Design Standards: Lighting- Height, Scale & Quantity

A big part of working with my design clients is education. Explaining various paint finishes and their proper applications or breaking down the difference between off-the-shelf, retail product and quality, to-the-trade goods is part of the job. At the completion of a project, I want my clients to not only love their space from an aesthetic and function standpoint, but also feel that they learned new things throughout our collaboration.

There are certain standards and guidelines that designers follow when designing a space, ie: how high to hang a light fixture, selecting the proper-sized rug for a space and making sure the specified art is well-balanced in a space. These are just a few examples; there are many more, of course.

Our blog is one that aims to really educate our readers and give you guys the Inside Scoop on the design world. I've compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked questions by clients along with the most common errors people make with selecting an item. I'll take you through a series highlighting readily used design standards, starting with LIGHTING!

If you have a decent-size kitchen island, about seven or eight feet, consider adding oversized pendant lights. Most people lean towards two, sometimes three, very small pendants. This is definitely the case for lower-end builder spec homes. Add some drama to the No. 1 gathering spot in the home. These pendants are an oversized rattan. See similar product selections below.

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For larger spaces like the dining room, living room, bonus room and large bedrooms add up the length and width of the space, round up to the nearest square foot. For example, the room is 13'8" L x 10'W= 23' 8". Round up to 24" for the proper diameter of your chandelier. It's always better to aim for slightly larger rather than too small. If the light fixture you love is 25 or 26 inches, get it. A larger scale light adds drama and impact!

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The same principle applies to a dining room: add up length + width of the room to find the proper diameter for a fixture. Even if you plan to have two or three light fixtures as show above, let the diameter guide you into how large each pendant should be.

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Bathroom vanities can be a little tricky, especially if you are a tall person, say 6'2" and taller. The general rule of thumb for the majority of people is to hang the sconce 5'6" from the floor to the center of the light fixtures backplate. This also depends on how long the fixture is itself. For the one shown above I would have this 6' off the floor because it's so long.

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The front entryway is a nice place to add a unique light fixture. Yau want this space to be well-illuminated. You may have mail or groceries in hand. Pick a light fixture that is well-proportioned for the space. If your foyer is small, don't buy an oversized light. It will have too great of a light output and probably not clear the door swing.

I can't tell you how many clients say, "Yeah, we purchased one light but had to return it because we couldn't open the door." Make sure that from the floor to the bottom of the light is about seven feet at least.

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I hope breaking down these different lighting applications has helped make it easier to understand to properly source and install light fixtures! The next design standard will be fireplaces.

Stay tuned!

Happy Holidays,

Laura Thurman


 I'm Laura Thurman, creator of this blog and owner of Thurman Design Studio LLC. What I love most about interior design is the design process and all the hidden elements that make a space great: color theory, mood boards and textiles.

Inspiration is all around us in various creative fields; interiors, architecture, graphics design & fashion.

The purpose of my blog is to educate my readers by sharing the "inside scoop" on the design world and, in turn, provide helpful insights that will inspire you to elevate and love the spaces you inhabit.                I hope you leave educated and inspired! 

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