Category: Interior Design

The World’s First and Only $99 Light Bulb

Would you pay $99 for a light bulb? For a product that so completely redefines a familiar technology, you just might.

Lifx Light Bulbs


Light bulbs didn’t change for decades—arguably for a full century. But then, somewhat all of a sudden, a confluence of scientific, cultural, political and technological factors combined to create a special set of circumstances permitting the advent of this—a $99 light bulb. No, it’s not glazed in gold or encrusted with jewels; the jaw-dropping sticker price owes only to an impressive array of features. And people are really excited about the whole thing. When LIFX, the maker of the bulb, set out to raise $100,000 in funding through Kickstarter in 2013, it wound up generating, in just six days, well over $1 million. A year later, the LIFX bulb had gone on sale at Amazon, and the most tech-savvy homeowners began to experiment with this WiFi-enabled, multi-color, energy-efficient LED.

Even when it’s off, the LIFX looks like no other light bulb you’ve ever seen. There’s no glass orb, but rather a flat-topped disc atop a textured plastic body. But the single most noteworthy thing about LIFX is that you can control the bulb from your smartphone or tablet, modulating not only its brightness, but also its color. At a swipe, you can settle on a standard LED color or pick any of the millions on the spectrum between warm white and cool. What saves the color options from being a mere novelty is that you can temper your selection with a layer of white light, thus creating a tinted hue that flatters your home decor while creating an appealing atmosphere, be it buoyant or serene. LIFX even includes a number of pre-sets allowing you to transform the mood in your house at one touch.

Lifx Light Bulbs - Multicolor


To get started with LIFX, there’s no peripheral hardware to set up; the bulb can be used as soon as you take it out of the box. You simply screw it into the socket and connect it to your home network using the free LIFX app. Whereas many other smart home products on the market excite with their possibilities but intimidate with their complexities, LIFX bulbs are inviting and immediately useful to anyone, tech geeks and Luddites alike. However, if you’ve been closely following the Internet of Things movement, what you may find most interesting are the third-party integrations. For example, LIFX syncs with the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector, and it even has an IFTT channel. That means you can program the lighting to dim after 10pm or to pulse when an email arrives from a certain someone. Any number of configurations are possible. It’s all up to you—if you decide limitless lighting options are worth $99.

Purchase LIFX WiFi Enabled Multicolor Dimmable LED Light Bulbs, $99

Quick Tip: Restore Shine to a Light Fixture with… Denture Tablets?

To bring the brilliance back to your glass lighting fixtures, look no further than the oral hygiene aisle of your local drugstore.

Clean a Light Fixture with Denture Tablets


Time has a way of proving the old adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Case in point: Whether your ceiling lights are flush-mount fixtures or hanging pendants, chances are you’ve neglected to clean them—not because you’re lazy, but simply because those fixtures seldom enter your eyeline. Of course, like anything else in your home, glass lighting fixtures accumulate dust and dirt; left unattended for months or even years, their radiant dazzle slowly dulls to a hazy glow. Fortunately, even if you’ve fallen far behind on housekeeping, you can catch up quite quickly, thanks to an unlikely yet effective secret weapon—denture tablets!

Clean a Light Fixture with Denture Tablets - Fiz


Denture tablets are those fizz-making additives Grandpa plops into a glass of water, along with his dentures, before he goes to bed. Just as the tablets’ effervescence manages to penetrate and sanitize the crevices of dentures, so too does the fizziness lift ancient residue from within the facets and angles of any glass lighting fixture. A box of denture tablets, conveniently available at any pharmacy, costs less than ten bucks, so even if you’re skeptical, we think it’s definitely worth a try.

Fill a bucket with hot water. Make sure the bucket is large enough to accommodate the fixture you are trying to clean. Place the glass fixture into the bucket, then add a handful of denture tablets (about six or eight, depending on the size of the fixture). Let the bucket sit for about 30 minutes.

