For many, the kitchen is the busiest room in the house and the center of a number of different tasks. Kitchen lighting should be functional – bright and well diffused, and should serve to make tasks easier and safer.
Task lighting for the kitchen
Recessed lights are a good choice for lighting kitchen tasks such as meal prep, hobbies, reading, schoolwork, or finances. Install them over counters, sinks, and the range to create adequate task lighting for prep, cooking, and clean up.
Today’s recessed fixtures are available with a variety of trims and come in a variety of configurations. Note that the type of bulb used in recessed fixtures for task lighting is different from those used for overall lighting. Learn more about recessed light types and proper spacing.
Under cabinet fixtures also make great task lights over counters. Place under cabinet fixtures at the front of your cabinet – not against the wall – so the light will be distributed evenly over the area below. If using LED strips, consider putting your under cabinet lighting on a dimmer separate from other lighting in your kitchen. Dimming can add depth and drama to your space, and it’s an easy way to save energy costs.
Overall lighting for the kitchen
Evenly spaced ceiling fixtures are a dependable way to make sure all open spaces are free of shadows or glare, and they help illuminate the inside of the, cabinets, pantries, and drawers. Semi-flush mount or close to ceiling fixtures provide an opportunity to add style elements along with overall illumination for the kitchen.
For the most light for the least energy cost, choose a large surface-mounted fluorescent for the center of the kitchen. Look for fixtures with the ENERGY STAR label. These fixtures are the most energy-efficient and use fluorescent bulbs that are rated very high in color rendering, which means that people will look their best under them.
Lighting for over the kitchen table must often serve as a combination of general lighting and task lighting.
Pendent lighting fixtures are a great choice for task lighting over a kitchen table. They can provide the right light needed for close work while adding a major contribution to your room’s decor. Mount pendant fixtures 30″ above the tabletop.
A chandelier or ceiling fixture over the kitchen table also can provide the necessary illumination and a décor focus point If your table is round, the fixture should ideally be 12″ narrower than the diameter of the table. For square and rectangular tables, choose a fixture that is 12″ narrower than the smallest side. Learn more about proper sizing and hanging height for chandeliers.
Consider installing a dimmer to over the table fixtures, so you can lower the light for extra ambiance during special dining occasions.
Islands, dining counters and breakfast bars also require a combination of task and general lighting. Many find it useful to add a group of pendants or a multi-light pendent. Mount each pendant so that the bottom of the shade is approximately 66″ above the floor so it is possible to look across the room below the pendants. If the shades are not very deep and there is seating at the Kitchen Island or peninsula, then install the pendants a few inches lower (60″ above the floor).
A good rule of thumb is to install one individual pendant for every two feet of counter space. However, thin, narrow pendants may be more appealing with the addition of one or two additional fixtures. Try to use an odd number of pendants to create better balance.
Recessed fixtures can also provide focused task lighting for the island or dining counter.
Dining room lighting
A proper combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting can make your dining room both appealing and functional. Multiple fixtures allow you to create “layers of light” that can be used to vary the ambience and provide the light you need for a variety of activities including dining. The addition of dimming controls also will enable you to vary the light to suit your needs.
Chandeliers are the centerpieces of most dining room lighting, and many people choose to have the style of their chandelier selection set the theme for their dining rooms.
Consider installing a dimmer to vary the illumination to match your preferred dining experience. For family dinners, you may want a bright cheerful light. For formal or intimate dinners, a softer lighting effect may be more desirable.
Learn more about proper sizing and hanging height for chandeliers.
Visit your local Thomas Lighting retailer to compare the different size chandeliers with your table measurements.
Recessed or track lighting is another option for dining room lighting designs. These can be used to provide additional general lighting, as accent lighting for furnishings or artwork, or to provide a “wall-washing” effect.
Adding recessed lighting near the corners of the room will visually expand the room, making it appear larger.
Wall lighting can be very effective in a dining room lighting design. Individual wall fixtures can be used to flank a buffet or sideboard, accent a mirror, or to give the room added depth. Many Thomas Lighting chandeliers and wall lighting fixtures are available in matching family designs.
Den, family room, and basement lighting
Dens, Family Rooms and Basements are often areas of high activity, and recessed lighting can provide general, task, and accent lighting without getting in the way of the action. Close-to-ceiling fixtures are another alternative for these areas. If the basement is unfinished, simple utility lighting fixtures may suffice.
Use higher wattage fixtures in those rooms where tasks are performed, in rooms with ceilings higher than eight feet and in rooms with dark colored floors and walls.
Adding dimmer controls can allow you to change these rooms from a “playroom” to a room for quiet relaxation. Dimmers also allow for good TV viewing, while leaving enough light to move around safely.
Fireplaces can be made more dramatic by installing recessed downlights as accent lights over the mantle. Wall fixtures placed on either side of the fireplace will accentuate the area while contributing general lighting for the entire room.
Game tables, such as pool tables, require bright, well-distributed overhead lighting. Installing shaded pendant fixtures 36″ above the table are an excellent solution, or consider installing recessed fixtures directly over the table.
Bathrooms are another room that call for a mix of general and task lighting to make them as appealing and functional as possible. When installing bathroom lighting, look for fixtures rated for damp locations. Thomas Lighting offers special “shower trims” for recessed lights used directly in the shower or steam room, or over the tub or spa.
