Different general lighting in your rooms

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

The purpose of general lighting is to allow you to see where you are and where you are going, and to identify the objects and furniture in a room. It includes lighting for safety and you should ensure that staircases are well lit without casting confusing shadows, and that you can see the whole of a room, including individual pieces of furniture which might be knocked into otherwise.

The best general light is probably daylight. If you have large windows or roof lights, then you have a head start over people who live in dark basements. However, at night you will need some sort of general electric light and the best idea is to keep it simple.

Many people rely on a single central bulb to provide general lighting, but if you find this a bit bleak you can have lights fitted into the ceiling which have adjustable sockets so they can be swiveled to face in different directions: straight down or towards a wall or worktop, as you wish. These are less obtrusive than spot lamps and are effective for providing good general lighting. They are often used as work lights as well, for example, over a kitchen worktop.

Spot lamps (or eyeball lamps) are effective in most parts of the home as general lighting.

Spots can be fitted individually or on a special track which holds two or three at a time, angled in different directions. For general lighting, choose a spot bulb with a wide beam because too narrow a beam will only highlight details of the room. In a very small or low room, a spot bulb may glare into people’s eyes and a bulb with a silvered end would therefore be preferable.

It may not be necessary for the lighting to be at full strength all the time, particularly when it is combined with other forms of lighting, so it makes sense to have it on a dimmer switch which gives you control over the level of brightness.


A step, or even a slight change in level, can cause people to trip if they don’t see it so all steps and staircases must be properly lit. A light shining downwards from an eyeball fixture or a spot lamp in the ceiling should cover the whole area. The placing of lights on staircases is important because the steps and risers must not fall in shadow. A fluorescent tube hidden behind a wooden strip or baffle will light up the individual steps. The effect can be softened by the addition of wall lamps with opaque shades, which emit a diffused light. These give a soft glow, helping to soften the main light and making any shadows less strong. Nowadays you can buy low-voltage fluorescent bulbs which will fit into standard sockets.

Living rooms

In many rooms, general lighting can be provided by lamps directed towards the ceiling, from which the light is reflected back into the whole room. There is a wide choice of standard and wall lamps which cast their light upwards. Low-voltage tungsten-halogen bulbs are coated with a special gas to give a bright, white light when heated up, not unlike daylight. They incorporate transformers and dimmer switches, which makes them very versatile and economical. Modern standard tungsten-halogen up lighters are usually elegant and good-looking, they take up little floor space and one should provide enough lighting for general purposes or for work in a small- to average-sized room.

General lighting can also be provided by wall lamps, which give an attractive, diffused glow by reflecting light off the wall.

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