Remove the fixture and set it aside, then dump out the dirty water from the bucket.

Refill the bucket, this time adding one part bleach for every two parts water. Rinse the fixture off, then place it back in the bucket. Let it sit for another half hour, ventilating the area as necessary. When the time has elapsed, rinse and dry off the fixture before finally putting it back into position.

While the denture tablets pull dust and debris from all the nooks and crannies that would otherwise be hard to reach or inaccessible, the bleach goes the extra mile toward restoring sparkle to the glass.

A word of caution: Make sure that neither pets nor children have access to the bucket when it’s full. Denture tablets can be toxic if ingested, and of course the harmful effects of bleach are well known.

Danish Modern Furniture Stars in a New Drama from BoConcept

In a brand-new cinematic short film, BoConcept modern furniture plays a leading role opposite the international television and movie star Mads Mikkelsen.

Mads Mikkelsen


We’re stunned by the latest marketing campaign let loose by BoConcept. In the past, we’ve always appreciated BoConcept in its role as a leading purveyor of Danish modern furniture. Today, we’re seeing the company’s wares in a scintillating new role—as the backdrop for a sophisticated short film known as “The Call.” Here, BoConcept sofas, tables, and chairs play opposite Mads Mikkelsen, an international star best known in the United States for the TV series Hannibal. 

The Call Living Room Furniture

Photo: BoConcept Furniture

Shot over a six-day period on location in Valencia, Spain—inside the real-life home of a BoConcept designer—the set features pieces carefully chosen for their ability to highlight and enhance the storyline. “You can take our concept in many different directions,” says Jette Christensen, Visual Manager for BoConcept, “but in this case, we wanted to achieve a mature, luxurious ambience to complement Mikkelsen’s character.” Sumptuous materials, glossy surfaces, and a moody mix of colors all combine as the ideal stage for a thrilling scene that features a pair of nice-to-look-at actors doing what they do best. Watch “The Call” right now, below!

This content has been brought to you by BoConcept. Its facts and opinions are those of

The Beginner’s Guide to Working with Wallpaper

Wallpapering isn't for the faint of heart, but with careful project planning, you can set yourself up for success—and an eye-catching reward.

DIY Wallpaper


Gone are the days of your grandmother’s chintzy wallpaper. Today, a wide range of compelling designs are available, and due to advances in manufacturing, it’s easier than ever to hang wallpaper. Still, if you’ve never worked with the stuff before, the prospect can seem daunting. That said, anyone can learn the ways of wallpaper. If you’re in the early stages of planning a DIY wallpaper project, these tips can help you buy right and install the product with a minimum of trouble.

Know this: It’s not unusual for a homeowner to keep the same wallpaper for as long as 15 or 20 years. So beware of trends and consider the long term before you go so far as to make a purchase. As much as you like a given pattern right now, do you think you’re going to like it as much next year, or several years down the line?

If it’s your first time tackling this type of project, go easy on yourself and start by wallpapering, not a multifaceted space, but a long, uninterrupted wall. Features like doorways and corners only add complexity and require extra trimming and alignment work. Also, remember that, much like a bold paint color, a little wallpaper goes a long way toward making a visual impact. Reconsider your plans to wallpaper an entire room; instead, why not create a single accent wall?

DIY Wallpaper - Bedroom


Though you can still find wallpapers that must be applied in the traditional method, most are now self-adhesive or pre-treated with a water-activated glue. Unless you’ve hung wallpaper before, it’s best to steer clear of any product that must be glued on. Of all the many options available, self-adhesive vinyl is thought to be the most manageable for first-timers. Actually, most wallpapers on the market these days are made of vinyl, not paper. In part, that’s because vinyl lends itself quite well to easy maintenance.

It’s a hard pill to swallow if you’ve fallen in love with an intricately patterned paper, but where installation is concerned, some papers are much easier to install than others. Think it through and choose a wallpaper suitable for your skill level. Hey, if you can’t hang it properly, it’s not going to look good!

