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Lighting Guide

Guidelines to choosing the proper light for your space.

Lighting is not only a practical and beautiful element of design to consider, but it can also impact your mood, appetite and sleep. The West of Main team is here to help you choose that perfect light that will help optimize a room’s function without sacrificing design and aesthetic. With this comprehensive lighting guide you’ll have all the information you need to choose the perfect light for every room.

Before we get started, below are some factors to consider in preparation of searching for lighting:

Room Size and Space

Measure out your space, furnishings, ceiling height and room shape. Your lighting, whether a lamp or a chandelier, should make sense in your space.

Colour, Patterns & Art

We encourage you to be creative and bold in your designs. That said, your lighting should work within the parameters of the planned or existing decorative elements in your space.

Traffic Patterns & Electrical Source

Lighting controls, distribution, switches and electrical sockets will dictate where you lighting will be and how it will function. Keep this in mind when choosing light bulbs.

Room Function

Think about how you live or use this space. A mood and ambiance of a room can instantly change depending on its lighting. How we act within a space is actually proven to be influenced by lighting.

Light Layers

One of the first considerations designers make when choosing lighting is the light layer.There are three lighting layers that can help in determining what style of light fixture is appropriate for each room.

General or Ambient Lighting

Simply put, this is a general form of lighting used to make an interior space visible. Ambient lighting aims to be a felt like a natural or existing source of light.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is used to assist you in completing a function. It is the more practical light layer that needs to be illuminating and directed towards the area of work.

Accent or Decorative Lighting

When it comes to accent lighting, it is meant to be an integral part of the decor of the room. These light fixtures can be bold and beautiful and act as a piece of art.

Sizing

Determining size and shape is the starting point to choosing a light. If a light is too big or small, it just looks like it was added as an afterthought. There is an easy formula for determining how big one of these lights should be. It’s all about finding the right diameter. If the fixture will be lighting the whole room, measure the length and width of the room and then add those two numbers together. Convert that sum from feet to inches to find the ideal diameter for your light source.

For example, if the room was 10 ft. x 12 ft., 10 + 22 = 22, so your fixture should be 22 inches in diameter. However, if you’re centering the fixture over a piece of furniture, you’ll want to measure the length and width of that specific item instead of the room as a whole.

Types of Fixtures

Determining the type of fixture of lighting depends on where it will be placed. To start your search off right, we've listed the most common types of fixtures and their light layer. How the space will be used, what kind of traffic it will receive, and how much warmth you want for the space are the main considerations.

Ceiling Lighting

Chandelier

Chandeliers are a decorative hanging light fixture that typically includes arms for multiple bulbs. They are a statement light fixture and can offer a range of light.

Type: Ambient -Uplight, Task - Downlight

Best for: Bedroom, Dining Room, Living Room, Foyer, Outdoors

Considerations: Hang at least 28-32 inches above any piece of furniture or enough clearance to walk under. If hanging above a dining table, it should not block anyone’s view across the table. If hanging in a entrance above a stairway, it must be at least 9ft from the floor, but remember to consider your ceiling height.

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Surface & Flush Mount Lights

Flush mounts sits against the ceiling and offer downward projecting lighting.

Type: Ambient

Best for: Any room, great for lower ceilings

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Pendant

A pendant light is a lone light fixture suspended by a cord, chain or rod. Alone or hung in multiples, they are ideal for an array of rooms.

Type: Ambient - Uplight ; Task - Downlight

Best for: Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom, Foyer, Hallway, Living Room

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Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are a practical source of air and light.Suspended from the ceiling, this rotating blade can add to the ambiance of a room.

Type: Ambient

Best for: Bedroom, Living Room

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Sconce

A sconce, also known as a wall light, is technically a small scale lamp affixed to a wall.

Type: Ambient, Task, Accent

Best for: Bathroom, Bedroom, Living Room, Hallway, Foyer, Office, Dining Room

Considerations: Mount approximately 66 inches from the floor.

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Vanity

A Vanity light is a long light fixture or lighting bar mounted above a bathroom mirror. They are a particular subset wall lights.

Type: Ambient, Task

Best for: Bathroom

Considerations: Mount 75-80 inches from the floor above the mirror.

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Floor & Table Lighting

Floor and table lamps allow you to spark interest and spotlight pieces in your space. These forms of light typically serve as secondary light sources or to augment ambient lighting. Accent and decorative floor and table lighting help illuminate areas where ambient lighting can’t reach.

Lamps are the most versatile of all lighting with a plethora of sizes, shapes, colours, textures, and designs. They are easy to move around and can provide a variety of light layers.

