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Guide To Ceiling Lights: High And Low Ceilings

Guide To Ceiling Lights: High And Low Ceilings

When it comes to the look and feel of your space, ceiling height matters. Low ceilings tend to make a room feel small and cluttered and high ceilings leave too much space for you to feel cozy. Lighting these rooms can be tricky but, if done correctly, can provide maximum comfort that is functional and stylish. Create impressive lighting designs with limited fixture choices. Bring warmth and charm into large spaces. Don’t let your ceiling height keep you from having the perfect room.

Low Ceilings

Flush mount and semi flush mount

Close to ceiling lights are preferred over hanging lights for ceilings 8ft and lower. Pendants and chandeliers don’t leave much space underneath to prevent you from walking into them. Flush mounts and semi flush mounts don’t take up much room since they are flush against the ceiling. There is a downside to these fixtures. Because they mainly serve a functional purpose, they tend to have simple designs. But simple doesn’t have to mean boring. A basic fixture with clean lines can add some character to a hall or closet.

More decorative flush mount and semi flush lights are becoming available. This gives you more options for lighting your space with style. Flush mount versions of chandelier collections are gaining popularity. Close to ceiling lights are being designed to resemble pendants but with shades that provide softly diffused ambient lighting. Make a statement with a crystal close to ceiling light. A simple industrial style fixture over your bathtub adds intrigue and keeps you from hitting your head when getting out. Consider a flush mount, or hugger, fan for your bedroom or living room. That way, you illuminate the space while keeping it at a comfortable temperature. Code requires at least 7ft of clearance between the floor and blades so make sure to size it beforehand. Check the specifications for the height from the ceiling to the bottom of the fan body to help you choose the proper size.


Decorative flush mount

Semi-flush mount

Recessed lighting

Most recessed lights are designed to blend in seamlessly with the space, but there are decorative styles. Choose from glass, crystals, and other designs to add drama. Thanks to LED technology, recessed lighting no longer needs 2 to 3 inches of space between the housing and insulation. This means you have more placement options. But don’t buy your lights without consulting a professional so you know the proper type, size, and placement of your recessed lights.


Recessed lights

Hanging lights: chandeliers and pendants

You don’t have to rule out chandeliers and pendants. They may work with a low ceiling so long as you consider the space and room layout. However, chandeliers are not ideal for a room layout that is frequently rearranged. You must have enough clearance for fixtures above walkways or placed over a kitchen island, sink, or tables. If installing one or more hanging light fixtures, 70 inches above the floor is the minimum height for maximum comfort.

Dramatic fixtures can hang no lower than 16”. If your ceiling height isn’t high enough, make up for it with a wider fixture to create drama. Use a low profile fixture with a large diameter. Place compact or wider chandeliers and pendants over table surfaces, leaving 26-30 inches of clearance. Add a dramatic effect with a longer linear suspension chandelier. Multiple smaller pendants over longer dining tables is another trendy choice. Several pendants can serve decorative purposes in modern spaces or areas typically used for socializing.

Cord and chain-hung fixtures are easily adjustable to accommodate ceiling height. Downrods are trickier. You must make sure the length works in the space first. Rooms with high ceilings tend to have natural light. If your room is two stories high, then make sure your hanging fixtures align with windows. Control these lights with dimmable bulbs, preferably LEDs, to accommodate the changing daylight.

Increasing ceiling height: fixture designs

There are certain fixtures that will add height and width to a room with a low ceiling. Go classic with a white close to ceiling light. It blends with the ceiling color, giving the appearance of a bigger room and adds texture for visual intrigue. Another version of classic lighting, but with a contemporary twist, are neutral fixtures with repeating geometric patterns. Or, instead of increasing ceiling size, focus on the fixture. Create drama and make a statement with bold, vibrant colors, or patterns like stripes or polka dots. Modern or contemporary lighting produces drama. When ceiling lighting is dramatic it creates a focal point. The eyes are drawn towards it, giving the illusion of a larger room. Try industrial lighting. It has clean lines and a warm feel. The zinc, steel, chrome, and wire design add traditional flair. Consider elegant modern lighting fixtures.

