How to Design The Recessed Lighting for a Room

Plan and design the recessed lighting for a room

Recessed lighting is the kind of home improvement that you want to get right the first time. This can be stressful for a homeowner because it’s hard to know exactly how the lighting will function until it has actually been installed and turned on. 

Fortunately, we have a tried and true method for planning and designing the recessed lighting for a room that’s based on the principle of lighting layers.

The 3 Layers of Recessed Lighting Design

When designing the recessed lighting for a room, approach it as three separate layers: General Lighting, Task Lighting, and Accent Lighting.

Consider how the room will be used. What activities will the occupants be performing, and which lighting layers would be beneficial?

General Lighting

Every room needs general lighting to provide overall light for the room.  The goal is to give you control over the ambient light in the room, day or night. The general lighting layer consists of a grid of lights spaced evenly across the ceiling. The cones of light that shine down from each recessed light will overlap and work together to fill the room with light.

1. Determine the number of lights that are appropriate for the room.
2. Based on the number of lights, decide on a layout (pattern).
3. Decide where and how you’d like to control the the lighting.
4. Choose the LED lights that you plan to use.

Task Lighting

If an area in the room would benefit from additional overhead lighting, consider adding task lights in addition to the general lighting. Its purpose is to provide additional light in areas where it would be beneficial for performing tasks.

Examples would be above a kitchen sink or island, above a desk in a home office, or above a reading chair in the corner of a room. Task lights should be controlled by their own switch, separate from the general lighting whenever possible.

Accent Lighting

The unobtrusive design of recessed lights makes them ideal for accent lighting. If appropriate for the room, choose one or more focal points such as artwork or architectural features to highlight. Niches and soffits are great places to install accent lights, and can provide a whole new feel to a room. Accent lights should also be controlled by their own switch. You can use this page for help with accent and art light placement.

If you follow these simple guidelines when planning a room for recessed lighting, your end result will be a functional and flexible design that brings life to any room.