Type: Ambient, Task, Accent

Best for: Any room

Reading Lamp: When choosing a reading lamp,make sure the bottom of the shade is at eye level when seated. You also want the shade to be ½ to ¾ the height of the base. Make sure the bulb and socket are completely covered by the shade.

Console Lamp: Measure the length and depth of your table top. The widest part of your lampshade needs to fall at least 1” within the narrowest dimension of the table. For example, if your table is 22” round then find a table lamp that has a shade of 20”-21” wide or smaller.

Nightstand Lamp: The height should be between 42”-64” from the floor to the top of the finial. For standard 8-foot ceilings, a good height is usually between 21”-33”. Make sure you can reach the lightswitch while laying down in bed.

Office Lamp: When choosing an office lamp, choose one that has a lampshade with a diameter 2” less than the length of the base.

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Design

Floor and table lighting allow you to spark interest and spotlight pieces in your space. These forms of light typically serve as secondary light sources or to augment ambient lighting. Accent and decorative floor and table lighting help illuminate areas where ambient lighting can’t reach.

Colour

You can create a complete different mood or ambiance in a room simply by changing the colour of a shade. If you want more light to shine through, choose a lighter colour like a cream or white shade and the reverse for less light and a moodier aesthetic.

Material

Shades can come in all kinds of materials ranging from linen and cotton to brass and iron. The more opaque your shade is, the more contained and directional your light will be. A more transparent material light linen or cotton will allow more light to flood though.

Shape

The diameter of the lampshade should be at least 2" less than the length of its body. The narrower the base of the shade, the less will be illuminated. Shape will also determine where the light will go - this goes hand and hand with the material of the shade.

Light Bulbs

Don’t forget to consider the bulbs! Color temperature, lumens and wattage all play a factor in your room’s quality of light. Each light-emitting product we use has a variety of characteristics that determine the appropriate application.

LED

Energy Use: Low

Colour Rendering Index: 70+

Life(Hours): 50,000

Application: Accent, Task

CFL

Energy Use: Medium

Colour Rendering Index: 80

Life(Hours): 10,000

Application: Ambient, Task

Linear Fluorescent

Energy Use: Medium

Colour Rendering Index: 80

Life(Hours): 20,000

Application: Ambient, Task

Standard Incandescent

Energy Use: High

Colour Rendering Index: 100

Life(Hours): 1,000

Application: Accent, Task, Decorative

Halogen Incandescent

Energy Use: High

Colour Rendering Index: 100

Life(Hours): 1,000

Application: Accent, Task

Temperature

Light tends to fall into three different categories: warm, neutral and cool. Each rooms’ lighting temperature deserves consideration to optimize its ambiance and overall functionality.

Warm Light

Adds a warm, inviting feeling to a room.

Kelvin Scale: 2700-3400 K

Bulbs: Warm White LED, 100W Incandescent, 100W Halogen

Rooms: Bedrooms, Living Rooms, Home Office

Fixtures: Lamps, Ceiling Fixtures, Wall Lights

Neutral Light

Whiter light is best for areas that require energy and focus.

Kelvin Scale: 4000-4800K

Bulbs: Natural White LED

Rooms: Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage, Home Gym

Fixtures: Lamps, Pendants, Ceiling Lights, Outdoor

Cool Light

Bright, blue-white light is great for reading, projects, and other hobbies.

Kelvin Scale: 5000-7500K

Bulbs: Cool White LED

Rooms: Bathroom, Kitchen

Fixtures: Vanity, Pendants, Ceiling Lights

Style

Lighting can completely change the design style of your room. As such, many designers will lend way to other design elements and finish with lighting to really tie a room together. It is important to understand the design style your trying to achieve and build from there.

Classic & Traditional

Classic lighting fixtures are ageless and feature traditional elegant silhouettes of balance and soft curves. They are typically made from glass, crystal, linen, and wood and have luxurious finishes. These elegant and ornamental light fixtures are often used in a foyer, over a kitchen table or in a living room with high ceilings.

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Contemporary & Transitional

These lighting designs fall between traditional and modern styles. Both feature classic yet updated designs that are simple yet sophisticated. Typically boasting a new and creative silhouette, they can be eye-catching and sophisticated and work well with today’s trends.

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Coastal & Bohemian

Coastal and bohemian style lighting can be grouped together since their construction and design surrounds organic and natural materials. These lights are typically earth-toned and will feature fibres of jute, rattan, coco beads or other natural materials resulting in a calming appearance.They can also be the perfect accent in a classic or modern style home to give off that feeling of comfort and warmth.

Modern

Modern lighting is sleek and features very clean lines, geometric patterns, circles, and ovals. Constructed with smooth surfaces, they have very little ,if any, decorative detailing. The strong but simple lines create the perfect focal point in a modern home and are highly functional but have a simple timeless style.

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