Determining lighting requirements

How to determine lighting requirements

Lighting plays a crucial role in enhancing the functionality and ambiance of a room. It provides visibility for reading, working, and other activities. It also contributes to the overall aesthetic appeal of a space. To determine the lighting requirements of a room, it is essential to understand the purpose of the room. This information can be obtained through discussions with the client during the initial consultation.

If the room is intended for entertainment, the lighting requirements would be vastly different than those for a room used for working. In an entertainment space, the lighting is typically used to create a welcoming atmosphere that complements the mood of the room. On the other hand, in a work environment, task lighting is crucial for providing adequate lighting to carry out tasks comfortably. 

Understanding the intended purpose of a room is critical in determining the lighting needs and creating an ambiance that meets the client’s requirements.

First, consider what lighting is already available:

  • What is the level of natural light present in the room?
  • Where are the existing light fixtures located?
  • Would additional light fixtures be required to meet the lighting needs of the space?
  • Which floor or table lamps are planned for use in the area?
  • Are candles intended to be used to enhance the ambiance of the room?
  • Where will the various activities take place (such as working, reading, and dining)?
  • Is there any interest in adding accent lighting to spotlight a particular object or piece of art?

After you have considered the items above, you will be in a better position to determine what type of lighting is still required for the room. 

The Different Types of Lighting

The Different Types of Lighting

There are several types of lighting that can be used in a room to create different effects and serve various purposes. Here are some of the most common types of lighting:

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting provides overall illumination to a room and is typically the first layer of light in a lighting design. It sets the tone for the space and can help to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Examples of ambient lighting include overhead fixtures like ceiling-mounted lights, chandeliers, or pendant lights. Recessed lighting is also a popular option for ambient lighting as it provides a soft glow that illuminates the room.

Task lighting

Task lighting is designed to provide focused and direct illumination for specific tasks such as reading, working, or cooking. It is typically brighter than ambient lighting and helps to reduce eye strain and improve productivity. Examples of task lighting include desk lamps, under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen, and pendant lights over a dining table.

Accent lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight or accentuate specific features in a room, such as artwork, sculptures, or architectural details. It adds depth and dimension to the space and creates visual interest. Examples of accent lighting include track lighting, spotlights, and wall-mounted fixtures. For example, a track light system can be used to highlight a gallery wall or a sculpture. In contrast, a spotlight can be used to highlight a bookshelf or a piece of artwork.

Decorative lighting

Decorative lighting serves as an aesthetic feature and adds visual interest to a room. It can be used as a focal point or a statement piece in the space. Examples of decorative lighting include chandeliers, pendant lights, and table lamps. For example, a statement chandelier in the entryway can create a dramatic effect. While a table lamp with a unique shade can add a unique feature to a living room.

Natural lighting

Natural lighting creates a connection with the outdoors and provides a sense of openness and airiness to a room. Examples of natural lighting include windows, glass doors, skylights, and light tubes. A room with large windows and a skylight can create a bright and open feeling. In contrast, a room with a light tube can provide natural light without the need for windows.

Mood lighting

Mood lighting is used to create a specific ambiance or mood in a room. It can be used to create a relaxing atmosphere or to create a party vibe. Examples of mood lighting include dimmer switches, colored bulbs, and candles. A dimmer switch can be used to adjust the level of light in a room and create a romantic ambiance. In contrast, candles can be used to add a cozy and intimate feel to a space.

Using Lamps for Lighting

When choosing a lamp for a client, several factors need to be considered, including the style and color of the lamp. You also need to consider the type of light it generates.

Floor and table lamps are commonly used for general lighting purposes in living rooms, dining rooms, and family rooms. Floor lamps are especially useful in illuminating areas that do not receive much light. Table lamps, on the other hand, can also be used in bedrooms. One of the advantages of using floor and table lamps is their portability. They can easily be moved from place to place without the need for an electrician, and they can add color, texture, and interest to a room. The average height of a table lamp ranges from 24′′ to 32′′. While the average height of a floor lamp ranges from 62′′ to 72′′.

Desk lamps are often used in office spaces or areas where hobbies, studying, or reading are done. They are normally between 12′′ to 20′′ high and are used as task lighting to illuminate a specific area. Table accent lamps are usually under 22′′ high and are often used in bedrooms, entranceways, hallways, and other areas that need extra lighting. Accent lamps, on the other hand, are used to highlight a particular piece of artwork or sculpture.

