How to Plan for Home Lighting

Having a light is part of what defines a home. Lighting is what defines our daily schedule. There was a time of course when the 43097oz_DIMMERSmontavello_livingroom_night rising and setting of the sun did that, but lighting has extended the days. Artificial light defines modern times. It is a powerful tool in extending human health, emotion and daily rhythm. A person’s ability to see clearly, identify objects, prepare food, attend to personal grooming, and live comfortably rely on the right type of lighting in every housing space. Civilization has gone beyond simple vision. Lighting design focuses on initiating mood. Lighting design can establish atmosphere in a home, even creating the conditions for different mood in different spaces at different times.

Shadow control.

The first incandescent light bulbs were made of clear glass. That allowed for the maximum light intensity but generated harsh shadows and glare. Soon light bulbs made with frosted glass, which softened shadows, largely replaced clear glass bulbs.  Newer lighting designs are being developed around fluorescent and light emitting diode (LED) systems that have very different effects on visibility and light quality. Lenses built into light fixtures allow beams of light to be focused.

Questions for planning.

What are the general principles of lighting design? How do you:

  • Generate adequate levels of light for different tasks?
  • Provide the right coloration to make things comfortable?
  • Generate the right mood conditions?
  • Make lighting control easy?
  • Control the costs of lighting?


Lighting has gone beyond simple utility. Lights have been at the center of decor in the home. Lighting fixtures add color and grace. Lighting fixtures have become sculptures with glowing points or flat surfaces of brightness, made of a full range of materials from shiny metals to textured clays or woods. Lighting can be built into the walls and ceilings of rooms or consist of floor and table lamps that reflect homeowners’ tastes.

When planning the lighting in a room, lighting designers recommend asking some basic questions:

  • What do you want to see in the room? Is there a feature of the room you want to be highlighted or do you want just a flat overall brightness? Do you like spotlights that emphasize details or prefer overall lighting from above?
  • What don’t you want to see?
  • Is there a kind of lighting that you especially like or don’t like?

Older homes and newer homes.

The age of the home is an important first consideration when doing lighting design.

Homes pre-dating the 1970s were typically built with one central lighting fixture in each room. For older homes, improving the lighting may require built-in lighting fixtures may have to be installed in each renovated room. The general principle advocated by many lighting designers is, “light the walls, hide the source.” You may want recessed downlights or architectural lighting, such as cove lighting. Architectural lighting will help you craft your space.

Newer homes usually had some lighting planning in place from the start. They may already have recessed lighting. You may still want to replace the kind of lighting fixtures to provide more flexibility in distributing the light. For instance, you may want to replace a recessed fixture that directs a narrow beam of light straight down for a new fixture that can be directed to wash a wall with light. Even replacing a few light switches and fixtures can make an enormous improvement, making the home seem new.

Replacements and improvements.

You may want to replace the off-on light switch with a dimmer. Dimmers give you full control of the flow of light in the room and can improve your energy efficiency in the home. A lamp dimmed by just 10 percent will double the life of your bulbs. If you take the lights down 25 to 30 percent, you can create a completely different mood in the home.

Yale Lighting Concepts and Design has a huge selection of home lighting features brands, styles, and craftsmanship that inspire brilliant spaces in your home. Please contact us to learn more.