GE Lighting Tip Sheet 3

Lighting Room by Room
Notes from GE Lighting Specialist Kathy Presciano 

When developing a lighting plan, look at the whole space. Consider how the room is or will be used and what tasks will be taking place in it (i.e., cooking, laundering, grooming, etc.). Consider dimensions, décor, furniture placement and existing fixtures, as well as windows and skylights that will provide natural light during the day.

Here are some basic things GE Lighting Specialist Kathy Presciano hopes you'll consider when decorating your kitchen, dining room, bedroom and bathroom with light.


Both a workplace and a room for casual entertaining, the kitchen must change its mood to suit the moment. A well-designed plan provides ideal lighting for every situation.

Start by imagining all the activities that will take place here — dining on the island, food preparation on the counter, reading the morning newspaper — and consider layering light in such a way that will help you be most productive and comfortable in this space.

General lighting: Even light distribution and flexibility are essential in the kitchen. Consider recessed fixtures spaced evenly throughout the kitchen with additional lighting positioned above islands, working countertops, sinks and ranges.

Task lighting
• Above the island
: You likely will want lights directly above the island. In addition to the downlights throughout the kitchen, consider some nice hanging pendants with halogen lamps.

Under-cabinet lighting: Luminaires are commonly mounted under cabinets and positioned above the counter. Mount fixtures on the leading edge on the underside of the wall cabinets to light the front edge of the kitchen work surface.

Above the sink: It's best to have fixtures centrally located above the sink.

Dining Room

In today's multi-purpose dining areas, lighting needs to be suitable not only for dining but also for many other family activities — like bill paying and homework. The right fixture isn't always a chandelier. Consider layering light for enhanced flexibility in the space.

Above the table: Since most activity in this space centers around the table, be sure you have plenty of light pouring down. Try a chandelier with dimmable fixtures surrounded by two recessed fixtures for added brightness. The downlights will provide excellent light for the people, and the chandelier will act as the apparent light source. You should also be sure to incorporate other layers of lighting within the room, as downlights used alone will cast shadows on the faces of those sitting at the table.

The chandelier: The minimum diameter of the chandelier for most dining rooms is 20 inches and should be no greater than the length of the table minus 12 inches. Another tip: measure the width of the room in feet, double that figure, and you will get the diameter of your ideal chandelier in inches. For example, a 12-foot-wide room should have a chandelier no wider than 24 inches in diameter.

Other light: Like any other room, consider using natural light, and also try accent lights to highlight artwork, china cabinets, architecture and more.


Not just for sleeping, this space needs flexible lighting that can change from functional to romantic to suit the need and mood of the moment.

Bedside lights: Bedside lamps are key — for both nighttime reading and for those evenings you need to find your way out of bed in the dark. You may opt for lamps located on a bedside table, or, if you prefer clutter-free nightstands, you may prefer ceiling-mounted hanging fixtures, which can also provide close-up reading light (for suspended lights, consider mounting the switch within arm's length from the bed). Another great option is to mount swing-arm lamps on the wall, enabling you to focus that reading light right where you want it.

Overhead and general lights: Recessed downlights will supplement the bedside lamps. Also consider a nice big window with blinds, which can easily be closed for light control and privacy.

Decorative and accent lights: You may even consider dimmable lights — perhaps in the form of a wall-mounted sconce. This is great for mood-setting.


One of the most obvious — and most important considerations — for bathroom lighting is shadow-free "grooming" light. That said, the most important lighting is always near the mirror.

Grooming light: Grooming light requires shadowless light from above and from both sides of the mirror or counter. Bright light sources with translucent or plastic glass diffusers will provide good illumination. Be sure to never aim the light directly at the mirror or the result will be unpleasant glare.

Bathrooms with large mirrors: If the mirror is 36 inches wide or greater, use a ceiling fixture at least 24 inches wide or shielded wall fixtures mounted above the mirror. You may also opt to use a fluorescent tube light or four to six energy-efficient bulbs down each side of the mirror.

For a glamorous effect: Try using rows of exposed globe lights along the tops and sides of the mirror.

Bathrooms with small mirrors: Select three matching fixtures. Use a ceiling fixture above the front edge of the countertop or sink and hang two light sources—preferably pendants—on each side of the mirror about 60 inches high and 30 inches apart.

Bathrooms with high ceilings: Track lights are a great option for accenting tub and shower areas.

Large bathrooms: In bathrooms 100 square feet or larger, it's necessary to have both overhead and mirror lights. Smaller bathrooms are often fine with mirror lighting alone.

Other tips: Lights around the mirror should always be directed at the person, not the mirror, and the reflectance value of the surfaces surrounding the mirror should be 50 percent or higher.

Safety First: Safety should be the top consideration. Lighting fixtures should be positioned so they will not come in direct contact with water or wet hands. Some fixtures are specifically designed to operate in high-moisture environments and should be used when possible.