How to Design Recessed Lighting for a Living Room

Written by judi light hopson
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How to Design Recessed Lighting for a Living Room
Recessed lighting comes in many unit styles. (light bulb image by Zbigniew Nowak from

It's relatively simple to install recessed lighting in a living room, if you can crawl into attic above the room. Housing for recessed lights can be installed between rafters and connected to wiring that runs directly to the breaker box. Figuring out how large to make the lights and how many you will need are the basic requirements once you figure out the pattern for placing the lights correctly.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Electrical wiring
  • Electrician/expert
  • Home design books
  • Home decorating magazines
  • Recessed lighting fixtures
  • Energy efficient bulbs

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  1. 1

    Give the living area good ambience by installing lights spaced approximately every 48 inches around the perimeter of the ceiling. Place lights at least 18 inches away from the walls. Use recessed lights that swivel in their housing, if you want the recessed lights to double as track lighting in some form. Focus one or two lights on a special piece of artwork at a corner, for example. Review home design books and magazines to get ideas.

  2. 2

    Inspect the attic before you hire an electrician to help you run wiring. Be sure you can space the lights evenly around the room, since rafter construction may interfere in some manner. Avoid a double beam, for example. Don't consider changing attic construction to accommodate lights. Move the lights a few inches instead to fit existing beams.

  3. 3

    Use recessed lighting that is appropriate for a main living area. Avoid using any hardware or housing that will stand out too much. Buy lights that will be unobtrusive in terms of guests actually noticing them. Install the lights so that the beams shine on coffee table areas for reading or media equipment. Ask an electrician to help you install a wall switch at both ends of the living room to turn lights off and on, if your room is large.

  4. 4

    Match the housing of the recessed lights to other metal colouring in the room. Use gold rimmed lights or bronze if your lamps and furniture call for this type of colouring. Use silver rimmed lights if your other light fixtures, lamps and furniture blend well with silver. Buy light housing units that will look good over time. Don't get tempted to buy the cheapest lights, since they will typically last for many years. Invest in lights that will look upscale to buyers if you should ever sell your home.

  5. 5

    Ask questions at a retail store concerning recessed lighting that utilises energy efficient bulbs. Avoid spending lots of money by buying energy efficient bulbs, since recessed lights will probably get more use than typical fixtures. Install bulbs that will last several years, too, since it's an involved process to change out bulbs on the ceiling.

Tips and warnings

  • Place recessed lights in an even pattern that gives the room a formal look. Installing too many recessed lights in a certain space can make the room seem out of harmony. Installing the lights in a random pattern may call unwanted attention to the lights themselves.

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