Solids: For beginners, textured solids are the safest bet, because they do not need to be carefully aligned. And if imperfections exist—either in your application of the paper or in the irregularity of the room—these problems mostly remain hidden, as the naked eye cannot pick them out amid the sea of color.

Stripes: Far less forgiving is striped wallpaper, which, even for experience do-it-yourselfers, can be tricky to line up properly. And if the room isn’t perfectly level and square, the stripes have a way of calling attention to those flaws. Hung properly in ideal circumstances, though, striped wallpaper draws the eye upward. As a result, the stripes somehow manage to make a small room look decidedly taller.

Patterns: If you’re considering a patterned wallpaper, don’t forget—patterns repeat! You might like the sample, but would you like to see that pattern spread over and over across the breadth of the space? In the end, it’s a matter of taste. Generally speaking, patterns with a repeat of six inches or fewer tend to camouflage misalignments. Larger patterns, with a repeat of 12 inches or more, are easier on the eye when used in abundance, but these papers must be installed perfectly to look right.

DIY Wallpaper - Dining Room


Choosing a wallpaper is hard; deciding how much to buy is easier. A good rule of thumb? Don’t buy too little. Fortunately, by taking careful measurements, you can be sure to purchase enough wallpaper for the project, without overspending. Start by determining the total square footage of the walls you plan to cover. From that number, subtract 10 square feet for every door or full-size window. The resulting number equals the amount of wallpaper, in square footage, you’re going to need.

Complicating matters is the reality that, in the course of hanging wallpaper, you’re almost definitely going to create waste. That’s especially true with patterned paper that must be trimmed to line up with the previously applied sheet. It’s not a mistake to buy at least one or two extra rolls beyond what’s strictly necessary.

If you’ve read this far, you can rest assured that you’ve got the dedication, and now the insight, necessary to hang wallpaper with success. Yes, the process makes painting seem comparatively and appealingly effortless. But while wallpaper may be more demanding, the labor comes with an obvious, eye-catching reward.

The Designers Who Move In, Remodel, and Leave Houses Transformed

Jersey Ice Cream Co. designs homes instead of serving up frosty treats, but there's something satisfyingly sweet about the way they renovate their lived-in homes.

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Tara and Percy


Meet Tara Mangini and Percy Bright, the brains, braun, and creative force behind a truly unique home remodeling company, Jersey Ice Cream Co. This duo’s impressive renovations are a sight to behold, but equally impressive is their design process. Consider them the method actors of home remodelers: They actually move into their remodels, and by living there, they ultimately discover what each house needs and how they should look. It means living in an active constructive site, but the results speak for themselves. They spoke to us about their company and being able to work at their dream jobs.

The reason we started doing what we do is…

When this whole thing got started, we were both in that murky mid-twenties stage where we thought “What am I going to do with my life?” We met while Percy was in the midst of renovating his house in Philadelphia. Almost simultaneously, we completely fell for each other, and started working together to design, furnish, and decorate his house. While looking for furniture, we talked about starting an Etsy shop, selling at flea markets, and hopefully one day expanding into design. At the time, Tara was waiting tables and the thought of any of that coming to fruition was beyond belief. The fact that 5 years later all of those dreams have come true, is just an utterly mind-blowing blessing.

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Breakfast Nook


Our renovation process could be described as…

An organic evolution. We get asked so often how we decided on a paint color or a wall finish or a piece of furniture. And the honest (and usually unhelpful) answer is that we let the project evolve and listened to our guts along the way. Sometimes an unexpected vintage find will totally change our initial thoughts for a space. Sometimes randomly moving a couch will give us a new perspective for a room layout. Living in the space gives us a real understanding for what is needed, and we let our inclinations guide us. I love that our final design feels like a discovery, a surprise, a solution—even to us.

