Building a Dream House: Light Up Your Beautiful Home

Postscript:  I apologize for this lengthiness of this post.  However, I wrote what I think are some important things to consider with a lighting plan.  I also wanted to include some photos for inspiration and some of our lighting selections from our new home.

Planning ahead is essential to achieving successful lighting…

The electrical walk-through takes place very early in the

building process – long before you really need to select light fixtures.  However to avoid possible additional costs (“Why didn’t we think of that earlier?”) or possible regrets (“I wish we had…”), it is well worth your time and effort to really think through all the lighting needs throughout your home in the blueprint stage.  I would also highly suggest taking it to the lighting store that your builder works with to get their feedback on things such as the number of lights, stair lighting (turning the light on downstairs and then turning it off from different bedroom locations upstairs), under cabinet lighting, over cabinet lighting, bath lighting, recessed can lighting, and ceiling fans.

Some Things to Consider:

Generally speaking, there are 3 types of lighting:  task/accent, ambient/general, and , of course, natural lighting.  Review each of these types in every room of your house.

Natural Lighting

Photo credit: via Houzz

Photo credit: via Houzz

Natural lighting comes in through our windows and doors.  It is going to vary depending on the time of day, time of year, and what direction each room faces.  I love as much natural light as I can get in a room.  As we all know, though, in reality we have to put other important items in our homes like beds, appliances, furniture, and artwork that require us to have walls.  I love fabrics and beautiful window treatments and those also are going to take away some of my natural light coming in through the windows –  a price, however, I’m willing to pay.

Task/Accent Lighting

Task lighting needs to be adequate enough for us to perform all our daily tasks.  Tasks like reading, computer work, school work, cooking, and grooming should be considered.  If you don’t have enough, you may get eyestrain, headaches, moodiness and maybe just not want to even perform the task.  Examples of task lighting to possibly put into your home would be recessed lighting, pendant lights, and under cabinet lighting.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Cans or No Cans??

Some designers dislike the use of recessed can lighting throughout a home.  I agree that cans do make a ceiling unattractive.  However, I find the benefit of having recessed lighting when you need it or want it outweighs the ugly look of them.  We put them throughout our entire new home.  We even made the choice of using recessed cans over our kitchen eating area rather than putting a hanging fixture.  I tend to work on projects or read at night while sitting at the kitchen table and want the additional light recessed cans provide.  Also sometimes when we entertain large groups we like the option of moving our kitchen table to another location and we don’t want a fixture hanging down where a guest’s head may hit it.

There are two things, though, that  I think are “musts” when installing can lights in a home.  The “first must” is to install dimmer switches with them.  Dimmer switches can serve two purposes:  they can take away some of the possible glare from the lights and they can provide ambience to a room when dimmed significantly.  The “other must” is painting the baffles that surround the cans the same color of the ceiling.  This minor detail helps the cans (somewhat) disappear into the ceiling.

Photo credit: Cameo Kitchens, Inc.

Photo credit:
Cameo Kitchens, Inc.

Cans are often used in a coffered ceiling like the one in this beautiful kitchen.  The also shows a great example of under cabinet lighting.

Image by:

Image by:

Notice the placement of the cans in the photo above – only two sides of the room.  Cans do not have to be installed all over the ceiling – careful placement of them can make all the difference in a room.

Cans also serve as accent lighting in a home and  can provide an impact in a room.  They can be used to illuminate artwork or special objects in a room especially in a niche area.  You can also create drama in a room by using cans to flood or wash the walls with light.

Photo credit: Houzz Design by: R.J. Gurley Custom Homes

Photo credit: Houzz
Design by:
R.J. Gurley Custom Homes

Notice the accent can lighting in the niche and a few carefully placed cans in the center of this dining room by R.J. Gurley Custom Homes.

Photo credit: Houzz Applegate Tran Interiors

Photo credit: Houzz
Applegate Tran Interiors

This is a great example of recessed cans highlighting the objects in each of the niches.

Photo credit: Houzz M Squared Design, LLC

Photo credit: Houzz
M Squared Design, LLC

This game room shows the use of recessed cans combined with rope lighting in a tray ceiling.  Rope lighting is another way to create some drama in a room.

