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How to Plan the Best Pot Lights Spacing

How to Plan the Best Pot Lights Spacing

Pot lights are a beautiful addition to any room. Spacing them correctly can make sure that all areas are evenly lit and that your rows of lights are even and aesthetically pleasing. We’ll show you how to correctly space your pot lights in this handy guide.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Determine Your End Goal

    A kitchen lit with pot lights.

    Lighting can do a lot for your space, but before you begin a renovation, you need to know your end goal. Here are a few things you can accomplish by installing pot lights:

    • You can make functional spaces brighter and easier to use. This might include a home office or spaces where you prepare food in the kitchen.
    • You can make your spaces more inviting with better lighting. Adding pot lights will also give you more options if you choose to install them connected to a dimmer switch.
    • Your pot lights can be used to highlight special features of your home. This can include architectural details or special items like art pieces on the wall.
    • You can accomplish multiple goals. Creating a pot light layout that provides better ambient lighting, task lighting and specialty lighting to illuminate art and decorative objects all at the same time is totally possible!
  2. Step 2 Measure Your Room

    A person uses a tape measure to measure the dimensions of a wall.

    Proper overhead lighting is all about getting the right number of lights for your space. You can get the proper pot lights spacing by first measuring your room.

    Doing this is simple and all you’ll need is a tape measure. Measure the length and the width of your room, adding in any unique spaces like cutouts as well. You’ll also want to measure the height of your ceiling. Make a note of these measurements since you’ll need them later.

  3. Step 3 Calculate the Pot Lights Spacing

    Pot lights are spaced out along a ceiling.

    You can determine the proper placement of pot lights by dividing the height of your ceiling by two. For example, if you have an 8-foot-high ceiling, you will want to leave 4 feet between each pot light.

    While this formula is useful as a rule of thumb, it’s important to note that all rooms are unique and require slightly different lighting schemes. For example, your kitchen pot light layout may be different than your living room pot light layout since you do very different things in each of those spaces.

    Spaces like kitchens and offices may also require a non-standard layout to properly illuminate work areas or spots where you take on tasks like food preparation.

  4. Step 4 Determine the Distance from the Walls

    Pot lights illuminate a wall with a painting on it.

    As a rule, your pot lights should be between 18 inches to 36 inches from the wall. However, there is a more precise formula you can use to get the right distance from the wall.

    With the length measurement of the area you want to illuminate in hand, you can divide that number by twice the number of lights you plan to place in that row. That will be the distance from the wall to your first light in most cases. Using this measurement formula should give you an even looking layout that makes sense visually.

    Do take note that special circumstances like workspaces or kitchens with extra-deep cabinets may require you to alter these measurements to create the lighting layout you desire. If you’re working with cabinets, leaving about 14 to 18 inches between them and your lights will also help reduce light loss that can make your space feel darker than intended.

  5. Step 5 Incorporate Focal Points

    Pot lights illuminate a fireplace.

    Focal points within your room may need extra illumination. You may also want to plan your pot lighting layout in a way that highlights these spaces and provides the right amount of light as well. Here are a few ways to do that:

    • Add extra pot lights for decorative items like art pieces or sculpture. These extra lights can help your favorite pieces stand out without detracting from the rest of your lighting scheme.
    • Choose pot lights that can be angled instead of fixed-point designs. Pot lights that can be angled can be used to provide a little extra visual focus to art pieces and décor items. They can also help illuminate a space like a dining area.
    • Opt for an extra row of lights around focal points. A good example of this you’ll see in many homes is a kitchen or dining room where a middle row of lights is added between two outer rows to provide extra illumination above a kitchen counter or dining table.
  6. Step 6 Sketch Your Pot Lights Layout

    A room with a lot of pot lights on the ceiling, illuminating various objects and features.

    Taking the time to create a quick sketch can ensure that you’ve got everything just the way you want it. Create your sketch on grid paper making clear note of the dimensions of your room. You’ll also want to insert markers that indicate cabinets, furniture, art pieces and other décor items of note.

  7. Step 7 Tips to Prevent Shadowy Corners

    A person carries laundry into a brightly lit laundry room.

    Proper pot light placement can provide even, balanced lighting for any space. A poor layout can result in corners that have visible shadows. Here are a few tips to avoid those unsightly shadowy corners:

    • Avoid a single row of lights down the center line of your room. Instead, opt for two rows on the edges to illuminate the whole space.
    • Use three or more rows if you need more lighting for a large or focused space like above a dining table. Over-lighting your room and using dimmers on some or all lights is a great way to ensure you don’t have hot spots or dead zones in your room.
    • Move your lights out a little further when creating your layout. Lights that are closer to 36-inches from the wall are less likely to create shadows if you opt for a minimal lighting scheme.

What You Need for This Project

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