The thing we love most about renovating houses is…

Truly, there are so many things we love about our job, but there are these little moments. Maybe it’s stepping back to really admire something we just finished, maybe it’s that feeling when something suddenly clicks and you realize everything will make sense if you move a doorway, or go with dark plaster instead of light. It could really be anything, but when it happens I feel completely overwhelmed with a feeling of “This is why we do this.” It doesn’t happen everyday, sometimes it doesn’t happen for months. But when we get that feeling we know we’re doing something right.

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Vintage Kitchen


Our first jobs were…

Renovating and designing Percy’s house in Philadelphia was our first job. It was the best kind of job because we were our own client and we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. It really allowed us to develop confidence in our work and our style. From there we did a few small jobs, but our first real official “can you believe this is happening to us?!” job was the house at Shipley Corner. We had a little section on our website at the time about what our dream job would be. All we wanted was for someone to give us a budget, some keys to a house and the freedom to do whatever we wanted with it. When someone emailed to say that wanted to hire us to do just that, we totally lost our minds. It’s been non-stop since then.

Our main sources of inspiration are…

Though we look at blogs and Instagram and things like that for inspiration, I think more of our inspiration comes from the world around us. Details on old barns, the paint color of a restaurant, a scene from a movie. It can get really overwhelming scouring through Pinterest and ideas that seem fresh start to look repetitive and stale. I find the farther away I stay from a computer while we’re working, the better.

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Wood Paneled Room


The most challenging thing about our work is…

One main challenge is that we don’t really have a home base. We live where we work, so we have no actual apartment or house of our own. At times, it’s very freeing, but naturally there are moments when I wish we could go home to a place where we live, with our things, in a house that isn’t currently undergoing major construction. But it’s a choice. I’m sure one of these days we will get an apartment and pull our things out of storage and put dishes on shelves and clothes in dressers. And still, there is a part of me that thinks we’ll do that and discover we like being nomads more than we realized! So it’s a challenge, but also one of the things that keeps us from getting bored, so a mega bonus at the same time.

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Open Shelves


Our favorite part of the process is…

There is a lot of joy in the design process along the way, but nothing really beats the big client reveal. Usually we are running around frantically trying to make everything look perfect, and their knock on the door is like Christmas and getting an exam grade back combined. Our adrenaline is so high while they are walking through the house seeing everything for the first time. It’s a really exciting and really exhausting day.

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Exterior House


The story behind our name is…

We went up to the Brimfield Flea Market a few weeks into dating and stumbled across a booth with a bunch of old embossing stamps. I had never seen one before, but Percy explained how they worked, and I slipped a piece of paper in, stamped down, and there it was! Jersey Ice Cream Co! We joked that we would use that as the name of our business, and then, as all too often happens, that joke became real. We worried a bit about the confusion factor a few years ago, but stuck with it. I’m so glad we did.

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Bathroom


Our all-time favorite tools are…

Tara: My favorite has to be a paintbrush. There have been so many days, when I’m painting a porch, or a kitchen with the windows open, listening to music, maybe sipping on a late-afternoon cocktail when I think “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”

Percy: I’d have to say my hammer. Not many days go by when I don’t use it for one reason or another, and you can’t go wrong with a classic, right?

Jersey Ice Cream Co - Rustic Dining Table


If you loved these pictures, find more—or set up a consultation—at Jersey Ice Cream Co.

Bob Vila Radio: Get the Right Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting fixtures have one thing in common—they're all meant to be installed within the ceiling. Beyond that, however, recessed lights can behave in a variety of ways, each enabling you to achieve a different desired effect.

Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling the interior of an existing residence, recessed lighting offers to add both style and functionality to your digs.

Types of Recessed Lighting


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Listen to BOB VILA ON RECESSED LIGHTING or read the text below:

But before you head to the home center, give some serious thought to exactly what you want to do with the lights. There are several different types of recessed lighting fixtures, and each has its own specific purpose.

