3 Ways to Light Up Your Home Interior

3 Ways to Light Up Your Home Interior

Open Kitchen Living The Esplanade Toronto

Kitchen and Dining Room, The Esplanade

3 Ways to Light Up Your Home Interior

Lighting is an important yet often overlooked design element that truly transforms an interior space, and adds the perfect finishing touch. Like jewelry is to clothes, lighting is to interior spaces. 

Below, you will learn about different lighting applications, mounting heights, tips, and more!

Interior Lighting Types

Typically, there are three recognized lighting types used in interior design; ambient, accent, and task lighting. Lighting types can double in function depending on the fixture type and its intended use.

A well-thought-out light scheme uses a combination of all three to create balance and cohesiveness. 

1. Ambient

Ambient lighting (also known as general lighting) acts as the primary light source as opposed to its counterparts. This type of lighting can either be from a natural light source or through an artificial light source. Ambient lighting provides lighting for the majority of a room whereas accent/task lighting provides lighting for a specific area/use.

Cove Lighting
Track Lighting
Flush Mount
Semi-Flush Mount
Recessed Light
Wall
Scone
Floor
Lamp
  • Cove lighting is considered to be both ambient and accent and is commonly used in high-end residential or commercial spaces. It uses a specific technique where the lighting is indirect and diffused.

  • Track lights can be suspended but are typically ceiling-mounted; these fixtures tend to have moveable components so you can easily direct light where needed making it ambient, accent and task.

  • Flush Mounts are fixtures that sit directly on the ceiling without a gap between the light fixture and the ceiling. These lights come in a variety of styles, shapes, and sizes and work well for spaces with low ceilings.

  • Semi-flush mounts are similar to flush mounts, they are suspended from the ceiling with a small gap between the ceiling and the fixture allowing for extra illumination without sacrificing space.  

  • Recessed lights, also known as pot/down lights, are installed above the ceiling so they sit perfectly flush with the ceiling. These lights are cost-effective and are often used in the construction industry.

  • Wall sconces are indicative of their name, these lights are installed on walls. There are two types of installation methods for wall sconces, there are plug-ins and there are hard-wired sconces.

  • Floor lamps, like wall sconces, are true to their name. They are tall lamps that stand directly on the floor.

Esplanade-Residence-4

Home Office, The Esplanade

Floor lamps
provide an opportunity to
add character
as there are
many styles to choose from.

2. Accent

Accent lighting highlights and brings attention to specific areas like artwork, architectural design features, millwork, and more. This type of lighting provides the opportunity to get creative and show off your personality.

Chandelier
Pendants
Art Lights

  • Chandeliers are suspended fixtures that tend to be more traditional and ornate in style. These fixtures work well in dining rooms, foyers, halls, stairs, or anywhere that can be appreciated from afar.

  • Pendants are commonly found in kitchens over an island, or in dining rooms over a table and are suspended from the ceiling. Depending on the fixture and placement, pendants can be used for task/ambient lighting. 

  • Picture/art lights are wall-mounted fixtures used to highlight pictures and artwork. 

A dining room is
the perfect place to use accent lighting such as pendants and wall sconces.

Colour Mid-century modern inspired dining room

Clover, Dining Room

3. Task

Task lighting is required for areas needing direct light in order to (safely) complete various tasks like reading, working, studying, cooking, and so forth. This type of lighting is focused on a specific area or direction.

Under Cabinet Lights
Table Lamps
Intergrated LEDs
  • Under cabinet lighting is lighting installed under a cabinet like in a kitchen, this illuminates your working surface. They can be installed so they are flush with the underside of the cabinet or mounted on it.

  • Table lamps are small, portable lights that are perfect for bedroom nightstands and home offices/dens. 

  • Integrated LEDs are lights that are integrated within an accessory, fixture, furniture or custom millwork.

Bright modern home office with sports memorabilia display cabinet

Aurora, Home Office

Integrated LEDs
are perfect for task and accent lighting.

Mounting and Placement Guidelines

The next section outlines general mounting and placement guidelines. Keep in mind that some of these tips may not apply to you as this is dependent on your home and its setup. 

A thing to note, sometimes pendants only come with a certain number of rods meaning you are limited to that mounting height but if needed, you can purchase more rods upon request from the manufacturer.

