With so many choices available to me, do I need a lighting designer to help me understand my home lighting needs? Well not really, as most lighting design centers and suppliers can help you with the basics to get the best value for your investment. Without getting into the theory of light and design, you can get comfortable knowing the basics and some guidelines for making those decisions.
Among your many other questions, one of the first might be 'how much lighting do I need?' and how does one go about calculating it? Like most things in life, there is a formula and it's really quite easy. Multiply the length of the room, in feet, by the width of the room or Length times Width. Then multiply your resulting answer by 1.5 to reach the amount of wattage you need to properly light the room for general illumination. For task lighting, use the same formula but use 2.5 rather than 1.5 to find the required wattage.
Since that seems easy enough, let's briefly discuss different areas of your home and what you might want to consider for your ambient, task or decorator lighting needs.
FOYER LIGHTING - To light your foyer or entry way, you need to consider both width and height of your fixture. To determine the proper width of a fixture, add the length of the space to the width of the space (L + W). Use feet to calculate the result. The resulting number, in inches, is the size of the fixture you will need. To determine the proper height of the fixture, you want the fixture to be at least 7 feet from the floor. A two or three-tier chandelier should only be used if you have a tall ceiling. If the foyer has a window above the front door, then you should center the hanging fixture so that it can be seen from outside. Additional wall sconces can be used if the area is large. They should be about 60 inches from the floor and about six to eight feet apart.
HALLWAY LIGHTING - You should plan to have a fixture every eight to ten feet. Use either flush or semi-flush mount ceiling lights. If your hallway is long, you may also want to consider use of wall sconces for added light. They should be about 60 inches from the floor and about six to eight feet apart along the wall.
LIVING ROOM LIGHTING - The main light in your living room can be a chandelier with a flush or semi-flush mount, if appropriate to the decor. As with the foyer, the fixture needs to be at least seven feet above the floor. Use of wall lights, table lamps, or floor lamps will add both ambient and task lighting.
DINING ROOM LIGHTING - Your dining room chandelier should be no wider than twelve (12) inches less than the width of the table. Assuming a ceiling height of eight (8) feet, the bottom of the chandelier should be no lower than 30 inches above the tabletop. Raise the fixture three inches for each additional foot of ceiling height. Similar to your living room, wall sconces, table lamps or buffet lamps can be used to add more light and ambience. Wall lights or sconces are hung about 60 inches from the floor.
KITCHEN LIGHTING - Kitchen lighting should be a combination of ambient ceiling mounted lighting and task lighting such as under cabinet counter lights. To light areas such as a kitchen island or a dinette area, use a decorative fixture with two or three shades or multiple pendants. The bottom of the fixture should be no lower than 30 inches above the counter top or dining table.
BEDROOM LIGHTING - You typically want to create an atmosphere of quiet relaxation in your bedroom while providing bright spots for reading and other activities. General or ambient lighting can be provided by a combination of ceiling fans, floor lamps, recessed lighting, and wall lights. For closet and hallway lighting, recessed lighting is recommended. Track lighting works perfective to show off artwork.
BATHROOM LIGHTING needs will vary depending on the size, some modern baths are designed as retreats off the master suite while the conventional ones only offer sufficient space for the daily grooming and privacy functions. Ceiling or wall lights will provide the general lighting needs but personal grooming is best lit with specifically designed fixtures as moisture is also something to deal with in some bathing areas.
With the vast selection of beautiful and functional wall lights, keep in mind, that no matter what room you are lighting, they should all be mounted about 60 inches from the floor. Small crystal wall lights will add a designer touch to any room in your home. If your home also has stairs, it is imperative that you adequately provide lighting with wall lights or specially designed stair lights for safety.