For example, wall-washer fixtures flood walls with wide swaths of light, and when they’re positioned around the perimeter of a room, the walls appear to recede, making the room look more airy and inviting.

Narrow-beam adjustable lights, on the other hand, can be aimed at artwork to create dramatic effects. Installing them on the ceiling about a foot and a half from the wall usually gives good results.

Fixtures that have recessed reflectors put out the most light and are best for illuminating such things as a desk, a computer, or a favorite reading chair. Be careful, though. Make sure to position task lighting directly above, not to the side of, the target area; that way, you won’t get shadows from your head or shoulders.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

How To: Measure for Window Blinds

For instant privacy and better control of the natural light that fills your home, window blinds are a fine addition to any room of the house. The best news? Installation is easy—provided you start with the correct measurements. Read on to learn how to get the most accurate numbers.

How to Measure for Blinds


As challenging as it may have been to settle on blinds, not curtains, you’re not quite finished yet. On the contrary. Before you can buy or install new window treatments, you’ve first got to take some careful measurements. And in order to measure for blinds the right way, you must know whether you’re planning to mount the blinds inside or outside of the window molding. There are pros and cons to each style. On the one hand, inside-mounted blinds foster a clean, modern look that shows off the window trim. On the other hand, outside-mounted blinds conceal the window trim but do a better job of blocking light. There’s no right choice; it all depends on the room in question and your style preferences. It’s not a trivial decision, but don’t deliberate too long, because only once you’ve selected a style can you get down to the real business at hand—measuring! Read on to learn how to measure for blinds; the steps are slightly different, depending on your mounting choice.

Inside-Mounted Blinds
Begin by measuring the width—that is, the distance from one inside edge of the casing to the other. Do this in three places: the top, middle, and bottom. If you find that the measured widths are not uniform, keep the narrowest measurement to ensure that once installed, the blinds are able to operate freely, without obstruction.

Next, measure the height of the window—that is, the distance from the sill to the bottom edge of the upper casing. This, too, should be done in three places. Except this time, be sure to record the longest of the three height measurements. While “too long” blinds are no problem, blinds that are too short admit unwanted light.

Finally, measure the depth of the window. Here, focus your attention on the upper window casing. On its bottom side, you ought to see a flat surface whose face looks down on the sill. How deep is that flat surface? For inside-mounted blinds, that can be a critical measurement, as there are minimum depth requirements for many designs. If there’s no flat surface onto which you can fasten the headrail for your blinds, that’s a reason to reconsider installing outside-mounted blinds.

Window Blinds


Assuming that you met no impediments along the way, you’ve now recorded the dimensions you’ll need to purchase inside-mounted blinds for the window. Now repeat the process for the remaining windows.

Outside-Mounted Blinds
One reason to choose outside-mounted blinds is that, unlike the other style, these can be installed no matter what idiosyncrasies exist within the window opening. Just as they conceal the window trim, outside-mounted blinds can also usually cover the cranks and handles used to operate some windows. Another benefit: There’s a more forgiving margin for error when you measure for blinds of this type.

Start by measuring the width, not of the window itself necessarily, but of the left-to-right space you would like the window treatment to cover. If you wish to maximize privacy and light control, plan the set of blinds to extend as much as three inches beyond both sides of the window. (If there’s another window nearby, however, that may not be possible.) Before moving on, record the ideal width you’ve determined.

To measure the length, you must first determine where you’d like to position the headrail (the housing for the mechanical parts that control the up-and-down motion of the blinds). Assume the headrail is going to be at least a few inches tall. From there, measure to the bottom of the windowsill. And if you’re going to want the blinds to hang down below the sill, add to the length measurement accordingly. When in doubt, err on the side of a more generous length measurement, as blinds that are too long can always be adjusted.