Entrances and Hallways/Stairways

Entrances are unexpected places to introduce fun pendants/chandeliers as this is the first impression your guests will experience in your home, and it will be more impactful if your entrance has high ceilings. Think of it as setting the stage for the rest of your space.

Hallways and stairways are other great places to add stylish lighting but select a functional fixture because this is still a high-traffic area where visibility and clearance are needed for safe passage.

  • Aim for a  minimum of 7′ to 8’ clearance from the floor to the bottom of the fixture 

  • Make sure the pendant doesn’t collide with an open door 

  • If limited on space, opt for a flush mount or semi-flush mount fixture instead

Washrooms

Washrooms are known for having poor lighting making it hard to see yourself while causing unflattering shadows. 

For balanced pools of light, place two wall sconces on either side of the mirror for best results. For longer vanities with a trio of mirrors, use three wall sconces; one on either side and one in the middle. 

 Alternatively, a linear wall sconce that spans the same width of your mirror can work too. For vanities with a set of mirrors, use two linear wall sconces instead.

  • Measure from the bottom of the floor to the center of the wall sconce

  • Aim for a height of around 60-66” as this is considered (the average) eye level 

You can also opt
for a mirror with integrated LEDs around the mirror’s perimeter. 

Luxurious contemporary powder room

Ingleside, Powder Room

Bedrooms

For bedrooms, utilize an accent pendant that spans out and pair your nightstands with table lamps. If limited with nightstand space, utilize wall sconces instead. Wall sconces can either be installed by simply plugging them in or by hard wiring. The lighting levels in bedrooms can be on the lower side since sleeping doesn’t require light.

  • For wall sconces, measure from the floor to the center of the wall sconce 

  • Mount between 40″ and 60″, this depends on your mattress, nightstand height, and the sconce style itself

  • For pendants, leave a clearance of  at least 7′ from the floor to the bottom of the fixture

Kitchen Islands

Kitchen islands pair perfectly with pendants and depending on the width of the island, only two or three pendants are needed. Alternatively, for a minimal look, use a singular linear pendant.

The width of the fixture should not go past the island, as a general rule of thumb, aim for 12″ of clearance from the edge of the counter to the edge of the pendant. Start from the center of the island and work your way out.

  • Measure from the top of the island to the bottom of the pendant 

  • Standard island height is 36″ so aim for a clearance of 30 to 36″   

Interior Lighting Bright white modern transitional kitchen with white cabinets and dark brown island

Aurora, Kitchen

The spacing between each pendant should
be between
24″ and 30″.

Dining Room Tables

When selecting a pendant, consider the shape of the pendant in relation to the shape of the table. For round tables, use a pendant that takes up a similar shape or organize pendants in round clusters. For rectangular tables, use a linear pendant as this creates a visual emphasis.

If you are unable to center the pendant to the table, opt for a pendant that has a long cord or chain, this way you can swag the pendant over. Alternatively, a pendant with asymmetrical arms that branches out and encompasses the general shape and size of the table works as well.

  • Measure from the top of the table to the bottom of the fixture and aim for 30-36” of clearance

  • Homes with higher ceilings like lofts may be hung with a higher clearance as needed

Living Rooms

Pendants or chandeliers work well in living rooms (and sitting rooms), Living rooms have a variety of lighting schemes based on the time of day, For a cozy, moody night scheme, use LED’s behind a media console to create a soft glow. For reading or general light or to add a pop in living rooms, utilize a floor lamp. 

  • In a 8′ tall room, aim for a minimum of 7’ clearance from the floor to the bottom of the fixture

  • A 7′ clearance allows folks to walk around and engage with the space  and ensures sightlines aren’t impeded

  • If possible, center the pendant in the middle of the room

Key Takeaways

 

  • Layer in artificial lighting with natural lighting for best results.

  • Maintain the same lighting temperatures throughout, especially within one room. 

  • Aim for 3000K in all residential rooms which is a warm/soft white.

  • Start with the most prominent lighting fixture in the room and work your way out.

  • Utilize smart bulbs so you can control the colour and brightness from your phone easily.

  • Be cautious of overly cheap fixtures and ensure they are ETL, UL, or CSA, certified.

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