Accent Lighting Around a Fireplace
Don't send in grids of recessed cans to do the job of a proper lighting plan, says our expert.
 
recessed lighting
Six recessed fixtures does not a lighting design make, but that floral tile design above the sink is bangin'!
I have a fireplace that is about 72 inches wide on a wall that is 16 feet tall on one end and 14 feet tall on the other end. What would you suggest for accent lighting of the fireplace? The room already has a grid of six Halo 6-inch recessed cans with eyeball trims.

It sounds like your room is suffering from a bad case of inadequate lighting. I see it all the time, where a contractor or an architect has put in a grid of recessed fixtures and called it a day. This is not really what we would call lighting design, since it doesn’t relate to how the room is being used. The first thing I would have you consider doing is to retrim the existing recessed fixtures with the Halo 1450P trim. This will turn your existing fixtures into recessed adjustable low voltage fixtures with much smaller apertures. These can then be directed around the room to illuminate tabletops, plants and other objects. These trims use halogen MR16 lamps but you can also consider using LED versions instead.

I would use two additional recessed adjustable fixtures to cross-illuminate the fireplace. Place them 2 feet out from the face of the fireplace. If you install them too far out from the wall, then people who are walking in front of the fireplace will get that light right in their eyes.

Also, I would really recommend that you add some sort of indirect lighting into the space to show off the wonderful height of the ceiling and to soften the shadows on people’s faces. I would recommend installing a cantilever on the wall section below the high side of the ceiling with a run of indirect lighting on top or a series of opaque wall sconces — take a look at the Belfer Wedge (www.belfer.com) as a reference. This will help create an inviting glow of illumination for the room. You might also consider installing two pendant fixtures that are centered on the fireplace and divide the room into thirds. This will help create a little bit more human scale to the space and add what I like to call architectural jewelry. Even houses like a little bling.

Randall Whitehead lighting designer
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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