lighting options for large open concept?

Studio HomesAugust 29, 2013
building a new house and can not figure out proper lighting. Its a large open area with kitchen, dining area, and living room. Its all 9 ft ceilings except the 19x16.5 living room which has 12 ft ceilings.

I can understand the dining having a hanging light fixture....and the kitchens I do always have potlights and pendants over the island. But the living room ....well I usually do all potlights (8-12) ....is there not something more creative our beautiful to do? Maybe in addition to pots?

I LOVE potlights...but 12 ft high seems like the lighting might be poor. I prefer a modern design so if that helps and you have any suggestions or photos I would love to hear from you.
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Fred S
12' is a good height for recessed cans in a living room. They are high enough to spread the light out better and give it a softer feel. Generally you want ambient light in a living room, not work light. Do the winters get long and dark where you live? Try using a PAR halogen bulb. They are a bit more full specrtum, toward daylight rather than warm white. You can also add light to a window valance down lower.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 5:09PM
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PRO
Stanton Designs-online design services
A properly lit room is all about layer. You can't achieve that by one type of light. If you were to add table or floor lamps, that will help bring some light to eye level.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 5:22PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
Consider indirect lighting through the use of cove lighting and other techniques. It will illuminate the upper third of your room to compliment its volume and show off molding or ceiling details while not competing with more intimate lighting in your sitting areas.

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    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 5:34PM
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Fred S
@Stanton, they are spec home builders in Nova Scotia. I am assuming they are talking about the fixed lighting side of the equation? Doubt they sell table lamps with the house. Just my guess :)
    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 5:44PM
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PRO
Studio Homes
Thanks Fred... you are correct but thinking about table lamps will enable me to have outlets in appropriate places.
    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Studio Homes
I love the whole uplighting idea. i was wondering if the room should have other light fixtures on the ceiling...somehow it doesnt seem correct to me but is the room too large to just have potlights? does it need somethong to break up the size of the ceiling?
    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:44PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
What's happening on the walls of this family room area...doors to the exterior, fireplace, high windows,"gallery wall"? If there are focal points that can be highlighted, then position your ceiling lighting or perimeter soffit lighting to maximize that opportunity.
    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Studio Homes
Thank you Scott Design... yes I have 2 small windows in the upper corners of one wall followed by 2 more same width windows below them but 6 ft tall. now up the center of these windows will be a fireplace (unsure of the finish...stone or tile or just paint). Then cutting through the tall fp will be a skinny soffit/bulk dividing the upper and lower windows. I was thinkin uplighting on the soffit but how many pots in a room this size? And what ki.d of layout? Do you just lay them out in a grid?
    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
I don't use recessed lights in high residential ceilings for general lighting. I prefer to emphasize the height, highlight certain focal points and encourage intimate gatherings with table/floor lighting using strategically placed floor outlets as Stanton mentioned earlier...layering. Sorry, I really can't help you with placement of recessed lights for this application.
    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 5:20PM
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Fred S
I don't generally use recessed lights in living rooms for general lighting either, at any height ceiling. As Scott Design says, use it to highlight the fireplace, lighten a dark corner, emphasise focal points, etc. That will give you enough ambient lighting as a byproduct in that "layer" to walk through the room or have a relaxing conversation. If there is a TV in the room, you will want lights on enough seperate switches to have some lights on without interfering with the TV.
    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 5:35PM
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Studio Homes
This is kinda what I was thinking.... but if not recessed lighti.g then what would you actually do? Do you guys mean actually no light fixtures on the ceiling unless its for hivhloghting a focal point? If so then im not sure there could be enough lighting.... if you have table lamps and I wont because i wont be furnishing tbe house.... you hit the light switch and all you get is highlight lighting? I think Im missing something. Big space with minimal lighting? Maybe someone can throw a pic on here to give me a better idea.

Real appreciate these opinions and your guys' input. never done ceilings other than standard 9 foot except vaults and trays but i used recessed in the vaults and maybe you guys would have done something different. And the trays had a single chandelier...smaller rooms.
    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Fred S
A lot of houses in the U.S. only have the top half of the duplex receptacle operated by a switch for all the lighting in a living room. Then people pick out their own lamps to light the room. What I don't like about that is having all the lamps coming on at the same time. I prefer to have the table lamps be for individual personal use. That way, if someone wants to read while everyone else is watching TV, the light can be where you need it. I have rarely put in recessed lights in a grid pattern in a living room. An 8' or 9' ceiling is too low and causes a spotty feeling, as well as a more noticeable glare from the fixture. Anything above 12' is too high for a grid of recessed cans as Scott Designs said as well as it being harder to change bulbs. I have done a few ceilings at 12' in a grid pattern that turn out ok, but those lights tend to only get turned on rarely or when cleaning. Highlight lighting and other effect lighting give ambiance to a room and create moods. If you turn all these types of lighting on at one time, it can light a room pretty well. These types of lighting, done right actually show better in a house for sale than just bright general lighting. You have to keep in mind the uses of the room and separate the lighting on different switches to accommodate the multiple room uses.
    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 10:11PM
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Fred S
Paintable wall sconces can blend in with the wall and fill in some of the lighting gaps.
http://www.google.com/search?q=paintable+wall+sconces&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=VIEhUoe_GcK8rQGw2YGoCw&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAA&biw=533&bih=320#p=0
    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 10:45PM
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PRO
Scott Design, Inc.
You have the options of hanging light(s), wall sconces, possible recessed lights illuminating the corners, floor spots, valance or cove lighting in addition to table/floor lighting. It really depends on the configuration of the room and its relationship to other spaces, traffic patterns, and furniture placement options.

Since there are many ways to illuminate this room, I suggest you install one or two ceiling light boxes and be done with it. Hanging fixtures will not only illuminate the ceiling and provide ambient light for the room but will bring style to the empty space above. Then, if you want to go the extra mile, provide electrical junction boxes in critical, discreet areas for the future owner to use in developing their own plan.

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    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 1:06PM
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