Photo credit: www.

Photo credit:

Designer Vicki Bergelt has created “quiet drama” in this Master Bedroom by carving out lighting niches in the wall.

 LEDs Bulbs or Not??

The last point I will bring up regarding recessed lighting is whether to choose to put in LED bulbs.  Currently, this is another decision to carefully consider (it probably will not be in several years).  Fortunately, you will not have to make this decision until the builder actually has electrical power running in the house.  Here are some of the major pros and cons of LED recessed lighting.


Keeps your electrical bill down and will save you a significant amount of money over time

You won’t have to change a bulb for many years nor purchase replacement bulbs very often

They burn cooler than other types of bulbs

A “greener choice” – better for the environment


Currently an expensive investment to make especially when you have to buy so many bulbs at one time (when building a house)

They are still working on improving the quality of light they emit – luckily that horrible, bluish color is in the past

We actually made the decision to “bite the bullet”  and put in all LED bulbs throughout the first floor.  We decided it was worth the investment in the long run.  Some of the rooms also have very high ceilings that would make changing bulbs a painful process, and we wanted all the recessed can bulbs on the same floor to look-alike.

Exterior Lighting

Photo credit: Houzz (Fourteen Estates)

Photo credit: Houzz
(Fourteen Estates)

Another critical decision you will need to make is your exterior lighting.  Exterior lighting is important for two main reasons:  security for your new home and curb appeal.  I am very big on the curb appeal of a home.  It is the first impression people have of your home.  Is it welcoming and inviting?

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

 Some exterior lighting needs you may want to consider are :

Exterior light fixtures

         Lighting up steps to your front door (promotes safety & security)

Security lights mounted in dark corners of the house

Recessed can lighting in the eaves

Deck, patio, and pool lighting

Pathway lighting (electrical or solar)

Landscape lighting (spot, flood, and up lighting (trees/house)

Lighting roof peaks and house angles

Holiday Lighting

One last type of lighting  you may want to spend some time thinking about are any holiday lighting outlets you may want during the holiday season.  It is much easier and less costly to put in an outlet now than later.  Consider whether you want to add an outlet in certain areas and eliminate the need to be running an extension cord(s).  For instance, we added outlets above the fireplace mantels for lighted garland.  My husband also had the forethought to add outlets in our eaves for Christmas lights on our roof and eliminating the need for an extension cord running down the sides/front of the house.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

You now have the lighting you really need to basically function, so now it’s time (months later) to use your creativity…

Selecting Light Fixtures:  Adding “Jewelry” to Light Up Your Beautiful Home

Sparkly?  Ultra Modern?  Traditional?  Simple?  Colorful?

Exterior Fixtures

Your front door is the most important door in your house.  Front door fixtures should be the largest of your exterior fixtures.  If you are choosing between two sizes of fixtures, the bigger one is probably the right choice. Fixtures will appear much smaller when viewed from the street.  Also choose a fixture with a color that compliments the colors of your home’s exterior.  Take your time to really find that fixture you love and is the right scale and color – you’ll be happy you did.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

What instant curb appeal this front entrance has!  It is so warm and inviting – you want to see what the interior of the house is like.  Even though this photo came from, it sure looks like “Nell Hill’s” (Mary Carol Garrity – Kansas store owner/author) to me.

I knew that I wanted gas lanterns for our front entrance.  I love the beauty and charm of gas lanterns and the constant flickering flame they have.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

InspirationalDetails.comThis is one of our front door gas lanterns (not turned on yet).  Our other front exterior fixtures match this one in a smaller size but are an electrical version.

Foyer Fixtures

How do you imagine your dream foyer saying “Welcome”?  Do you see it as fairly formal or casual?  Is it a big foyer or small?  The answers to these questions should help direct you to the style of light fixture you will want to hang in there.

Do you prefer the look of a crystal chandelier?

Photo credit: Robert Benson Foyer Design: Luxe Interiors

Photo credit: Robert Benson
Foyer Design: Luxe Interiors via Houzz

Photo credit: Houzz Design by: KannCept Design, Inc.

