Make a Dark Room Look Brighter with the Right Lighting
Partner Post to The Best Light Paint Colours for a Dark Room
Now I am cute, funny and amazingly modest, however, I am NOT a rocket scientist. That being said, I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize the following:
Dark rooms are not fixed with the right paint colour – they are fixed with the right lighting.
That’s right my friends. If you don’t have the right lighting in your dark room there is NO magical paint colour that will save you – unless it’s glow-in-the-dark.
Let there be light!
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty – how much light YOUR room needs…
The Magic Formula
Multiply the width of the room by the length then multiply it by 1.5 – this will give you the watts you need.
w x l x 1.5 = wattage
8w x 10l = 80 sq ft. 80 x 1.5 = dammit, where’s my calculator. Right, 120. So an 8 x 10 room needs 120 watts of light.
Now technically, most small rooms (8 x 10 or smaller) can get away with 120 watts of lighting. However, once you hit the bigger sizes it can be challenging to get enough wattage in 1 light fixture. So what do you do?
Drink wine and cry.
Or read this…
Now before we get started, I know that a lot of us are still using incandescent bulbs (personally, they are my fave), whereas others have moved over to LED’s (men seem to favour these). I’ve done up this simple chart so you can cross-match your info.
Approx. 8 x 10 – 10 x 12
need 180 watts of light
Rooms in this size range need approx. 120-180 watts of light. For this reason, I’m inclined to go ‘the more the merrier’ and I would install a light that holds 3 – 60w bulbs. However, general light fixtures don’t necessarily add ambience and you may still want to add some accent lighting.
And do you have a booby light that is only holding 2 – 60w bulbs? Oh, you are sooo busted. If so, read this…Budget Friendly Lighting Update Ideas
Medium Size Rooms
12 x 12 – 12 x 15
need 275 watts of light
Rooms in this size range need approx. 215-275 watts of light. Unless it’s a dining room or a room that can hold a chandelier (usually 5+ bulbs) you are going to need a central fixture as well as accent lighting to have it ‘well-lit’.
Don’t be afraid to lower your central/general light (as long as the bottom is at least 7′ from the floor). This can make a space feel brighter, yet more intimate.
You will need:
- 1 central light fixture that holds 3 – 60w bulbs
- At least 2 table or accents lights that hold 40-60w each
Read about THE most budget-friendly 180 watt light fixture: Budget Friendly Ideas to Update Your Booby Light
Large Rooms – 190 sq ft +
If you have a larger room with only 1 central light fixture (and don’t plan on hiring an electrician to add pot lights) you’ll need at least 2-3 table/floor/accent lights to make up the difference.
Again, w x l x 1.5 = wattage
For example, a room that is 12 x 18 (216 sq ft) x 1.5 technically needs 324 watts. Now you can get 180 of those via a central light fixture/pot lights, however, you will likely need to supplement with table lamps (60w each) and that will get you closer to the mark.
Plus, table lamps and accent lighting add mood and ambience to a space, so even if you DON’T need the extra wattage, I consider these pieces an essential part of any decorative arsenal no matter WHAT size the room is.
You will need:
- 1 central light fixture that holds a minimum of 3 – 60w bulbs (or pot lighting)
- 2+ table/floor/accent lights that each hold 60-100w (the more the better)
Rooms that are longer than 20′
If you have a room that is LONGER than 20′ you may want to cut it in half and then treat the 2 halves as ‘separate rooms’. This way you can light each half of the room which as a whole, will create a ‘well-lit room’.
They nailed this one! With pot lights, 2 central hanging light fixtures and table lamps, you can see how they split the room into 2 sections which makes the room feel well-rounded and well-lit.
This photo shows how recessed lighting and track lights can define social areas. In between pot lights, track lighting and accent lighting – this room has it covered!
Every room needs a central light (or pot lights)
This is the light that is in charge of the room. It lights the space whether all of the secondary/accent lights are on or not.
If you don’t have a central light fixture (or pot lights), then you will need to supplement with table and floor lamps that supply the wattage your room needs (read below for more on that).
• Central or general lights are usually located in the center of the room
• Instead of a central or general light, many modern homes have recessed or pot lighting, which when done correctly can be as effective as a central light fixture
• Every dark room (unless it’s a closet or bathroom) should have a general light that holds at least 3 – 60w bulbs
Every room should have accent lighting
(well maybe not a small bathroom)
Accent lighting (task lighting) may include table lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces, recessed/pot lights/under cabinet lighting, etc… and in a pinch, accent lighting with the right wattage will do the job when there isn’t a central light fixture.
- Accent lighting is what highlights the features of your home, lets you do specific tasks and creates ambience. Even if your central light is doing the job, accent lighting just adds to the overall appeal of the room
- A lamps shade that is white or off-white will shed a brighter light than a dark or coloured lamp shade
Well, I hope you found this article en-LIGHT-ening (mwah-ha-ha)
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Kylie M Interiors Interior Decorating and Design Ideas Online Decorating, Design and Colour Consulting Services (E-Decor / E-Design) Based in Nanaimo BC Canada and serving the whole darned World!