Lighting the Way

by Joayce Bean, Lighting Specialist, Ferguson

Part of the function of any lighting is to serve the individual needs, tastes and desires of the homeowner. You must gather general information about your customer’s needs for each room. I like at least three layers of light in each room, and dimmers are a must!

The Basics: 3 Types of lighting that work in your home

Ambiance Lighting.
General illumination for atmosphere, safety, security and general activities

Task Lighting.
Localized light needed for specific visual activities – reading, sewing, grooming and food preparation

Accent Lighting.
Localized and directional light used to highlight and dramatize such things as art pieces,
architectural features, paintings, plants and collections

Are you building or remodeling?
What is the style of your home and furnishings?
Do you have your house plans?
Did you bring any photos of what you like?
How do members of your family use each room?
Rules Of Thumb For Placing Lighting
• Bath fixtures should be 78 inches from the floor.

•Sconces should be 60 inches from the floor.

• To size a chandelier for your dining room, measure length and width of the room and add those figures together. The sum in inches will equal the diameter of the correct size chandelier.

• The bottom of the chandelier should not be lower than 30 inches above the table top. This is for an eight-foot ceiling. Add three inches higher for each additional foot of ceiling height.

• When using table lamps, your overall size should be based on the height of your seating and table. The lower rim of the lampshade should be between shoulder and eye level. Lampshades should never exceed the diameter of the surface of the table.

• Fans and fixtures should not be hung any lower than seven feet.

• For a two-story foyer, if there is a window above the front door, center the chandelier so it can be seen from outside.

• Outdoor lanterns on both sides of your front door should be approximately 66 inches above the bottom of the door.


Install dimmer switches on as many lamps and light fixtures as you can. You will have control over intensity of light around your home and save energy at the same time.

The Perks of Dimming:

• Lower light levels to conserve energy and increase bulb life.

• Vary the mood of a room.

• Alter the intensity of the light to suit the activity.

• Create a number of different lighting schemes in a room.

All types of lighting fixtures can be used in almost every room. Chandeliers are used in bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, pantries, hallways and even porches. After all, porches have become an extension of the main house. Recessed lighting can be used in any room as a primary source of light, and task lighting in kitchens, laundry rooms, offices and computer rooms for children is a must. Sconces can be used in family rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways, while low voltage can lights are a must for highlighting art in any room. And lanterns are no longer just for outdoors – they are being used in breakfast areas, foyers, bedrooms and larger bathrooms.

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