Photo credit: Houzz
Design by:
KannCept Design, Inc.

This is the chandelier we selected for our foyer (made by Murray Feiss ).

Or maybe you prefer the timeless look of a glass lantern?

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Photo credit: Pinterest Design by: Mackin Architects

Photo credit: Pinterest
Design by: Mackin Architects

Or maybe something with a “real wow factor”?

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

“Re-dressing” My Dining Room Fixture

This lovely home was one we seriously considered buying during our 6-year-house-search.  I fell in love with this antique fixture.  Once we decided to build, my goal was to find a beautiful antique fixture for my dining room.  I wanted the charm and grandeur that an antique fixture can bring to a room.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Not only do I love this antique fixture from Florian Papp Antiques, but I think this whole room is gorgeous.

After I did some looking, I decided I wanted to find a “Paris Flea Market” crystal chandelier like the ones in the following photos.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

InspirationalDetails.comAfter an extensive search in stores and on the internet, I could not find a fixture both within my budget and the right scale for the room (“large enough” per Lucia, my designer)…

Chandelier by Cyan

Chandelier by Cyan

Did you know you can have a fixture “re-dressed” by a lighting store ?  I purchased this beaded, more casually looking chandelier, and had the lighting store re-dress it with crystals.

I now have the “Paris Flea Market” chandelier that I wanted for a reasonable cost.

Study Fixture

One of the rooms that I think turned out beautifully is our study (check out some of my previous posts for building pictures of it).  Our study is right off the foyer so I wanted a fixture that had a “study feel” to it but was not too casual looking.  I am quite pleased with our selection.

Kitchen Fixtures

As I mentioned before, we did not want a hanging fixture over our eating area.  However, we certainly did want a fixture(s) over the kitchen island.  I had 3 requirements in my search for the perfect fixture.  It would have to provide good lighting, have visual interest, and would not take away from the cooktop hood which I consider the focal point in the kitchen.

Photo credit: Design by Linda McDougald

Photo credit:
Design by Linda McDougald

Pendant lighting over a kitchen island is a popular choice like the ones in this beautiful kitchen.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

This stunning kitchen has a very interesting chandelier.

Photo credit: Houzz design by RLH Studio

Photo credit: Houzz
design by RLH Studio

The drum shades are a great choice in this gorgeous kitchen designed by RLH Studio.

Photo credit: Houzz Design by

Photo credit: Houzz
Design by

I love the classic look of glass lanterns over a kitchen island.  I highly considered this option for many months.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

How extraordinary is this island chandelier and kitchen designed by John Kraemer & Sons?!

Bathroom Fixtures

You can find many great-looking bathroom fixtures at a very reasonable cost these days.  In most bathrooms you will want a fixture that gives off a good light for grooming purposes.  There are two other things to consider when making your selections.  One is whether you want the lighting and plumbing fixtures to match.  The other is whether you want the light fixture mounted in the mirror or above the mirror (if mounted above, make sure the size of the fixture and the height in the room works together).

Photo credit: Houzz Design by Carey Mudford Interior Design

Photo credit: Houzz
Design by Carey Mudford Interior Design

We have a pop-up ceiling in one of our baths.  I just love the orb fixture we selected for it.

You may want to put special lighting in rooms such as the powder room or master bath.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

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Final Words:  My lighting selections will play a significant design element in our new home.  There will be one more finishing touch to my “lighting jewelry” with the addition of some beautiful table and floor lamps….Oh yea, and some candles too…

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

About inspirationaldetails

Passionate about: Entertaining Tablescapes Decorating, and a love of Books!! I find inspiration in the details of life...
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8 Responses to Building a Dream House: Light Up Your Beautiful Home

  1. Pingback: How to Light a Basement Room or Flat | Haikoo

  2. Aimee Horton says:

    I love the study fixture. Who makes it? Thanks

    • I’m glad you like it! It is made by Jeremiah (#28038-SPZ). It has 8 lights (60 watts)
      and a width of about 31″/ hieght of 45″. If interested, you can easily find it at a
      lighting store or on the internet.

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  4. Pingback: My Study/Library Inspiration: Before & After | Inspirational Details

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