Tip Tuesday | How to Layout Recessed Lighting

Pro Tip
Read Time:
8 Min
Haylie Lapinskas

How to Place Recessed Lighting

Everyone loves the look of recessed lighting. Recessed lighting adds ambient light that is incomparable to floor lamps. So what if you decide your home needs some recessed lighting? How would you begin to determine where to add lights and how closely to space them? How far off of the wall and what to center? Fear not, we are here to shed some light on the subject of recessed lighting! 

No one likes a swiss cheese ceiling. You know? The rooms where there are so many lights the ceiling looks like it’s polka dotted or made of swiss cheese?

Look at this block of cheese! Use this as your rule of thumb! Do not install this many recessed lights!

So First Things First:

Determine if you need to center a fixture on an important element in the room. Do you want a light to align with the kitchen sink, or stove, so you can achieve optimal lighting where you need it most? Or do you have beams that the fixtures need to be centered within? This is where you start. Centering fixtures will help you determine your starting point and how to layout the adjacent lights.

Check out the below ceiling plan from one of HaylieRead's soon to be completed main level remodel. Our starting point for the kitchen was the stove. We wanted to make sure the cooking surface had enough lighting, so we centered the first fixture on the stove.

Next Step is to "Float" the Lighting:

Our rule of thumb is to float the lighting in the room just far enough off of the adjacent walls so that you don’t create light "scalloping". Best practice, do not put a light closer than 3’ from the adjacent wall, unless of course, you are installing in a hallway. 

Here is a ceiling plan of a master bedroom HaylieRead just broke ground on. We centered a feature light fixture in the middle of the room, and arranged 4 recessed lights around.

Next Step is to Figure Out the Distance Between Fixtures

It is a good idea to leave at least 4’ to 6’ between fixtures. Any closer and you start to get that swiss cheese look. At HaylieRead we tend to land on 5’ between fixtures. This feels right for a low ceiling at 8’, and a higher ceiling at 9’- 10'. 

Now it is Time to Physically Lay it Out

So before cutting up your ceiling, make sure to review the above tips. 1) Do I need to align with any important features? 2) How far off of the wall? 3) What should be my ideal spacing? 

Once you have assessed the overall room, make sure to layout the location with tape first. We love this step. You start to see things from a different perspective when you physically put tape on the ceiling. 

And there you have it! If you are happy with the placement, now call the electrician over and begin shedding some light on your space!

Of course every room/space is different and poses its own unique challenges. If design was easy everyone would be an expert. So if you need an expert eye, we are here to help! Contact HaylieRead Design and we can tell you all about where to place lighting, what types of fixtures to choose, and even help you determine optimal switching!

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