The Perfect Lighting Design For Home Remodeling Projects

Understanding The Basics Of Lighting Design When Remodeling

Lighting design usually accounts for a small portion of a homeowner's remodel budget, but it has a huge impact. From a practical standpoint, lighting is fundamental to the usability of any space. For any activity you do in your home – from chopping veggies in the kitchen, to reading in the study – the right level and type of illumination is key. As we here at Degnan know, there is a nearly overwhelming number of choices ranging from stylish minimalism to luxurious complexity. Understanding the basics of lighting design ensures that you can work with your design-build team to make the most of your space and your budget.

What are the basic features of light?

Color - The color “temperature” of your light is measured in Kelvins (K). The higher the K, the cooler the color. Daylight comes in on the high end at around 10,000K and firelight on the low at 1,900K. Most standard lightbulbs fall in the 2,500-6,500K range. Warm light creates a cozy, intimate atmosphere for any space, while cool light brings more of a clean and vibrant feel.

Brightness - The amount of light you get from your bulbs is their brightness. In modern lighting design, this is measured in lumens. There is an overall lumen recommendation for different rooms in the home, as well as a specific recommendation for the level of brightness needed to do different tasks. If you are older or have weak eyesight, these recommendations should be increased to meet your needs.

Wattage - The amount of electricity used by your bulbs. Wattage does not necessarily affect the visual aspect of your lighting design (although traditionally higher wattage means higher lumens), but taking it into consideration and choosing lower-wattage lighting set-ups is a smart financial and environmental choice in the long-term.

How should I be using light?

For ambience - This is the general, all-purpose lighting in the room. When considering your ambient lighting, think about the size of the room, the overall level of light needed, and the general atmosphere you want to create. Also, ambient light should still be carefully positioned – in your kitchen, placing light along the sides of the ceiling rather than the center to make sure the most-used areas are the best-lit. In a dining or living area, avoid placing lights directly over the seating, as it creates shadows directly on the seated person.

For tasks - Task lighting illuminates areas that you will use for specific functions. In the kitchen, this means pendants and even under-cabinet lights to illuminate food prep areas. In the bedroom, this means a bedside lamp or fixture that will work for you whether you’re reading in the night, getting dressed, or making the bed. If you’re not sure how much illumination you’ll need in different heavily-used areas of the home, consult an online reference or a professional lighting designer.

For accents - Accent lighting exists to highlight focal points in a space, including artwork, displays, and centerpieces. These are usually small, focused lights designed to draw the eye. When you are thinking about your remodeled space, consider where you might want to use accent lighting to showcase your personal style.

Lighting Design for Problem-Solving

Bad lighting design can ruin the aesthetics and usefulness of an otherwise well-designed room. But a strong design can enhance and even revitalize problem areas in your home.

  • For smaller spaces, illuminating the ceilings and walls makes space seem larger

  • For spaces that will be used both by day and by night, consider installing a dimmer to add more functionality to your lighting set-up. No one enjoys getting blinded during their nightly visit to the restroom.

  • Recessed lights are a sophisticated choice that serve many different lighting design purposes. As ambient lights, they create a sleek, modern look. As task lighting, they are a covert way to add illumination anywhere it’s needed.

  • For areas where you will be looking at digital screens, such as a home office or living room, adjustable or portable lighting (such as lamps) can be a lifesaver for ensuring you’ll never have to deal with annoying glare.

Regardless of the size of your project, investing in good lighting design is a smart choice for the long-term usability – and enjoyability – of your home.


About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.