Ceiling fixtures or recessed lighting can provide general room lighting and lighting directly in the shower, commode, or bathtub area. If space allows, small chandeliers can add elegance and drama to your bath.
Wall fixtures provide the task lighting needed at the mirror. You can use a “bath bar” fixture of three to five lights directly over the mirror, or one or two light fixtures to flank the mirror for a softer lighting effect.
When using two individual wall fixtures, mount them at least 28″ apart and 60″ off the floor. Mount larger “bath bar” wall fixtures approximately 78″ off the floor.
In the bathroom, use bulbs that provide a warm or neutral white color. If choosing compact fluorescents (CFLs), use the color-adjusted versions to avoid an unflattering light.
Bedroom lighting must be able to go from a subdued ambience to bright task lighting for dressing, reading, and other activities. Use a combination of general and task lighting that matches your individual needs. Again, dimming controls give you the flexibility to vary the light to your immediate needs.
General lighting can be provided by ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, fanlights, recessed fixtures, wall fixtures, or a combination of these. Your bedroom’s general lighting should give you the illumination you need to dress and see into drawers and closets easily.
Lighting for closets is best done with recessed or close-to-the-ceiling fixtures that won’t get in the way in a tight space.
Next-to-bed lighting is often done with table lamps, but recessed lights or pendants can provide the light needed while leaving end tables open. Dimmer controls on next to bed lighting can change the ambience to suit your mood or make the room light low for TV viewing.
Foyer, hallway, and stairway lighting
As you and your guests enter your home, good lighting sets the tone for your living space and provides a welcoming atmosphere. While the fixtures you choose can set the style for your home’s decor, they should also provide ample lighting for safe access in and out of your home. Your lighting should also provide enough illumination to see easily into hall closets as well as all the way up stairs and down hallways.
Chandeliers, pendants, or ceiling fixtures can all serve to meet the lighting needs in your foyer, hallway, and stairway lighting. Chandeliers should be hung high enough to avoid oversize objects and to light stairways that lead from the foyer or hallway.
Choose a fixture that’s sized to your available space; smaller foyers will look better with a smaller fixture, for larger spaces you’ll want a larger fixture. If you have a second story viewing, consider how the fixture will look from above.
Hallways and stairways should be illuminated every eight to 10 feet for safety. If hall or foyer fixtures do not illuminate the entire stairway, install a fixture near the top step of the stairs. Hall and staircase lighting can be done with ceiling fixtures, wall fixtures, or recessed fixtures, however you may want to avoid using wall fixtures in narrow hallways.
Recessed lighting can be used to illuminate the hallway or stairs and provide accent light for art or photos on the walls.
Lighted switches should be placed at both ends of a hallway or stairway for safety.
Utility and laundry rooms
Utility and laundry rooms need strong general lighting and possibly additional task lighting. Large, energy-efficient fluorescent fixtures can provide plenty of general lighting at an affordable cost. Recessed fixtures can be installed for extra illumination over task areas such as laundry machines, ironing boards, and workbenches.
Outdoor lighting is the first thing that welcomes your guests as they approach your house. Outdoor fixtures add to the style and personality to your home and provide essential home security.
Outdoor lighting also allows you to take advantage of your outdoor spaces after dark and adds value to your home. Thomas Lighting outdoor fixtures are available in a wide range of styles to allow you to harmonize the lighting with the architecture of your home.
Security and savings from outdoor lighting
Police and security professionals agree that good outdoor lighting is one of the least expensive and most effective security measures a homeowner can take. Leaving lights on through the night can increase security, but can also raise your electricity bill. Thomas Lighting offers a range of outdoor lighting fixtures that use energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) to help lower utility bills and your “carbon footprint,” while still providing ample lighting for safety.
The latest compact fluorescent bulbs will operate well down to 25ºF, and “cold start” CFLs are available that can operate down to 10Fº.
It’s important to note that some municipalities have implemented special building codes related to the type of lighting you are allowed to use outdoors. Some require special “Dark Sky” compliant fixtures. Check with your local municipality regarding lighting codes before installing outdoor lighting.
Front entrance lighting allows you to easily identify visitors and greet guests. Wall fixtures on each side of the door will give your home a warm, welcoming feel, while assuring the safety of those who enter.
Under a porch or other overhang, you can use recessed, ceiling fixtures, or even chain-hung fixtures, but be certain that they are rated for outdoor use. If using recessed lights outdoors, be certain the choose trims that won’t accumulate trapped bugs.
Outside of the garage lighting can be done with wall fixtures on each side of garage door(s) or with a single fixture above the doors. For energy savings, consider installing a motion sensor, timer switch, or a photocell that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn.
Lighting all sides of your home
Illuminating the sides and back of your house can also help increase security. You can install spotlights on your eaves or under soffits, or use uplighting ground spotlights to light up the sides and back. If using uplighting, aim the fixtures so that the light is blocked by your eaves to reduce “light pollution.”
To conserve energy, you can install motion sensors that will switch on the light only when someone moves into the area.
If lighting rear or side entrances with a single wall fixture, install it on the keyhole side of the door.
Steps, walkways, and driveways, as well as decks, porches and patios should have sufficient light for safe, easy movement after dark. You can use any combinations of path lights, post lanterns, and lights mounted on the house to light the way.
Be certain your fixtures are rated and wired for outdoor use.
For areas with extremely corrosive environments, such as the seashore, plastic outdoor fixtures may be the best choice.
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