Recessed Lighting – Too Much of a Good Thing

September 1st, 2015

Posted In: Blog, Lighting Tips


Recessed Lighting - Too Much of a Good ThingHave you ever walked into one of today’s large, luxurious spec houses and looked up to see ceilings that resemble Swiss cheese? Scores of recessed lights, spread in grids everywhere — the living room, rec room, family room. This is a prime example of bad — and just plain lazy — lighting design. Here’s why:

Recessed downlights create uncomfortable shadows. This is because all the light is coming from above. What’s worse, multiple recessed lights in a small area cast numerous overlapping shadows, which are extremely distracting.

Cheap recessed fixtures create maddening glare. I’ve seen $17 lights used in $3 million homes — often. In these poorly designed fixtures, the bulb is almost even with the ceiling instead of being recessed to a higher point. The result is decidedly unappealing as uncontrolled light spills in every direction.

Recessed downlights are unflattering. Lights coming from directly above are the opposite of the fountain of youth. They create unattractive shadows on faces and can age a person’s appearance by ten years. There’s no upside to this.

Recessed lights make ceilings appear lower. In a room with recessed downlights, all the illumination is aimed at the floor and there’s no light directed at the ceiling. This leaves the ceiling dark and has the effect of making it feel lower. No one wants their ceilings to feel lower.

An expert lighting designer can help you avoid these pitfalls and bring out the beauty in every room. Recessed has its place, but must be used intelligently and in combination with other sources.

Learn about the proper use of recessed lighting in a future blog post.

Photo © Lightolier