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Making a Home Lighting Plan: What Lighting Should Go Where?

December 29, 2013

Making a Home Lighting Plan: What Lighting Should Go Where?

As you might have noticed by looking at this website, we sell a lot of vintage style lighting online. So, it's safe to say we know our lights. For example, we've already talked a bit about how a light bulb works. Another question we've come across is: “What lighting do I put where in my house?” It's a very simple question, but an important one nonetheless. Because there's a lot more to home lighting than just sticking a big pendant light in the middle of the room. (Although admittedly, that can look very smart!) If you've been wondering how to go about arranging lights in your home, then look no further: here are a few things to help you create a lighting plan for your house.

The basics

Creating a lighting plan can be as easy as taking the plan of your home and drawing the symbols of different kinds of light you want on it. However, especially if you have a fairly complicated plan in mind, you may also want to include wires and the direction of light beams, for example. But before you get started, it's good to remember the three basic types of lighting that are commonly used in homes. This way you will know what lighting is used for which function, and therefore also what place it should be given in your lighting plan.

  1. General or ambient lighting provides the room with overall illumination. It’s what you start out with on your lighting plan.
  2. Task lighting is lighting that has the specific purpose of providing practical illumination for areas in which certain activities are carried out. Think about stuff like cooking, eating, working or reading.
  3. Accent lighting is perhaps the most fun part of your lighting plan. You can play around with light, accenting objects and features in the room, and at the same time add depth.


Now that we've got our basic lighting types in mind, it's time to move on to the planning. The first thing to think about is variation. The worst crime in home lighting design is to have all of your lights at the same level and intensity. Nothing is as dull as only having ceiling lights. So make sure there is various general lighting at different levels. Sticking to this will create an inviting atmosphere. One way of varying home lighting is to use some lamps that have a downward glow and some that shine upward. Table lamps and floor lamps are the most common way to achieve this, but there are also pendant lights, washes and up-lights. The latter two, along with cool original lamps such as signal and search lights, can also be used to position beams in more unusual directions. To employ lights at different levels, don´t just think about putting them on the floor, ceiling and on tables, but also under cabinets, behind shelves, and hanging from the ceiling at various heights.

Various functions

Another important rule of thumb is to use as much task lighting as possible where appropriate. This ensures there is enough light to carry out certain activities. Different areas involve different activities, and therefore will require different levels of light. When you're working, reading or cooking, there should be clear light illuminating what you're doing. In the case of reading, this may only be a small area - your desk or chair, for example - and the light can be a bit warmer. Floor and desk lamps are commonly used for this, but you can also use small pendant lights, for example. When you're cooking or eating at the dinner table with your family, you'll want to cover a much larger space and have brighter light. Once again, big pendants are suitable here, as well as chandeliers or traditional ceiling lights.

In general, a room will have multiple task lights, because one space often includes various areas such as the lounge, kitchen and dining. You will need to figure what lighting you want for all of these areas separately. This isn't a bad thing, as it will help you vary your lighting across the entire space.


Last but not least, decoration. Apart from being able to see what you're doing, home lighting can also add to the decorative side of your interior. Accent lighting should be used to lead attention to certain objects and items in your household that are worth showing off. Some examples: your favourite painting, your personal collection of shells, that beautiful old fireplace... anything that you love and which gives real character to the house. Accent lighting is also useful to light up forgotten corners and spaces in the room that would otherwise be unpleasantly dark. Usually recessed lights are used that are tucked away in the wall, ceiling or under rims. But you can also be a bit more inventive and try using exposed Edison style filament bulbs, for example.

We hope you've gotten some good ideas for creating your own lighting plan. Once you've made one, let us know how it turned out in the comments. We´re always inspired by other people's creativity!

(Image 1, 4 & 7 by 1kindesign, image 2 by remodelista, image 3 by homedsgn, image 5 by yellowtrace, image 6 by better-homes-gardens)

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