Get the Lighting Right in Your Custom Home


Lighting Can be Tricky. Read These Important Tips First.

Over the last quarter century, we’ve seen our fair share of mistakes when it comes to custom home building and designing. Common oversights include failing to budget properly and selecting a poor quality kitchen countertop material.

Another inadvisable custom home decision that is easily avoided, but often done anyways, is selecting lighting without the proper preparation. This scenario happens all the time: homeowners pick dozens of lighting options they like, but when that lighting is installed, it doesn’t work with their home decor or specific rooms.

So, how can you avoid this all-to-common mistake? Use the following guide to be sure you have all the lighting information you need before making this important design decision in your custom home.

Outdoor photo of lights on custom home

Lighting is More Than Just Brightening a Room

Home design and decor relies heavily on lighting, but it can be easy to overlook the complexity of how different lighting compliments–or clashes–with a certain space.

Lighting can be affected by many elements like room size, shape, color, the height of the ceilings, or the type of furniture. You want to be attentive to how you’ll be using each room, and whether putting those recessed lights above the living room couch makes sense for setting the right atmosphere for game night.

There are many high-end lighting options produced by companies outside of the more mainstream “box store” selections.

Here are several lighting options to consider for your custom home:

LED Tape Lights

LED tape for under-cabinet lighting is a common hidden lighting option. This type of specialty lighting is just an eighth of an inch thick, runs about $4,500 and offers a high-quality light that you don’t even realize is there.

Custom lighting in Boston condo

Click the image to see more from this Millennium Tower penthouse remodel!

Custom Recessed Flush Lights

This type of lighting can be considered “museum quality.” Recessed flush lighting has been steadily replacing traditional recessed lighting and pendant lighting, primarily in kitchens. It’s installed in a way that ensures you see only the light, not the bulb, lens or shield. Recessed flush lights are an undeniably classy addition to add more character and warmth to your kitchen space.

Under Cabinet Lights

This type of lighting sits out of sight and out of the way, but offers convenient extra light above kitchen counters or your bathroom vanity. When your kitchen lighting doesn’t offer enough visibility for food prep, under cabinet lights are a great solution that blend right in to your decor.


Because chandeliers come in countless sizes and designs, they are a practical option for rooms that require light throughout the entire space, such as an entryway, dining room or living room. Chandeliers tend to offer a more upscale look and feel, so may not be appropriate for your family room or den.

View of Living Area from Kitchen with Chandelier

Specialty Lighting

“Speciality lighting” sounds broad, because it is. There are a whole host of lighting options for more specialized uses, such as outdoors living spaces. From sconces to outdoor flush mounts to post lights to string lights, there are a host of options that each add a unique charm and comfort to your specialty space.

It almost goes without saying that there are some pretty significant differences between a kitchen and a living room, or a den and a dining room. That’s why different types of lighting are important to give each unique area lighting that supports its use and provides the right ambiance.

We recommend going room by room–or really, area by area–and carefully considering how you use the space and what you would expect from custom lighting.

If You Don’t Know Your Kelvin, Don’t Go it Alone

One of the reasons custom lighting is so hard to get right is because of how important the kelvin level is.

Kelvin is the unit of measurement that refers to a light’s hue. The higher the kelvin, the closer the light’s hue is to actual sunlight. Lights can range from 2,000 kelvin to 7,000 kelvin, which spans the spectrum from mood lighting to the fluorescence of a corporate office space.

Bulbs with an output of 3500 kelvin or lower give off a warmer, more amber-colored hue, as with halogen or incandescent lighting. The hue gets closer to a yellow or more daylight in appearance as the kelvin increases, and is more blue toward 5000 kelvin. Generally, homeowners use bulbs in the 2000 to 3500 kelvin range.

Even with this background information, it can still be difficult to understand the kelvin range that’s most appropriate for your lighting needs. Working with a lighting expert will make the process easier, and ensure you’ll end up with the perfect type of lighting the first time around.

Custom lighting in kitchen

Considering LED Lighting?

Light Emitting Diode, or LED lighting is another type for which you may benefit from working with a professional.

The trick with LED lighting is the dimmer. Not all LED lights can be dimmed with an LED dimmer, so you’ll want to make sure your fixture has a driver that can support this function. Additionally, the mere function of “dimmable” doesn’t guarantee good dimming performance.

Dimmable LED lighting offers variations in brightness, including 0-10 full-spectrum dimming, which is essentially going from fully off to fully on. For the best dimming capability, use a brighter LED lamp. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself dimming an already-dim light, which is a waste of time and money.

Professionals can ensure your dimmer is compatible with your LED lighting, has the desired dimming effect, and can effectively handle the maximum wattage of your LED. There are some great benefits to LED lighting that can have a significant impact on your room’s ambiance, and, handled properly, you can enjoy them all.

Put Your Lighting into Context

One significant benefit to custom lighting is eliminating the need for lamps all over your home. Lamps can be great compliments to an interior design, but you likely don’t want to have a lamp in every corner of a room just because you need more light.

If you’re working with a lighting designer, they will carefully consider the context of each room you’re looking to light. For instance, should the light be indirect so it lights the room but is not itself visible? This effect can be achieved with coffered or hidden lighting.

If direct lighting is a better option for your space, your designer will help you select a complimentary light source that creates a focal point in the room that plays well with your aesthetic or overall theme.

The lighting in your custom home is important, and should be carefully considered with the help of a professional home builder and designer who understands the complexities of how different lighting impacts difference spaces.

If you see areas where different lighting could make a difference for your home, contact us for a consultation.


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