A Lesson In Lighting: What You Need To Know To Light Your Home Properly

| , Special to Cityline.ca
Kitchen With Proper Lighting

When designing your home, it’s important not to minimize the impact of lighting. Here, Karen Sealy shares her advice on what to do when you’re planning out the lighting in your space, as well as a glossary of common lighting types and where you might want to employ them.

Lighting 101

1. Always do a furniture plan before finalizing your lighting (Reflected Ceiling Plan or RCP) and electrical plan.

2. Pick your fixtures before finalizing your lighting (RCP) and electrical plan. Sconces are particularly important since the height of the floor is fixed (once installed) and can vary greatly with your specific choice. Some fixtures are very heavy and may require extra support behind the wall or ceiling.

3. Pick your casing/trim before the boxes for the switches are installed since wider casing may require moving these away from a doorway to allow for the casing and some wall space before the wall plate.

4. Put everything on dimmers (different bulbs/lamps require different dimmers so make sure you pair these properly or you might blow the dimmer or get a buzzing sound).

5. Always do a site walk-through with your electrical plan in hand before the final wall finishes go up to ensure it makes sense to you. Changes are far easier and cheaper when the walls are open.

Lighting glossary


The best lighting allows you to set the light levels based on your mood and/or specific function at the time within the space so that you can create a layered effect. This means all lights should be dimmable to give you the most control.

1. General/ Overall Lighting

  • General light throughout, most commonly as pot lights/recessed downs or other overhead lights.
  • Pot lights are made to accommodate specific bulbs — MR16, PAR, LED — and have different features (size, tilting or fixed, light beam spread, colour of light from bluish to very warm white, energy requirements) so it’s important to know these features when placing these and selecting the one that’s right for the space.

2. Accent/ Decorative Lighting

  • Provides ambience to a space and is generally a softer, muted light in comparison to general/overall lighting.
  • Accent and decorative lighting comes in many forms including pendant lights, wall lights (such as sconces) and table or floor lamps.

3. Task Lighting

  • Provides lighting that is specific to a certain task such as desk lamps, reading lights or spot lights (used for highlighting architectural details, art, etc.) or under cabinet lights to remove shadows that are often created when we work with pot lights at our back.