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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a great example of recessed cans highlighting the objects in each of the niches.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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?
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.
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 bhg.com, 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.
This 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.
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?
This is the chandelier we selected for our foyer (made by Murray Feiss ).
Or maybe you prefer the timeless look of a glass lantern?
Or maybe something with a “real wow factor”?
“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.
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.
After 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)…
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.
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.
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.
Pendant lighting over a kitchen island is a popular choice like the ones in this beautiful kitchen.
This stunning kitchen has a very interesting chandelier.
The drum shades are a great choice in this gorgeous kitchen designed by RLH Studio.
I love the classic look of glass lanterns over a kitchen island. I highly considered this option for many months.
How extraordinary is this island chandelier and kitchen designed by John Kraemer & Sons?!
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).
We have a pop-up ceiling in one of our baths. I just love the orb fixture we selected for it.