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Among the many things that make a home renovation successful, lighting design is one of the most important aspects. Ideally, lighting ought to be both functional and stylish at the same time. This is doubly important while you’re choosing lighting for your living room, arguably the most popular room of any home after the kitchen. Among the different types of lighting options, recessed lighting fixtures are a popular choice for common areas like living rooms. However, you can’t just install recessed lights willy-nilly. You need to have a plan. Here are some recessed lighting layout living room tips to help you plan how you want your lighting installed.

What Are Recessed Lights?

recessed lights

Recessed lights are lighting fixtures that are installed into holes in your ceiling. They’re also popularly known as canned lights, pot lights, or high hats.

Getting the best out of your recessed lights is not very difficult. All you need is a clear idea of its purpose and some calculations.

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The planning stage

Planning where you are going to install recessed lighting in the room is the first step in the installation process.

Invoke your inner Michelangelo and make a rough sketch of the layout of your living room. We’d advise using a graph paper and a scale to actually measure and scale down the room. This will be your guide.

Make sure to also include the room’s contents and furniture in your sketch. This will come in handy while planning your light placements.

Ceiling height formula

Based on the purpose of your recessed lights, there are simple formulae for you to apply to get the most out of them. However, the first thing you need to calculate is the spacing of lights in your living room based on your ceiling height.

The rule of thumb to spacing your recessed lights is to measure your ceiling height and then divide that in half. That means if you have a ten-foot ceiling, the placement of your lights needs to be five feet apart.

Purposes and formulae

recessed lighting layout

1. Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting refers to the general lighting in a room. Ideally, ambient lighting ought to disperse an even, comfortable glow without being too overpowering.

Let us begin with wattage. To arrive at the wattage required to light up your living room, multiply the length into the width of the room into 1.5.

For example, let us assume your living room is 20 feet long and 15 feet wide. The formula to get wattage would be:

20 x 15 x 1.5 =  450.

Next, we’ll calculate the number of lights you will need. If you choose 40 watt LED bulbs, you will need 12 cans to sufficiently light your living room.

You could place them in three rows of 4 bulbs each.

Remember, if your ceiling height is 10 feet, your lights ought to be 5 feet away from each other. Another rule of thumb is to divide that number in half to arrive at the distance you ought to maintain from the wall. In this case, that distance would be 2.5 feet.

2. Task lighting

Task lighting is the lighting you need to see better and reduce eye strain. Unless your task area is too close to the wall, the formulae you use to position your recessed task lights are the same as with ambient lighting. 

However, if your work area is close to a wall, then measure the distance from your task surface, like your work desk, for example, and the ceiling. Divide that number by four to determine the ideal distance between the wall and your lights.

3. Accent lighting

If you want a piece of art or a particular object in your living room to become a focal point, you will need accent lighting to draw attention to it. Recessed lighting can make that happen for you.

For an accent light to highlight a piece of art on a wall or an ornamental backsplash, the rule of thumb is to have the lights 1.5 to 3 feet away from the wall. If your focal points are not on the wall but are kept away from it, then make sure you measure the same distance from them to know where to accurately install your accent lights. If you have multiple display pieces, make sure they are placed equidistant from each other, so your lights can be installed similarly.

How much does recessed lighting for a living room cost?

recessed lighting living room cost

Recessed lighting isn’t particularly cheap. Expect to pay between $240 to $480 per fixture, with the national average hovering around the $360 mark.

Of course, how much you spend will eventually depend on the size of your living room, the kind of trim your living room has, whether you want LED recessed lighting, or regular bulbs, whether you want dimmers installed, whether you want smart LEDs or regular ones and other allied factors.

Want accurate estimates to help plan your fall home renovation? Click here to use our free estimation calculator.

Recessed Lighting Layout Living Room Tips was last modified: October 15th, 2020 by Narayan Shrouthy
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