Dwell On This: Rise Above Your Recessed Lighting

Dwell On This: Rise Above Your Recessed Lighting

Can lights can be mood killers, but there are ways to mellow them out.
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At a Glance


  • This won't be too complicated.


  • Think about buying dimmers or color-customizable smart bulbs.


  • It's a quick change with long-lasting impacts.

While the appeal of recessed lighting is understandable—can lights are unobtrusive, convenient to use, and produce an evenly distributed glow—it’s time for its popularity to dim. Unless you enjoy sterile, overhead lighting that recalls department stores and casts unflattering shadows, it’s time to can the can lights—or at least make them a lot less noticeable.

Knowing how and when to use recessed lights is key. Narrow hallways, bathrooms, closets, recessed nooks, and the kitchen are all spaces where lamps are going to be difficult to integrate. When strategically aimed to wash a wall or mounted object, recessed lights can bring some drama into a room.

Installed in a grid in a larger space like a living room, however, recessed lights can have a Swiss cheese effect. Bedrooms can take on the vibes of a hotel room rather than feeling warm and personalized.

To mitigate the effects of recessed lighting, try introducing other layers of light to create ambiance and add dimensionality. Install dimmers to soften the harshness overhead, and finally, check out color-customizable smart bulbs. You’ll not only be able to dial in the temperature and hue via app, but also have the option to set the mood with a single voice command.

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Illustration by Mar Hernández

Gregory Han
Co-author of Poketo's Creative Spaces: People, Homes, and Studios to Inspire Find me at @DesignMilk /// @Wirecutter /// @dwellmagazine /// @dominomag


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