I work on a contract basis for an electrical engineer/home automation company so when it comes to lighting a house, my bias is a bit to the extreme. I truly believe that well designed lighting can make or break a house. Planning from the early stages of design is key. Once the rooms are laid out, start thinking about how you want each space to get lit. Ambient lighting, task lighting, mood lighting, it all makes a huge difference. I picked out the majority of my light fixtures early on because I wanted every piece to be set in the budget. I am not going to compromise on the lighting design in our new house.
My process: I drew my wish electrical plan and my must electrical plan. I already know that my double height living room space will have fixtures that retail at almost $1,500.00 a pop x 2. They may not be hanging on move-in day, but there are J-boxes in place for when we do buy those damn lights. And we will… Eventually. I also accounted for the exact number of can lights for ambient lighting, 35 to be exact. There are certain lights that are a definite must, like the 6 well lights (3 for the outdoor walkway leading to the front door and 3 for the interior foyer). These up-lights will be put in from day one. We will not be saw-cutting through concrete and laying conduit later. Therefore, they will go in when we pour foundations.
It’s all about pre-planning. Don’t wait to tackle lighting as an after thought or you will end up with lighting that looks like a spec home. Know where your furniture will live, know how you intend each space to be used. Dream about the feeling you want to convey when you enter each room. Start looking for deals on your favorite fixtures and buy them on sale. It’s better to store the box and have it ready to go (having the option to return later of it doesn’t work out) than to pay full price on a piece or God forbid, figure out at crunch time that it’s out of production. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to lighting fixtures and I obsessively add to that board whenever I see a beauty.
The Kartell Ghost Lamp – Get in my house now!
The Mooii Random light – I want 2 pronto!
Know your style, shop smart and remember that there are tons of ingenius and innovative ways to beautifully light your home. LED strips that can change colors or hanging pendant lights in bathrooms… The possibilities are endless but you have to plan early!
So go through your plans and figure out where all those sconces should go. Add a diminutive cover on the J-box if you can’t afford the fixture of your dreams right now. It’s a whole lot easier than busting up your walls and pulling conduit later. After-the-fact lighting is always more expensive. Trust me on this one.