Unlike with inside-mounted blinds, you don’t need to take a depth measurement for the outside-mounted variety. That means, once you’ve got the width and length for each of the windows you plan to cover, you’re ready to go select your favorite blinds, whether you’re shopping online or at your local home center.

How To: Remove Wallpaper Glue

To remove wallpaper glue, you don't need any advanced skills or exotic tools—only energy and time.

How To Remove Wallpaper Glue


Removing wallpaper is, in a word, laborious. The process takes a great deal of energy and time. And lo and behold, even once you think you’re finished, you’re not. Stubbornly positioned between you and a smooth, clean wall, there still remains a smattering of stubborn wallpaper glue. You can get it off. Anyone can remove wallpaper glue. It doesn’t take any advanced skills or exotic tools. But much like the work you’ve done already to get this far, removing wallpaper glue requires patience and commitment. When you’re ready to power through to the finish line, continue reading the step-by-step instructions detailed below. We salute you!

- Liquid dish soap
- Baking soda
- Vinegar (optional)
- Bucket
- Sponges
- Rags
- Putty knife
- Plastic tarps
- Painter’s tape
- Clean cloths
- Trash bags
- Disposable gloves
- Ladder (optional, if you have high ceilings) 

How to Remove Wallpaper Glue - In Progress


First, get all furniture and accessories out of the room. If you can’t move everything, at least protect it with a plastic tarp. Use another tarp to cover the floors. As a further precaution, we recommend using painter’s tape to cover the electrical outlets in the room. In fact, it’s not a terrible idea to cut off power to the room altogether. The last thing needed to prepare the work area: trash bags, and plenty of them. Things are about to get messy!

In a bucket, combine hot water, liquid dish soap, and a heaping tablespoon of baking soda. For particularly stubborn adhesive, add one cup of vinegar for every gallon of water used. Next, soak a sponge in the solution, squeeze out the excess liquid, and gently rub the sponge over a small section of wallpaper glue. Having done so, test the glue with your fingernail. You should notice—miracle of miracles!—that the wallpaper glue has softened considerably and seems willing to budge.

With a rag, try wiping the glue off the wall. If it’s ready, a good portion of the glue will come right off. At that point, you can reach for the putty knife and scrape away any last lingering pieces. Because even a speck of leftover wallpaper glue can detract from a future paint job, it’s important to get off every last bit.

Note: If the wallpaper glue seems unfazed, consider purchasing commercial wallpaper remover. It’s not usually necessary, but different installers use different types of glues, some more stubborn than others.

With a clean cloth, use circular motions to wipe the softening solution off the wall. Move on to the next section and repeat the process in step 3. One finished with the entire wall, let the room fully air out.

Remove the painter’s tape and the tarps, and replace the furniture in the room—unless, of course, you plan to paint. If that’s the case, you’re basically all set to continue working—if you have any energy left, that is!

Quick Tip: Clean a Rug with Snow

Save on the cost of professional rug cleaning by doing the job yourself, using a clever technique from yesterday.

How to Clean a Rug with Snow


Before hauling your rug outside on a cold day after a snowstorm, first vacuum its front and back. Alternatively, shake the rug well, releasing all the loose dirt and debris. Next, let the rug sit outside and acclimate to the temperature for about 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step! There are two good reasons for the waiting period: One is that this exposure to the freezing weather will cause accumulated grease and grime on the rug to harden and break up. Equally important is that once chilled, the rug is not likely to melt the snow it’s soon going to lie upon. That’s critical, because if the rug were to be warm, this process would leave it a wet mess.

So once and only once the rug is good and chilly, go ahead and lay it face down in the snow. Next—this is the best part—proceed to beat it with a broom or rake or whatever you have on hand. If you want, you can simply walk back and forth over the rug, but it’s better to use a long-handled tool. You don’t want to crush the rug into the snow. Instead, the goal is to create vibrations between the textile and the snowy ground. When you get tired, flip the rug over and repeat the process.

