Insufficient lighting not only ruins the ambiance of your home, but it can also cost you wasted energy, and thus, wasted money.
So, what makes effective, attractive interior lighting? Read on for 8 common home lighting mistakes — and what you can do to avoid them.
Home Lighting Mistakes to Avoid
The importance of planning cannot be overstated when selecting the right lights for each room. You’ll have to keep in mind the colors of the walls, the themes of your decor, and the ultimate purpose of the room. How do you plan to use the space, and what kind of atmosphere do you want to create?
Misuse of Overhead Lights
While overhead lights may be ideal for certain workspaces in the home, they cast deep shadows. As a result, you may want to avoid using these in your bathroom or near a vanity, as they can create an unflattering image in the mirror’s reflection.
Instead, seek out wall sconces with shades to help soften the light and make it more even with your face.
You’ll also want to avoid placing single overhead lights in small places, like pantries or closets. Often, a single overhead light is not enough to illuminate the corners, making it difficult to find what you’re looking for. Instead, try using LED strip lights, cabinet lights, or lighting bars.
A chandelier that’s too big will look out of place in your room. Similarly, a chandelier that’s too small won’t give you enough to work with when prepping food at the kitchen counter or eating around the table.
So how do you know what size chandelier to buy? Add up the width and the height of the room in feet. The total will be the diameter of an appropriate chandelier, sized in inches. And if you’re placing the chandelier above a table, the diameter should be about one foot smaller than the width of the table’s most narrow side.
We’ve all seen it before: A ceiling fan in the center of the room, flanked by lights in each corner. While the symmetry may be appealing, it’s not as effective as you think.
Instead, focus on illuminating the most frequented areas of the room. If it’s a bedroom, for instance, a light on either side of the bed could help you enjoy some late-night reading.
Excessive or Insufficient Light
Our eyes are constantly adjusting throughout the day. Why wouldn’t our lighting do the same? You shouldn’t have to choose between blinding light and total darkness.
Including dimmers in your home lighting plan will not only help you maximize your energy efficiency, but it will also give you more control over the exact level of brightness in any given room.
Smart LED lights come with that feature, which can often be controlled from your smartphone. They also allow you to change the color of the lighting, which brings us to the next point.
Wrong Color Temperature
Does your bedroom remind you too much of your office? Do the lights feel harsh and uninviting when you wake up in the morning?
It could be because you’re using the wrong colored bulbs. In general, lights with a warmer hue promote coziness and relaxation, while lights with a cooler hue promote alertness and productivity.
While the best color light will ultimately depend on the colors of your walls, furniture, and interior decor, warm-colored lights are best for the bedroom and living room, while cooler, diffused lights work better for the kitchen and the bathroom.
Ignoring the Theme
How many times have you purchased a home decor item purely based on its aesthetic value, only to find that it didn’t fit in with anything else in the room?
The same goes for lights, too. Before you buy, try to envision how the light fixture will look in your home. If you’re aiming for a more rustic, charming feel, primative lighting adds a nice touch. But if you’re going for a more modern, sleek look, minimalist lighting works better.
Swiss Cheese Ceilings
If your ceiling looks like swiss cheese, that’s probably a good indicator that you’ve gone overboard with the recessed lighting.
While we mentioned that a single overhead light may not provide enough illumination, too much recessed light will look excessive — and it may not even reach the areas you need to see most.
Keep your recessed lights limited to where you’ll get the most use out of them. Kitchen countertops, for example, an ideal place for them.
Forgetting About the Light Switches
Just like your lighting needs to make sense for the room, so do your light switches. You want them to be accessible without being disruptive.
A good rule of thumb is to place your light switches between 48 and 52 inches above the ground — a standard height for most people in the standing position, plus it leaves plenty of room for hanging art or other wall-mounted decor items.
Similarly, you’ll want to keep your switches between 1.5 and 2 inches away from any door frames. While the switches won’t necessarily prevent your doors from opening and closing, placing the two close together will give your wall a crowded look.
Plan Your Vision
Interior lighting not only serves a functional purpose; it also has the power to set the mood in every room of the house.
Now that you know how to avoid these common home lighting mistakes, it’s time to start planning your home lighting makeover.
Looking for more ways to freshen up your living space? Check out our design section for tips and tricks on making your home, apartment, or townhome look brand new.