Recessed Lighting Design

Recessed Lighting DesignGreat recessed lighting design often goes unnoticed, which is exactly what it’s supposed to do. Here are a few design principles that can help you create the perfect lighting in any room:

  • Recessed lighting should blend with the ceiling as much as possible.
  • Recessed lighting design is based on the concept of lighting layers.
  • Using zones will further enhance the design and function of the recessed lighting


Your Recessed Lights Should Disappear Into the Ceiling

One of the biggest benefits of recessed lighting is that it blends with the ceiling while providing excellent lighting in a room. While they can be beautiful to look at, they are usually not considered a focal point in a room. Their main purpose is function and appearance is secondary.

Here are the four primary factors that will cause recessed lights to stand out from the ceiling, and how to avoid them:

  1. Trim color – This one is fairly obvious. Installing a trim that is similar in color to the ceiling will blend best. It doesn’t have to be an exact match, but if the ceiling is white use white trims.
  2. Glare – Excessive glare from recessed lights can be bothersome and distracting. Choose trims that trap and shape light to minimize glare and reduce ceiling brightness.
  3. Incorrect Spacing – If the spacing between the lights is incorrect, they will seem like they don’t belong in the room. It may not be obvious at first, but it will draw attention to them (not to mention the uneven lighting they will create).
  4. Too few or too many lights – This applies to the general lighting layer (more on this in the next section). Having too few or too many recessed lights installed in a room will look unnatural.


Layers Satisfy Needs

Recessed lighting design is based on the concept of three different needs for lighting in a room. Each need is satisfied by a lighting layer, or group of lights dedicated to a specific purpose.

The three layers used in lighting design are: General Lighting, Task Lighting, and Accent Lighting.

General Lighting

Light is essential for almost every activity (except sleep), therefore every room in a home needs a form of general lighting.

Recessed lighting is ideal for general lighting. A general lighting layout should be based on the room itself, not the furniture or anything else in the room.


Task Lighting

Task lighting is in addition to (not instead of) the general lighting layer. Common areas where recessed task lighting is used are kitchens, bathrooms, home offices, craft rooms, work spaces, etc..


Accent Lighting

Using recessed lights for accent lighting is very effective because of their ability to blend with the ceiling. Highlighting artwork, pictures, fireplace mantles, plants, and drapes are just a few examples of popular uses for recessed accent lighting.

Zones Create Flexibility

The design and function of the lighting layers can be further enhanced by having the ability to control them independently from each other. A group of lights that are controlled together is referred to as a zone.

Each lighting layer should be its own zone. This creates much more flexibility by allowing the user to set the lighting according to how the room is being used at any given time.

For example; while entertaining, the general lighting layer can be dimmed slightly so that the accent lighting layer is brighter. This will draw attention to the features of the room that the accent lighting is focused on while still providing general lighting for the room.

Now that you know the basics of recessed lighting design, let’s move on to calculating how many recessed lights each room will need…