Ten Tips for Better Lighting in your Home

Who knew there was so much to learn about lighting? What does that have to do with organizing and design, you might ask? A lot, actually! Proper thought, planning, and choosing the right lights and lamps can make or break your space. You know how much I love lists, so here are ten tips for better lighting in your home.

mid-century modern design in a kitchen showing pendant lights over the island representing tips for better lighting

Top Ten Tips for Better Lighting

  1. Plan where to place your light fixtures. Of course, ceilings, wall sconces, and in and under cabinets are common places, but think about within steps of a staircase or inside a hallway closet.
  2. Consider the size of your rooms to choose the right amount of light. Typically, double or triple the square footage to calculate watts or lumens. For example, a 100-square-foot bedroom (10×10 feet) should have 200 watts or 3000 lumens of light.
  3. Measure the height of the ceiling when determining how high to hang a fixture. In a dining area with an 8-foot ceiling, hang the chandelier 36 inches over the table. Raise the fixture 3 inches for every 12 inches above the eight feet. That means for a 9-foot ceiling, hang the chandelier at 39 inches. But don’t go too high, or the fixture will be lost in the space.
  4. Define your style. Is your taste traditional, contemporary, or perhaps transitional? What finishes are you using elsewhere? You may – or may not – want your light fixtures to coordinate with these finishes. In fact, there are no hard and fast rules here. You can mix a few contemporary fixtures with more traditional decor.
  5. Decide if energy efficiency is important. LED (light emitting diodes) fixtures are the most efficient, and the selection of LED fixtures and bulbs is growing rapidly. They last longer than any other bulb, reducing landfill waste and greenhouse emissions.
  6. Layer your lighting. In addition to your primary light source, you can have accent lighting for artwork, cove lighting around the ceiling perimeter, under cabinet lighting for work surfaces, decorative pendants over an island, and portable lamps for ambient lighting, all in the same room but on different switches.
  7. Don’t forget dimmers. These will control your light levels and save energy.
  8. Do your best to understand the terminology. Many of us use the term “watts” to measure how much light we receive, as this was based on the old incandescent bulb system. However, light is actually measured in “lumens.” Watts measure the power to run the lamp, and lumens measure the light the bulb emits. I have a lighting and bulb cheat sheet that I keep with me when I am shopping.
  9. Please set a healthy budget for lighting. Light fixtures are often an afterthought when your budget is exhausted. Proper lighting can truly make or break a room.
  10. Hire a qualified electrician. You can feel comfortable knowing they installed your lighting safely and professionally.

2 thoughts on “Ten Tips for Better Lighting in your Home”

  1. Hi Jane! I found on Craigslist a Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant that I had been coveting for YEARS! It brings me such joy, from the moment I drive up to our house & see it through the window to when I work / eat / play games in the dining room where it resides. Dimmer, check. Qualified electrician, check. Great advice!

    • Oh wow that is so exciting. I love anything by Nelson and you scored a vintage one. Well done!


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