Most modern homes are pre-wired for a ceiling light fixture in the center of each room. What type of ceiling lights are best? Glass dome lights have become a scourge, with builders and DIY renovators sticking them everywhere. With all of the unique and creative ceiling light designs available today, there's no reason to use a generic dome light. The variety of styles and finishes available is amazing. From low-key farmhouse designs to sparkling modern glam, our guide will help you find the perfect ceiling light to complement your decor.
How Low Should A Ceiling Light Hang?
Interior designers have plenty of formulas for calculating lighting sizes with various ceiling heights. But you only need to remember one number when shopping for ceiling fixtures, and that number is SEVEN. If people will be walking under a ceiling light, the bottom of it can't hang lower than seven feet (or 84 inches) above the floor.
Measure your ceiling height, subtract 84 inches, and that's the maximum height for your new light fixture.
How Bright Should Ceiling Lights Be?
Interior designers agree that you should have more than one lighting source in a room. Combine different types of lighting to create ambiance, and make sure task areas are well-lit.
There are three types of lighting: task, ambient and accent lighting. Ceiling lights are used for ambient or general lighting, so they should be quite bright when lit. In areas like hallways and closets, they're usually the only light source. In bedrooms and living areas, ceiling lights work together with lamps, which provide task lighting and additional ambient light. Dimmer switches are a smart addition that instantly turns ceiling fixtures into soft accent lighting.
Choose a ceiling fixture that's bright enough for your room by using a lighting standard called lumens. First, determine the square footage of your room (simply multiply length by width). You'll also need to know that:
- Dining rooms and kitchens need 30-40 lumens per square foot.
- Living areas, bedrooms, and hallways need 20 lumens per square foot.
Multiply the required lumens by the square footage of your room. For a 10 ft. x 12 ft. bedroom, you'll want 2,400 lumens of light. Light bulbs have different brightness levels, so check the packaging to determine lumens. However, this is a helpful guide:
- 450 lumens = 40 Watts
- 800 lumens = 60 Watts
- 1100 lumens = 75 Watts
For the 10 x 12 bedroom, you need a ceiling fixture with either four 60W bulbs or six 40W bulbs. For an LED ceiling fixture, choose one that puts out 2,400 lumens.
What Are Flush Mount Ceiling Lights?
Installed directly against the ceiling without a gap, flush mount lights are perfect for low-ceiling rooms.
They're easy to install using existing wiring. A large-diameter, flush-mount fixture will cover up marks on the ceiling from older, small light fixtures. Since they fit tightly to the ceiling surface, these light fixtures have other advantages too:
- Easy to maintain, since they don't collect dust or insects easily.
- Low-profile light fixtures fit 7-8 foot ceilings.
- Install where people must walk beneath the fixture - hallways, closets, bedrooms, kitchens.
- Safer for high-traffic areas and kids' rooms.
- Large selection of practical, affordable designs.
- Trendy finishes like black, brass and gold to match lighting throughout the home.
Decorative flush-mount styles abound - you'll find elegant, gold-trimmed drum shades:
Simple, affordable lantern styles are perfect for closets or laundry rooms.
What Are Semi-Flush Mount Ceiling Lights?
Semi-flush ceiling fixtures are installed with a ceiling canopy and a short stem, so the fixture is suspended from the ceiling. With a gap between the light fixture and the led flush mount ceiling fixture, most styles will shine light upwards as well as down. Most semi-flush ceiling lights provide more ambient light.
While semi-flush ceiling fixtures install quickly on existing wiring, the round canopy only covers 4-6' of the ceiling. If you're replacing old lighting, your ceiling may need a coat of paint. Other features of semi-flush fixtures include:
- Longer hanging length for 8-12 foot ceilings.
- Ideal for entries, foyers, bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, closets, kitchens.
- May be used with lower ceilings over a dining table or bed.
- Brighter illumination when light reflects off a white ceiling.
- Patterns of light on the ceiling help create ambiance.
- Easy access for replacing light bulbs.
- Some styles may need frequent dusting.
- Semi-flush designs offer a large variety of design styles.
With their extra length, these ceiling lights offer a wider range of decorative detail. You'll find quartz crystals with gold:
Modern, Close-to-Ceiling Lights With LEDs
Energy-efficient LEDs are the latest in contemporary lighting. Integrated LED light fixtures are maintenance-free; built-in bulbs last up to fifteen years. This innovative technology allows designers to create minimalist, modern lighting.
Slim profiles are perfect for lower ceilings, while bright LED bulbs provide plenty of illumination. Pair your integrated LED light fixture with a compatible dimmer switch for ambient lighting.
How To Mix and Match Ceiling Lights
We love open-concept houses, but seeing several rooms at once creates a design challenge. Ceiling lights should coordinate with your kitchen pendants, dining room chandelier, and living room lighting. Even in a traditional home, different rooms need a cohesive design plan. Follow our professional designers' tips to pull your lighting scheme together:
- Take cues from your furnishings and architecture - do you like minimalist, cozy cottage, formal, modern farmhouse, or modern glam?
- Measure your ceiling height so you know what will fit.
- Ceiling fixtures don't need to match from one room to another - but should be similar in scale, style and color.
- Don't mix extremely ornate fixtures with very simple styles.
- Choose dark finishes like black or bronze if your home has dark door hardware
- Choose chrome, brushed steel or black with silver of your home has chrome door hardware.
- Brass, gold and black work beautifully with brass hardware.
- Repeat decorative details like crystal drops, drum shades, or candles for continuity between spaces.
Ceiling Light Shopping Tips
Have a list of your rooms handy, with ceiling height measurements. Use our search feature to sort ceiling fixtures by Size, Color, Lifestyle and Room. For vaulted or cathedral ceilings, look for recessed lighting, pendant lights, or chandeliers lights.