Low ceiling lighting ideas

Written by anne hirsh
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Low ceiling lighting ideas
Use wall sconces to make ceilings appear higher. (light bulb/lamp. lamp in a store image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

Low ceilings can make a room seem small, and large light fixtures that hang down into the living space can be distracting or even dangerous. Understanding how light works in the room will help you choose the best lighting types for your low ceiling, whether it is in a basement, attic or other area of your home.

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Flush Mount Fixtures

Flush mount fixtures are ideal for most low-ceiling rooms. These fixtures attach directly to the ceiling's surface rather than hanging below it. While recessed lighting may seem like an intuitive answer because it sits above the surface of the ceiling, you will need more recessed lighting units in a low-ceiling room than in a room with standard ceilings. This is because the light spreads out in an inverted-cone shape from the recessed fixture, and the shorter distance between the ceiling and floor cuts off the bottom of that cone, where the spread is widest. Flush mount fixtures allow the light to spread out to all sides as well as down, as long as the fixture's covering leaves the sides open or translucent.

Up Lighting

Low ceilings can be quite useful if you use them to reflect light around the room. The light doesn't have to travel as far as it bounces around the room, so it loses less intensity than it would in a room with standard ceilings. Paint your ceiling and walls a light colour to maximise the bounced light, then use floor lamps that use bright halogen tube bulbs that aim up toward the ceiling. Wall sconces that aim upward from high on the walls are also helpful in low-ceiling areas, but are not generally sufficient as the primary light source. Add desk and table lamps with adjustable heads, pointed toward the walls, so the light bounces upward to fill in dark spaces within the room.

Minimise Profiles

Choose light fixtures, whether wall sconces or flush mount ceiling fixtures, that are low-profile. This means that they are thin and don't stick out into the room as much as other fixtures. For ceiling lights, look for units that use two or more bulbs in bases that hang sideways, instead of downward. Choose sconces that fit snugly against the walls. Using compact fluorescent bulbs will help you reduce the amount of heat your lights generate, making it safer to use brighter bulbs in these fixtures that have reduced air flow around the bulbs.

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