To avoid feeling overwhelmed before you even begin, follow these 10 steps to designing your home’s lighting like a pro.
1. Establish the budget
It might seem like an obvious step, but it's amazing how quickly home projects—big or small—can put a serious dent in your bank account. To avoid a monetary setback, decide how much lighting you need, and designate the items you might want to splurge on, and other areas where you know you need to be more conscious of cost.
2. Pick a Theme, Genre, or Design Type
Just as you would stick to a color scheme when decorating a space, so should you consider the style and theme of the fixtures you're wishing to install. Since lighting is such an integral component of creating the mood and tone of a space, find products that speak to you and the particular space. If you have a signature style, the lighting should follow suit.
3. Layer lighting
The basic principle is to layer three types of lighting: ambient, accent and task lighting. Ambient lighting is concerned with creating general illumination, occupying a more functional role. Accent lighting is often where decorative fixtures come into play, like chandeliers, pendants, and linear lighting. Task lighting also comes in many forms, providing focused lighting for work spaces throughout your home. Once all of these elements come together, the interior becomes a well-rounded (and well-lit) space.
4. Start with the statement light
Once you have a theme in mind, start with the most visible item that will define the space, like a modern chandelier or pendant (this could be one of the splurge-worthy items). From there, choosing the remaining lighting in the same style as that fixture will help narrow the search.
5. Consider the requirements of each room
Since each room has its own function, some areas should naturally be more ambient, and others more task-oriented. For example, the bedroom would do well with more accent lighting, since it's a space for relaxation and sleep. The kitchen is the area for careful tasks like food preparation—so that space demands bright, functional lighting before anything else.
6. Be precise with measurements
Luckily, there are general and specific guidelines for sizing a fixture for a space. Once you have the basic dimensions of the space and its function, the math for finding the correct sized fixture is easily done. For example, kitchens and living rooms have different requirements; planning the lighting above a kitchen island is very different from choosing a large enough fixture to fill a living room.
7. Get creative
We've talked about specific types of lighting for each room, but sometimes it's okay to break the rules. Think outside a product's normal function and try unexpected applications—perhaps a pendant for a bedside lamp or an adjustable wall sconce as a task lamp in the kitchen.
8. Stay educated about new technology
Let's face it, LED lighting is more common than ever these days, and there are different rules when it comes to installing LED fixtures in your home. With that said, consult your contractor or electrician for the proper voltage and dimming options required for LED fixtures.
9. Consider multi-functional lights
Now that we have decorative lighting covered, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty and discuss architectural lighting (i.e. recessed, dimmers, controls, and wall plates). Since we live in the digital age, we rely on many devices that require charging. These days, there are many sophisticated wall controls and outlets that allow for efficient energy consumption, that can also power our mobile devices.
10. Start designing!
The last and final step is to dive right into your home's lighting design. Getting the planning process going is often the hardest part, but with these helpful tips, you'll be installing a unique lighting scheme in no time.