When it comes to decorating with lamps, it’s important to keep in mind that most people do not use enough lighting. Lamps serve two functions: adding more lighting and adding another decorative element. For a small to mid-size room, two to three floor or table lamps are typically recommended. In a large room, three to five floor or table lamps should be used in addition to the light fixtures already present in the room.

Before purchasing lamps, it’s essential to determine the lighting required for the room and whether additional lighting through light fixtures or lamps is needed. For example, if additional floor or table lamps are necessary, it’s important to select styles and colors that will work with the other pieces in the room. It’s also necessary to consider how much and what type of lighting is required for an area, how much light, and what light the lamp selected gives off.

Lamp shades come in different sizes, colors, fabrics, patterns, and textures. It’s essential to purchase a properly scaled shade for the lamp base to avoid selecting a shade that is too small or too large. When selecting lamps and shades, bring fabric swatches of furniture, flooring, and other room elements to ensure that the lamp and shade will complement each other.

Light bulbs are also crucial to consider when selecting lamps. The type of light bulb chosen depends on whether a mood needs to be set or a particular space needs to be accentuated. Light bulbs can also give off different colors and effects, such as warm or cool light. Today’s energy-conscious consumer prefers lower-wattage lighting. It’s essential to enquire about the availability of these bulbs for the selected lamp or type of lighting.

Light Fixtures

Lighting options for decorating a client’s home can go beyond just using lamps. There are a variety of ceiling and wall-mounted light fixtures that can be suitable for different rooms and purposes. It is important to consider the different types of lighting required for a space.

Ceiling light fixtures are a great way to provide general lighting to a room. Some popular options include:


These elaborate light fixtures have been a staple of home decor for centuries. They are usually hung from the ceiling in a dining room, living room, or foyer, adding elegance and grandeur to the space. Chandeliers feature a variety of materials, such as crystal or glass, and come in various styles and designs to match the interior decor. They provide ambient lighting and create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Pendant lights

These hanging lights are a popular choice for kitchen islands or dining areas, where they can provide focused task lighting. They also serve as a decorative element. Pendant lights can come in various shapes, sizes, and styles, ranging from industrial to modern to vintage. They are often grouped together in clusters or rows to create a dramatic effect.

Track lighting

This fixture features a track with adjustable lights that can be moved along it, providing flexibility for accent, task, or ambient lighting. Track lighting is ideal for highlighting specific areas or objects, such as artwork or architectural details. It can also be used to create a layered lighting scheme in a room, combining ambient and task lighting.


These lights are often used for accent lighting, highlighting specific objects or areas in a room. They can be mounted on tracks or recessed into the ceiling, providing a clean and unobtrusive look. Spotlights can come in various shapes and sizes, with adjustable or fixed beams. They can be used to create a dramatic effect or to draw attention to a particular feature.

Globe ceiling fixtures

These ceiling-mounted fixtures provide general lighting and can be found in various areas of a home, such as hallways, bathrooms, bedrooms, and laundry rooms. They feature a globe-shaped glass or acrylic shade that diffuses the light, creating a soft and even glow. Globe ceiling fixtures can come in various sizes and styles, from minimalist to ornate, and can be used to complement the decor of the room.

Wall-mounted light fixtures can also be decorative and useful for different purposes. Some popular options include:

Wall sconces

These are wall-mounted light fixtures that can provide accent lighting and add ambiance to a room. They can come in a variety of styles, from modern to traditional, and can be used to highlight architectural features, artwork, or other decorative elements. Wall sconces are often used in living rooms and dining rooms, but can also be used in hallways or bedrooms.

Wall lamps

These are wall-mounted fixtures that provide more general lighting than wall sconces. They are often used in bedrooms, where they can provide a soft and warm glow. Wall lamps can come in a variety of styles and can be used to complement the decor of the room.

Undershelf or undercabinet fixtures

These are fixtures that are installed underneath shelves or cabinets, providing task and accent lighting. They are often used in kitchens, where they can illuminate countertops and workspaces, or in display cabinets, where they can highlight objects or artwork. Undershelf or undercabinet fixtures can come in a variety of styles, from sleek and modern to traditional. They can be used to create a layered lighting scheme in a room.

When considering wall-mounted fixtures, it’s important to note that they can be difficult to install unless included in the early planning stages. They will need to be hard-wired in by a qualified electrician unless using the type of wall sconces with an enclosed electrical cord. To add versatility to light fixtures, it’s recommended to install dimmer switches. This allows for light to be adjusted based on the activity and mood desired.

Overall, it’s important to determine the different types of lighting required for a space and how they will be brought into the room. Lamps and light fixtures can be found at lighting stores, lighting showrooms, home improvement stores, and furniture stores.

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