Lighting your home properly is so important. Without good lighting, simple tasks like reading or cooking can be made more difficult. And the wrong finish on your light fixture can leave you cursing when it comes time to clean them. So how do you know which fixture or bulb to choose? What the heck are lumens and kelvin and why are they important?
Here are some things to take into consideration.
When adding fixtures to any room, you want to consider:
- The tasks you will be doing there. In the kitchen, you want the countertops and stove to be well lit so that you can see what you are cooking. In the living room you might want a reading light by your favorite chair.
- The furniture that will be added. Your dining room light should be centered above your dining table, and in your primary bedroom you might want pendant lights or wall sconces added above your nightstands.
- And most importantly in our book, how the heck are you going to clean it or change the bulbs? A light at the highest ceiling point in a stairwell is not your friend. You don’t want to mess around with a ladder on a staircase, trust us on this one. Instead use wall sconces or place the light above a landing where a ladder can be safely used.
When it comes to light fixtures, dust is enemy #1. Our general rule of thumb is that shiny or dark finishes show more dust than brushed or light ones. Sure, black light fixtures are beautiful, but plan to invest in some Swiffer® stock. It’s important to think of where the dust will settle on a light fixture, and how difficult it could be to remove. Glass “bowls” on the light that face up will become a dust catcher. Intricate chandeliers are stunning but if you need to polish each piece of crystal individually, it’s a hard pass for us.
The amount of light put out by a bulb is measured in lumens. The higher the number, the brighter the bulb. There isn’t one answer for how many lumens a bulb should have, as it depends greatly on how many lights there are in the room, and the mood that you want to set there. You may want it to be bright and energetic, or dim and moody. Our preference is to have the room brightly lit, with the option to dim.
Light Temperature (Kelvin)
The coolness or warmth of a bulb is measured in kelvin. A lower kelvin is a warmer, more yellow light, while a higher kelvin is a cooler, more blue light. In our opinion this is often overlooked and it can make or break a room. A cool bulb can make a house feel like a sterile grow-op, while a warm light makes it feel more cozy and homey. Our pick would be a bulb around 3,000K or Warm White.
Tip: We have a handy chart that explains all this (and SO much more) in our Home Renovation Guide.