Lighting is the finishing touch to a room’s design. It is the element that changes the mood of the room and gives life to the space. There are many options for home lighting, and it can be intimidating to think about making the right decisions for each room. The American Lighting Association (ALA) can help with a listing of local ALA-member lighting showrooms with trained experts to help with design inspiration, lessons on the latest technology and selecting the perfect lighting for your space.
Before visiting a lighting showroom, be prepared with basic information about your space. Some of the most important questions the showroom sales staff will ask are questions about size. Take as many measurements as possible. A little preparation will ensure that you select the perfect fixture for your space.
ALA offers the following measures to take before leaving home.
Ceiling height: When shopping for a hanging light for a high ceiling, make a note of the room’s ceiling height and the length and width of the room. If a fixture is already hanging in the space, give an estimation of its size. Bring pictures of the space, making sure that the picture gives some perspective on the size of the room.
Fixture Size: Keep in mind that the new fixture needs to fit appropriately in the space. A grand chandelier, for example, will not fit in a foyer with an 8- or 9-foot ceiling height. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, consider a flush mounted fixture to achieve the clearance requirements for the room.
Depending on the room or placement of the fixture, the hanging length or height of a fixture is equally as important as the size. As a rule, keep 7 feet of clearance from the floor up to the bottom of the fixture in a space like a foyer, living room or bedroom where people typically walk underneath the fixture. In an open foyer or hallway, hang chandeliers or pendants with the bottom at least 6 inches higher than the door.
Bathrooms are another room where ceiling height measurements are extremely important. Hanging chandeliers and pendants over a bathtub adds a touch of elegance. Measure the height from ceiling to floor and measure the space between the top of the tub and the bottom of the fixture. At least 8 feet of clearance is required. If the bathroom is small and cannot accommodate this rule, consider using a smaller fixture. Or, do not hang the fixture directly over the tub; instead, install it at least 3 feet away from the tub.
Other measurements to take to the lighting showroom include measurements for fixtures that will hang over a dining room table or kitchen island. Measure the table length and width. The length of an appropriately sized fixture will be at least one foot shorter than the length of the table. Also bring basic information about the size and shape of the table. It is a good idea to bring a picture of the table in the space as a good reference for the showroom salesperson.
Today’s larger kitchen islands can typically accommodate a series of small pendants or a grouping of large pendants. Start by measuring the length and width of the island and take note of the shape (square, rectangle, peninsula, etc.). Measurements are very important because for smaller pendants equal space needs to be accounted for around each pendant. For larger pendants, hang even numbers (two versus three pendants, for example) and plan for each to be about one third the width of the table or island below.
For both dining tables and islands, measure the height from the floor to where the bottom of the fixture should be. A good rule of thumb is to hang mini or medium-sized pendants 66-72 inches from the floor to the bottom of each fixture.
Lighting showrooms are a great source for components and other lighting accessories. When purchasing bulbs, shades or replacement glass for fixtures, there are a few pieces of information the showroom staff needs in order to help most effectively.
Most showrooms carry a wide variety of bulbs. Buying bulbs at a showroom gives benefits well beyond simply replacing a bulb. Showrooms have invested in knowledgeable sales staff who truly care about educating their customers on light sources.
When seeking a new shade for a table, floor lamp, chandelier or sconce, bring the measurements of the lighting fixture as well as the measurement of the current shade. If possible, bring a photo of your fixture and shade too. Or, even better, bring in the shade you want to replace. The same goes for replacement glass, and if you know the manufacturer and part number, provide that information too.
Above all, expect an enjoyable experience at a dedicated lighting showroom. The experts at ALA-member showrooms are the best resource to help with all lighting decisions. To learn more, stop by your local ALA-Member Showroom or go online to ALALighting.com.
The American Lighting Association is a trade association representing over 3,500 members in the residential lighting, ceiling fan and controls industries in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Its member companies include manufacturers, manufacturers’ representatives, retail lighting showrooms and lighting designers that have the expertise to educate and serve their customers.