How To Plan Lighting
Serving Austin & the Dallas Metroplex
Doris Younger, ASID, RID | TX Certified Interior Designer #2977

How To Plan Lighting

Lighting has a beautiful way of bringing a room to life.  When properly selected, lighting fixtures and lamps become decorative accessories as well as functional objects.  Rooms require light that’s evenly dispersed to prevent glare or dark corners.  Since natural light is rarely sufficient, three levels of light are needed:  overhead lighting for the most ambient light, floor lamps and table lamps.  Thus, three levels of light emerge; ceiling height, mid-height and lower height, adding interest to a room.  Up-lights behind plants add additional interest and mood and, where possible, lights should be on a dimmer for control. The first thing to consider when selecting lighting is how many  light sources your room will actually need.  A small room will need at least 3 sources of light, while a larger room will need at least 5 sources of light to be pleasing.

There are three distinct types of lighting:

  1. Ambient: For overall general illumination such as ceiling fixtures.
  2. Task:  For specific functions such as reading, sewing or writing.
  3. Focal:  For accenting a particular area or item such as a sculpture or painting.

Next consider how the lamps will be used.

Desk Lamps with the bottom of the shade about 15” above the working surface will have an even spread of light. If you are right handed, the desk lamp should be placed on the left side and vice versa.

Table Lamps should measure no more than 20” higher than the bed to avoid glare. Floor lamp measurement from floor to shade bottom should be 47” to 49”.  For reading, place about 10” behind the chair seat.

Chandeliers used in a dining room are often the most important decorative, as well as practical accessory. When used over a dining table, the bottom of a chandelier should be at least 30” off the surface.  Remember that a chandelier’s size should relate not only to the room but, more importantly, to your table.  A radius of approximately 10” should be allowed from the chandelier edge to the table edge, all around.

A successful room includes a mixture of brighter and more subtle lighting.  A mix of shadows and brights creates an eye-pleasing effect.  Bright light directed to a wall can actually make a room seem larger by pushing it outward.

At DYD, our resources include an unlimited selection of lighting styles to complement any interior design.  We have extensive training regarding lighting ideas and techniques and would love to work with you on a lighting plan that would enhance your setting.

Just for Fun with Doris Younger Designs

The evolution of furniture from utilitarian to artful is often a key to the manners, mores and means of other times and places.  In that spirit and just for fun, here are “romance” stories about some of those pieces picked up over thirty five years of studying and practicing interior design.  Are they true? I don’t know for sure but if not, I’m sure at the very least they contain seeds of truth in the development of traditional furniture styles and, as I said, just for fun……. Read More fun stories here.