How to Light a Room

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One thing in design we can’t live without – good lighting. It is one of the most important elements in design, and yet most homes are either under-lit or you can use their space as a landing strip for an airplane. We would like to give you some simple ways to figure out not only how much light a room needs but what type of lighting you need.

To start you really need to determine what the room is going to be used for. There are four basic types of lighting which will help you understand how lighting is used. Sometimes you can use more than one type of lighting in a room:

  1. Ambient lighting: This is considered general lighting. It includes recessed lights, soffit lighting, track lighting, sconces, chandeliers, and pendant lights.
  2. Task lighting: This is lighting that is used for specific tasks such as cooking, office or school work, reading, grooming. Task lighting should make it easy to see the things you are working on. Some task lighting is in the form of table lamps, pendant lights or under-cabinet lighting.
  3. Accent lighting: This Is used to highlight an object or an area of architectural interest. Accent lighting is usually about 3 times brighter than ambient lighting.
  4. Natural lighting: This is the light that comes from the windows, doors or skylights. It can vary in brightness because of weather and time of day.

As a general rule, there is a formula to calculate how much light you need in a room:

Room length X Room width x 1.5 = Amount of wattage to light a room

So if you have an 18’ long room x 12’ wide room multiply times 1.5 = 324 watts, that’s how much wattage is needed to adequately light the room. You can divide that lighting into more than one source. 2 Lamps @ 150 watts each and 1 lamp @ 60 watt would be more than adequate light for the room.

Lighting can truly make or break a space. If you are feeling that your space just isn’t working for you, look at the lighting first. Make sure it is adequate and has the ability to create variable light (dimmers). Not only will it give you the ability to create a welcoming beacon, it can create many different levels of light compatible with your lifestyle. Just knowing the few formulas we gave you can create an environment that is pleasing to your family and your guests. So take a good look at your home, make a few small lighting changes and see what happens!

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