High Ceilings

Rule of thirds

High ceilings can make a room feel cold rather than homely. Furniture and wall hangings do a lot to reduce room size. Proper lighting will help fill the room, too. The rule of thirds is a manipulative tactic that makes the room appear smaller and gives it a cohesive look. To achieve this illusion, divide the room into the top, middle, and bottom. Each level has its own lighting setup.

Top Level

The top section is reserved for larger or higher hanging light fixtures, recessed lights, track lighting, and fans. This space creates ambient lighting. Hanging chandeliers or pendants lowers ceilings by acting as a focal point.

Sleekly designed recessed< lights give ambient lighting without cluttering the space. These fixtures also eliminate ceiling and wall shadows. Position them on the ceiling with enough space in between each light to evenly distribute illumination. Lining them along the edge of the ceiling removes any wall shadows. Use recessed lights as ambient lighting on their own or with hanging fixtures. Place recessed lights around a central fixture, such as a hanging light, to create a focal point. Sloped ceiling lights and adjustable recessed lights are your other fixture options.

Track lighting allows you to reposition track heads towards different areas in the room for balanced light distribution. Or you can provide accent lighting by highlighting specific spots in the room, such as the middle level or tables on the bottom level. Washing walls with track lighting highlights texture and prevents wall shadows. Track lights are not meant for ambient lighting because it causes glare. Strip lighting increases illumination or highlights architectural features, such as high shelves, coves, cathedral ceilings, and arches. They highlight texture or create warmth. Make the ceiling appear lower and give the entire area ambience by reflecting light down. Add softer balanced light to the room by concealing the strips behind soffits. Whether you use track or strip lighting depends on ceiling characteristics. Tape lights, rope lights, and puck lights may also be used as accent lighting for architectural detail.

Middle Level

Wall hangings are in the middle section, along with floor lamps, wall sconces, or low-hanging pendants. Wall lights seamlessly blend the top and middle levels of the room. Place them at eye level or higher on the middle level. Go for rounder or fluid shapes to create a focal point for wall hangings and furniture. Stay away from vertical sconces because they only draw attention to your high ceilings. Instead, use wall sconces that emit light both upward and downward to illuminate walls and ceilings. Put your wall lights on dimmers to accommodate whatever activities you’re performing at the moment or for mood. When placing the lights, consider standing or sitting near the sconce to test for glare.

Bottom level

Your bottom level comprises of furniture or wall paneling. This is where table lamps, step lights, or uplights go. Light floors with floor lamps or portable lighting that you can easily move around the room if needed. When lamps and fixtures serve as accent lighting, they create pools of light that affect ceiling height. If you decide to add visual intrigue with accent lighting then use large lamps and small accent lights. Be careful not to underlight features when using this layer.

Lighting in sections produces focal points which makes the space appear smaller. Lighting can also act as a divider between different rooms. For example, have table lamps mark the living room, place pendants over a dining table to signify the dining room, and so on.



Even light distribution

When you position too many lights towards the middle of the room, the ceiling appears higher and darker. Too many lights on the top level leaves you with an overlit space. Bigger spaces can cause pockets of overlit areas and dimly lit areas. Even light distribution gives you a comfortable atmosphere. All lighting layers are necessary. Start with ambient lighting. This layer determines lamp placement.

Chandeliers act as ambient light and work wonders for balanced illumination. Opt for those with globe lights, candle lights or combine lights with sparkling features like crystals, prisms, and beads. Globe lamps or translucent shades, or other designs that simultaneously light upward and downward are ideal. Your chandelier must have the right diameter. Adding the room length and width gives you the diameter in inches. Drum shades are best for providing even light. Choose translucent shades over opaque ones because they are better diffusers. Opaque shades also hinder upward lighting. LEDs are emit optimal bright light and last longer than other bulbs, so you don’t have to worry about frequent replacement.

Keep in mind that when lighting your room, don’t stray from the theme. Have your fixture finish or material be the same color as the room you are lighting or use the light to highlight same-colored features. Your fixture should complement the room. These rules are flexible, so feel free to make changes to suit your personal needs and preferences.

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