On Sizing Your Lighting Fixtures

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In the Dining Room

You should still create layers of light with multiple fixtures in the dining room. However, chandeliers are usually the decorative centerpiece of Dining Room lighting. Suspended over the dining table, hanging height and proper sizing are very important. Generally, the fixture should hang 30 to 36 inches above the dining table. This prevents glare from the bulbs and should be high enough not block anyone’s line of sight. For higher ceilings you can hang the chandelier up to 3” higher for each additional foot of ceiling.

For proper sizing, select a fixture with a diameter equal to one-half to two-thirds the width of your table. Or take the dimensions of the room in feet, add them together and select a chandelier that many inches in diameter. Wattage is also based on this measurement – the chandelier must give enough light over the table! For rooms with high ceilings you can add up to 6” or more to the width of the chandelier.

Don’t forget your dimmers!

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On Adding Recessed Lighting

“Are there any ‘rules of thumb’ for adding recessed lighting to a bedroom and is there anything else you need to know before buying?”

It's a bit hard to answer the question in a general sense, but these are the questions we'd need to ask:

  • Is there insulation in the ceiling? (If so, you need an IC-rated housing.)
  • Do you have access to the ceiling from above, or will you be cutting in holes from below? (If you have access, you use a "new-construction" type housing. If not, you use a “remodeler” style.)
  • How high are the ceilings? (This will help determine what size aperture fixture to use.)
  • Do you want general illumination, or do you want to highlight or spotlight certain architectural features or artwork? (If general, you might use a basic white or black baffle with an incandescent flood bulb. If highlighting, a low-voltage MR16 fixture would be better.)

As for “rules of thumb,” most average-sized bedrooms where you want general illumination would need four 5" regular downlights. We place them 2-3' from the walls, and then they're usually about 4-6' apart.

Exterior Fixtures

Good outdoor lighting is one of the least expensive and most effective security measures a homeowner can take. Be certain your fixtures are rated and wired for outdoor use. Try to illuminate all sides of your home. The largest fixtures should be placed at the entrance.

If you are using an overhead fixture that will be walked under, the fixture should hang 7 feet or more above the floor. You can use the room dimensions method discussed above to determine size here – but when in doubt, go larger. Wall lanterns flanking the entrance should be mounted 66 inches above the bottom of the door – slightly above eye level. If using a single wall lantern, install it on the keyhole side of the door. Wall lanterns should be 1/4 to 1/3 of the size of your front door.

Hope this helps you get started... remember these are only guidelines!