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The Basics of Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting can be a key element in the style and function of a space by increasing the amount of light in a room to highlighting artwork and other features you want to show off. However, they need to be placed in optimal and specific locations, otherwise there’s no reason to use them. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

Artwork A common usage of recessed lighting is to showcase a painting, display cabinet, or photograph. Have the light installed 12-18 inches in front of the item for perfect illumination; never light front behind, always the front.

3D Objects When lighting a 3D object such as a fireplace, sculpture, or flower vase, one light isn’t enough and will cast a shadow on the ground. It’s more effective to have lights from 2-3 different angles. Have adjustable multi-directional lights installed to create a more dramatic effect; there are LED-type lights suited for 3D objects.

Task Lights Task lights are normally installed in kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Lights should be placed overhead so your head and shoulders do not block the light. Common locations are vanity dressers, kitchen counter tops/shelving, and staircases.

Tip: Avoid the “Airport Runway” Avoid installing too many recessed lights close together in one area to avoid the look of an airport runway or Christmas light effect.

Recessed lighting can be installed in most rooms in your home. Before purchasing, get advice from an experienced electrician and/or have them professionally installed if the skills are too advanced for you.

Need help creating the home of your dreams? Call Adolfson Interior Design at (651) 468-6208 or email

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