Home Lighting Series

Bedroom Lighting:

Did you know there is actually a formula for determining the right size of fixture for your room?  Thinking of updating your light fixtures, remodeling or planning a new build?  This information will get you started on the right path.


To determine the diameter of a light fixture that’s best for your space:

1.      Measure the length and width of the room in feet.

Example:  10 feet by 12 feet

2.      Add the two lengths together.

10 + 12 = 22 feet

3.      Swap the value in feet for inches.

22 feet => 22 inches

4.      Ideal diameter light fixture in this room.

22 inches wide


To determine the height of a light fixture that’s best for your space:

1.      Height of the room.

10 feet high

2.      Multiply the height by 2.5” to 3” per foot.

10 x 2.5” to 3” = 25-30 feet

3.      Swap the value in feet for inches.

25-30 inches

4.      Ideal height light fixture in this room.

25-30 inches

So for this room, you’ll want to look for a light fixture around 22 inches wide and 25-30 inches tall.

If the ceiling height is 8 feet or less, a flush mount or semi-flush mount will still leave enough head room clearance for people walking under the light. Chandeliers and hanging pendants work best on ceilings at least 10 feet high or on cathedral ceilings.

One lighting strategy is to regard the bed area in a large room as a major lighting focal point. Rather than placing a single ceiling fixture in the center of the room, treat the area around your bed as a separate zone and center the ceiling fixture over that area. In a 15-by-20-foot bedroom, you could focus on lighting a 10-foot by 15-foot sleeping area. Provide additional lamps, wall fixtures or pendant lamps for each of the other major activity areas.

Another factor to keep in mind is how bright the room is.  A foot-candle is how bright the light is one foot away from the source. Lighting requirements/needs vary depending on the type of room being lit. For example, a bathroom or kitchen will require more foot-candles than a living room or bedroom.

Living Room
Kitchen General
Kitchen Stove
Kitchen Sink
Dining Room
Bed Room
Hall Way

Foot Candles Needed

Lumen is a unit of measurement of light. A lumen is a way of measuring how much light gets to what you want to light. To determine the needed lumens, you will need to multiply your room square footage by your room foot-candle requirement.

For example, a 100 square foot living room, which needs 10-20 foot-candles, will need 1,000-2,000 lumens. A 100 square foot dining room, which needs 30-40 foot-candles, will need 3,000-4,000 lumens.  Use a combination of light layers to bring up the lumens required (for example, recessed light + sconces + table lamps, etc).

Planning a more contemporary or modern home?  Let’s talk recessed lighting.

To make sure recessed lights are spread evenly, divide the ceiling height by 2. An 8-foot ceiling, for example, would yield recessed lights placed about 4 feet apart. This is just a general rule of thumb and may not apply, especially if you want to place recessed downlights in very specific areas or you're adding the lights to a small room. If you need to place lights closer together, place them on a dimmer so that you can adjust the light level for comfort. Place the lights about 3 feet away from the walls so that the lights don't create shadows that make the ceiling seem lower. When you're planning out a recessed downlight scheme, it's a good idea to draw a diagram of the room first and include representations of the furniture and objects (particularly if you need to put a light above certain things).

In bedrooms, go for up to 30” when lamps are on bedside tables.  A rule of thumb is that the lamp should be no more than 1.5 times the height of whatever the lamp is sitting on and lampshade diameter should be no wider than the table top.

When mounting swing-arm wall lamps beside a bed, get the most ideal height by sitting in the bed normally and then having someone measure the height from the floor to just above your shoulder. The most ideal spot for wall lamps is between your head and the work surface (in this case, things like a book or tablet computer).

Having lights on separate switches lets you target areas for soft or bright light, and thus can save energy. Dimmer switches are not just for a main ceiling fixture but for other lights as well.


Ceiling light fixtures come in a wide variety of materials, styles and colors. The design of the light can actually affect how large or small it appears. A ceiling fixture with a complex design may actually appear larger than it really is. In this case, you may want to scale down the size of the fixture slightly to keep the room looking balanced. Also, don’t worry if the fixture you find is a few inches larger or smaller than the number you came up with, as long as it is close to that size.


·         A bedroom with a low ceiling may benefit from several smaller fixtures

·         A room with a high cathedral ceiling may need light fixtures that hang and bring the focus of light to the lower walls and floor.

·         A single large ceiling fixture in a small room may pull the ceiling down visually because it looks heavy.

·         Try hanging a chandelier in a little girl’s room.


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