Finally, pick up the rug and carry it back to your deck, porch, or patio. Shake out as much excess snow as you can, then hang it with clothespins or fold it over a railing. Leave it for about 30 minutes. That should be enough time for the snow within the weave of the rug to turn back into water vapor. When you’re putting the rug back into place indoors, you can admire its renewed colors and the fact that, while it may have been looking the worse for wear, it now looks virtually new!

So, You Want to… Install Recessed Lighting

With a flick of a switch, recessed lighting can suffuse a room with a warm glow, without the fussiness or limitations of elaborate fixtures. Before you decide to install this appealing convenience in your own house, however, you have some homework to do, and a few decisions to make.

How to Install Recessed Lighting


Recessed lighting has been around since the 1930s, and even though its popularity seems to have waned in recent years, manufacturers continue to innovate in the category. Homeowners in the market for recessed lighting have an ever-growing number of functional and aesthetic choices to make. So whether you’re renovating an old house or building a new one, successful recessed lighting installation starts with you—your project and its specific variables, as well as your vision for the completed space.

Before beginning the installation—and even before making any purchases—take the time to understand what limitations (or opportunities) lie in the project you’re planning. Recessed lighting comes with certain requirements. For instance, the housing must be tucked between framing joists. It’s easiest, therefore, for recessed lighting installation to take place during major remodeling or new construction. That said, there are work-arounds: fixtures specially designed to be retrofitted in existing homes. If you plan on doing nothing more than install recessed lighting, then you must be careful to purchase only those fixtures that can be installed under those circumstances.

Early on, you must also decide what type of recessed lighting you would like to install. Shopping is often easier with other types of fixtures, because table and floor lamps, pendants, and sconces each provide only one type of illumination, be it task, ambient, or accent lighting. Recessed lighting fixtures, however, can serve any of these applications, depending on the product you select. You just need to know what you’re looking for.

How to Install Recessed Lighting - Dining Room Detail


Wall-washer recessed fixtures emit wide swaths of light. When positioned around the perimeter of a small room, they can make the space appear much brighter, larger, and more inviting. Coupling wall-washers with dimmer switches provides even more control over the mood of the space.

Adjustable narrow-beam eyeball fixtures are used to highlight features and objects, such as works of art. Positioning the light directly in front of the piece and about a foot and a half from the wall usually gives good results. If your aim is to illuminate a three-dimensional object, you might want to consider installing two or three eyeball fixtures, as that combination produces the most dramatic effect.

Task lighting calls for the most light possible, so opt for recessed fixtures that include reflectors. Again, dimmers can be used to precisely tailor the amount of light. Just make sure the fixtures are positioned directly above the target area, so your head and shoulders don’t block the light.

Most recessed lighting fixtures come in one of three standard diameters: 4-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch. The 6-inch models are the most powerful, and as such, they are best suited for rooms with very tall ceilings. Smaller-diameter fixtures are better for average-size rooms. Bear in mind that the diameter of a fixture also determines how close it can be can be placed to another fixture. A common rule of thumb is to position fixtures at least one foot apart for every inch of the fixture’s diameter: For example, 4-inch fixtures should be spaced four feet apart.

Some recessed lighting fixtures require special wiring and/or a transformer, so you must be at least somewhat familiar with the construction of your home. How far apart are the ceiling joists? What sorts of wiring are you likely to encounter? If you have questions, hire a pro who can do some poking around to see what’s in the ceiling.

One final note: Many municipalities require you to pull a permit before installing recessed lighting. Take care of that before doing anything else. Much better to be safe than to risk having to tear out a nice new installation!

Also, once the fixtures are in place, give careful consideration to the question of which of the many types of light bulbs you are going to use. Bulb costs run the gamut, color rendition levels span from poor to exceptional, and energy efficiency differs, sometimes dramatically, from product to product. Know the pluses and minuses of each type of bulb, and choose wisely.