When working on a new construction or major remodel project, I tackle the lighting plan very early on (usually right after finalizing the design style and doing the initial space planning). Only then will you know the seating layout, task areas and spaces that need to be highlighted (wall art, for example). Planning the lighting prior to space planning makes as little sense as trying to add all the lighting layers at the end when it is too late (and too expensive) to do the necessary wiring.

In this dining room that I worked on a few years ago, you can see two of the lighting layers (ambient light via the sconces and decorative light via the chandelier). What you don’t see are the small recessed can lights focused on the dining table itself. Robert Naik Photography.


Another reason to plan lighting early is cost. Time and time again, I’ll have a new client lament that they didn’t get around to selecting the lighting (let alone plan for it) until the very end when they were picking out the furnishings and by then there was very little money left in the budget.

Why settle for boring? Or worse, typical? This interesting fixture was selected for a long hallway (it is used repeatedly) instead of recessed cans to provide visual interest and a bit of drama in the evening. Robert Naik Photography.


Good lighting design should never been an afterthought. It adds as much, if not more, to the overall function and feel of your home as any of the other elements. Also, good lighting design is not just about selecting a pretty chandelier, but about planning in the different layers of lighting needed for each space.

I’m talking about task lighting (like under cabinet lighting in a kitchen), ambient lighting (for example, dimmable wall sconces that provide general soft light around a space) and decorative lighting (here is where that amazing chandelier comes back in). Ambient lighting can also be in the form of table and floor lamps. The idea is to have the lighting come from many directions and for different purposes, just not only overhead via recessed lights or only from lamps.

Let’s count all the lighting layers in this greatroom! Ambient – wall sconces, table lamp, up lighting on top of the bookcases. Decorative – beautiful chandelier plus wall scones. Task – recessed can lights. Job well done! Robert Naik Photography.


So to summarize… Only overhead recessed lights? NO! Just table lamps? Please. Plan the lighting when picking furniture? I’m offended now. Plan and budget early for layered lighting and interesting, unique pieces and you won’t regret it.

I’d love to hear your comments below or contact me at peg@berensinteriors.com to discuss how we may work together in the future.

Interiors. Redesigned.
XO – Peg
Design: Peg Berens Interior Design
Architect: Studio 6 Architects
Builder: Southern Counties Construction