Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor
Lighting for High Ceilings Planning Guide
Determining the best lighting for high ceilings will depend upon various factors including the type of room, the décor, and the amount of natural light available in the room.
When developing a lighting plan for a room with high ceilings, you will need to layer various types of lighting to produce optimal results. You will also need to consider the ceiling height and overall size of the room.
Lighting for High Ceilings – 3 Step Plan
When creating a lighting plan for high ceilings, you must address these three critical areas to provide effective lighting in your room for full coverage.
- Ambient Recessed Lighting
- Functional Pendants and Chandeliers
- Lamps for strategically placed task lighting
Below, we will take you through all three of these areas in greater detail. If you have any additional questions after reading through the full article, just ask in the comments section below and we will respond.
Ambient Recessed Lighting
The challenge with lighting a room with high ceilings is to prevent dark areas and to provide even and consistent lighting throughout the room. If you simply used a few lamps in a room with high ceilings, the room would feel closed in and you would not get the visual benefit or feeling of space of having the high ceilings.
The best way to provide that even and consistent ambient light in a room with high ceilings is to begin with recessed lighting. In the past, recessed lighting was not very efficient. Today, energy efficient LED recessed lighting is the best way to provide the first layer of lighting needed for a room with high ceilings.
We suggest reading our article on how to layout recessed lighting to develop a plan for your ceiling. If your room has an angled or slanted ceiling, you will need to use adjustable recessed lighting fixtures to make sure the light is pointing straight down
The goal for the recessed lighting is to completely and evenly fill the room with light without any dark spots. Think recessed lighting as the even coat of paint on your walls which provides a base for which you will decorate the rest of the room.
We have researched most of the recessed lighting options on the market today. If you have not made your recessed lighting purchase yet, then you may want to see our article on recommended recessed lighting fixtures.
Functional Pendants and Chandeliers
Step 2 of lighting a room with high ceilings is to create a layer of light by adding pendant lights or chandeliers. The goal here is to provide additional lighting over large targets areas such as over a table, counter, or where two couches meet.
Pendant lighting has become extremely popular over the years. They are very versatile and can be replaced if your taste or décor changes over time. If you have high ceilings in a kitchen, pendant lights would be perfect directly over your center island our peninsula.
We wrote an article on the best pendant lighting options which may help you to understand everything to consider with pendant lights. Then, we offer a few recommendations. The best thing about pendant lighting today is the huge variety and choices. There are almost too many options which makes choosing just one very difficult.
Round chandeliers are an option to use over a table in a room that has high ceilings. However, linear chandeliers have risen in popularity over time. They are available in various styles and options and can also be used over recreational areas such as pool tables.
Both pendant lighting and chandeliers will provide for the additional lumens needed in strategic areas. They also bring some style and décor that helps tie the room together.
Lamps for Strategically Placed Task Lighting
The final piece in lighting a room with high ceilings is to add lamps in targeted areas where additional task lighting is needed. Typically, lamps would be added on end tables or tall lamps with stands next to recliners or couches were someone may need additional bright lighting for reading.
Although lamps are typically used for task lighting, in this situation you can also use lamps as accessories to add more character and charm to a room. Lamps are the third layer of lighting that will pull the entire room together and should be used in most rooms when you are developing a lighting and home décor plan.
Importance of Color Temperature
Throughout the various topics we discuss here at Lighting Tutor, we always remind everyone of the importance of color temperature when selecting lighting. Before making any final decisions or lighting purchases, it is imperative that you read our article on the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale.
When selecting fixtures or bulbs for a room with high ceilings, you are looking to match the light color with the look and feel of the room. There are also studies that show lighting can influence your mood. You also want all of the lights in the room to be at or near the same kelvin temperature. For example, you can have recessed lights at 3500k and lamps at 3000k. However, you would not want to have one at 5000k and the other at 3000k. The differential between the two will create a lighting conflict in the room.
The color temperature is not something that will influence which light fixtures you select unless those fixtures come with bulbs included. Read our article on selecting the right light bulb for every room if you need some guidance.
Track Lighting for High Ceilings
Track lighting is something that was very popular a few decades ago. At one point, it was used as the primary lighting in a room which was not a very good way to light a room effectively. However, track lighting does have its place in certain situations.
When it comes to lighting a room with high ceilings, you can use track lighting to add focus to art, a piano, or some area of the room that requires more lumens.
It is important to note that track lighting should only be used as a complement to the ambient light created by the recessed lighting in the room. It should never be used to replace recessed lighting in a room with high ceilings.
Use Dimmers Effectively
Dimmers are a critical part of creating the right light and ambiance in a room. In fact, most light switches in the home should be dimmer switches at this point.
Dimmers are also a great way to create a particular mood in the room and increase or decrease the lumens depending upon your need. For example, you may want to dim down the recessed lighting while watching a movie at night.
Meanwhile, you cannot just go to the local home improvement store and buy any dimmer. You need a dimmer that is compatible with your LED lights. Read our article on choosing the right dimmer to learn more. If you do not match the dimmer to the lights correctly, your LED Lights will begin to flicker or buzz.
Summary – Lighting for High Ceilings
Most new homes today are being built with higher ceilings. With this in mind, take time to consider our three-step lighting plan for high ceilings. During the pre-construction planning phase, you will need to decide on the recessed lighting, pendants and chandeliers. Decisions on lamps can wait until you move in.
If you are in an existing home with high ceilings and want to make some changes, then develop your plan based upon the access you have to the electrical wires behind the ceiling and walls.