Just as much as some of us love shoes, handbags, and jewelry, we absolutely LOVE lighting and what it does for a home! It's really easy to overlook what lighting can do for a space if you install a ton of recessed lighting in every room. But we all know we don't want all of those lights on during a movie, a romantic dinner or dinner party, or when you want to read in your favorite chair. Or those lights are the wrong temperature and don't give the right feel for the space. Speaking from experience, we replaced all of our recessed lights and builder grade chandeliers in our tract home for this very reason. Keep reading for some of our top tips for choosing the right height, color temperature, size, and finish for the lighting around your home!
Before we even get to the beautiful lighting fixtures we could put all over your home, we have to talk lightbulbs and color temperature. This decision, by far, affects how you experience a space. Just think about how cozy a single warm light in a restaurant bathroom feels versus the waiting room in a hospital. Residential color temperature ranges from 2700 Kelvin to 3000 Kelvin, and that conversation can get really complicated and in-depth, so we'll keep it short and sweet! First off, Kelvin is simply the scale that is used to measure color temperatures. 2700 Kelvin is the starting goal temperature if you're looking for a cozy, warmer yellow light in the space. 3000 Kelvin is the goal temperature if you're looking for the truest white light that mimics natural daylight. The recessed lights we installed in our home are 3000 K for that reason! Anything over 3000 K will give you that cold, sterile hospital look, so please read your lightbulb labels and make sure you're getting the right bulb for the space you're shopping for! And say it with me... "I will never install a light bulb that is above 3000K in my home!"
For entryways, hallways, or any other place you would be walking directly underneath a light fixture, leave about 7' clearance from the bottom of the fixture to the floor. If you have higher ceilings (typically 10' or more) you can definitely raise them up accordingly. We recommend having a professional come to hang these fixtures, and if you do have the room (and a patient installer), have them hold the fixture in place while you stand back and assess the entire room before you make the final decision on height. Rules can always be broken, but this is one that I stand pretty strongly behind.
For dining room and kitchen island pendants, be sure to leave 30"-36" from the table surface to the bottom of the pendant. Again, if you have higher ceilings you can hang the pendants higher accordingly.
FINISHES: TO MATCH OR NOT TO MATCH?
This question is very contested, but a lot of times we work from a "categories match" perspective. This means that we tend to have lighting fixtures in the same metal finish within one space, but they don't necessarily match cabinet hardware or door hardware. Having multiple finishes in a space gives it more depth and layers, instead of looking like a catalog page with everything in one finish. Our kitchen is an example of this below - we opted to keep the stainless steel door hardware and the stainless steel and black appliances (mainly due to budget), but switched out the island pendants and dining table chandelier to brass options. We also switched our hardware to brass knobs and pulls. In our loft and guest bedroom, we went with matte black hardware, and it still feels like the same home, so definitely consider different options in your home as well!
LIGHTING BASED ON FUNCTION
One thing we see a lot with our clients is the shiny object syndrome - they fall in love with a light purely based on aesthetics, instead of considering where that light fixture will live in their home. For example, the lights you choose for your bathroom should all have light that emits out at face level, rather than lights that emit light from the top and bottom of the fixture. Overhead multi-bulb lights above your vanity mirror may work for scale, but for makeup application and even light, having wall sconces at face level really is key. If you have a wall sconce you love with a metal shade across the middle, that would be better suited lining the walls down a hallway to bring the eye up the wall, instead of emphasizing the length of the hallway. Metal shades for overhead pendants will point light directly down, so that would be a good options for a kitchen island or dining table for great ambiance, like this pendant below!
Lighting is one of those things where you get what you pay for too! There are definitely some inexpensive options out there that still look good, but for the most part, I try to explain to clients that lighting can have such a big impact on the overall look, feel, and function of their home, and it's worth it to direct a little more of the budget to it to make it worth it.
Is there anything we haven't covered that you're wondering about regarding lighting? Feel free to reach out through Instagram and let us know what you're working on!