You’re building a new home and want to make every room as comfortable as possible? Then you should not only think about furniture or decor: the level of brightness at different spots and different times of day also plays an essential role. But how do you figure out the lighting design for a new house? We’ll walk you through the entire process – step by step.

How we feel, both physically and mentally, depends highly on the type of light we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Just to give one example: in 2021, the GBCI (Green Business Certification Inc.) and Saint Gobain Research conducted a survey on work environments and their impact on employees. 60 percent of the participants reported problems caused by poor lighting – e.g. blurry vision, eye strain and irritation, and dry eyes. This in turn can lead to fatigue, headaches, and difficulties to concentrate. Considering how many people work from home these days, a healthy indoor climate is more important than ever – and that includes the air quality as much as the lighting conditions.

Choosing new lights for your home: what to consider in advance  

First and foremost, you should be familiar with some general guidelines that apply to any building. The ideal lighting scenario is a combination of three types:

  • Basic lighting (i.e. ceiling lamps or spotlights that don’t cast shadows) serves to facilitate the visual orientation at large. You should aim for colours at around 3000 Kelvin.

  • Zone lighting (f.ex. suspended luminaires or desk lamps) illuminates designated areas such as a dinner table, kitchen island, or reading corner.  

  • Mood lighting ensures a warm and cosy ambience. This works best with desk and floor lamps or LED strips on floors and ceilings.  

Lichtplanung im Neubau Schlafzimmer
The lighting design for a new home should include different types of lamps that all serve a specific purpose. Source: iStock

Lighting in new builds: turning a vision into action

Throughout the planning process, we recommend sticking to a systematic step-by-step model. This not only keeps you from forgetting or overlooking anything – it also makes it easier for your electrician to set up the installation later on.

Each room has its own special requirements and challenges. On top of that, the lighting in a new house must meet the residents‘ individual preferences as well. Take your time to think about what you need in each area, based on the following guidelines:  

  • Living room: indirect and warm lighting is ideal for spaces where you mainly want to relax or watch TV.

  • Bedroom: mood lighting with a dimming function helps you fall asleep faster and wake up fully rested. The dressing corner (in case you have one) should be well lit though.  

  • Home office: a bright atmosphere is essential to stay productive and motivated, especially on cloudy days. Try to illuminate the room as evenly as possible – otherwise, it will put a strain on your eyes in the long run.

  • Kids‘ room: children usually feel comfortable surrounded by a combination of warm white and glare-free lamps. In addition, LED orientation lights can provide an extra level of safety for nightly walks to the bathroom.  

  • Kitchen: on countertops, the lighting in new houses should be sharp and clear. At the dinner table, on the other hand, you can keep the level of brightness a lot lower.

  • Bathroom: apart from the main source of light, you’ll need lamps around the basin and mirror for shaving or applying makeup. Smart motion detectors also come in handy when you have to use the bathroom at night – and help you save energy at the same time.

  • Stairways: if you want to avoid tripping hazards, make sure that the edges are well lit. You can combine one source of light on the upper landing and several spotlights along the staircase, for example.

Split up your plan into separate zones, including every large piece of furniture and its exact position. A special ruler with different scale standards – also known as triangle – will help you depict the correct proportions.    
Once you have mapped out the furniture and primary sources of lighting for your new house, you’ll see where you need additional lamps. Maybe some corners are still too dark, or you want to create a warmer ambience in the main living area? Provided you factor in plenty of extra socket outlets, you can also upgrade your installation later on.  

Next, make a list with all the types of lighting you want to set up. Try to give as much detailed information as possible (precise measurements, special products from certain manufacturers, smart features, etc.). This way, it will be easier to implement your plan in the final stages.

Tip: Ask yourself how you’d like to control the lighting in your new home. Smart technology enables you to rely on apps, voice assistants, and digital interfaces – along with classic switches on the wall. If you want that kind of comfort, you should consider installing a KNX system at the very beginning.

New construction lighting: the final checklist

Before setting your plan in motion, have one more look at it with these four aspects in mind.

  • Lighting effects: mixing different colours, temperatures, and lamp designs can result in a variety of moods. What works great in one room might feel too bright or too gloomy in another. If you’re looking for ideas, you can visit trade fairs, scroll through catalogues, and ask an interior expert for advice.

  • Socket outlets: with lamps on the table or on the floor, you might quickly run short of power supplies. To avoid clutters of extension cables and other improvised solutions, plan a few additional socket outlets in each room.

  • Outdoor lighting: at night, poorly lit driveways or pathways not only turn into tripping hazards – they also encourage unwanted visitors to step on your property. That’s why the lighting inside your new house is just as important as the lighting outside: smart motion detectors will help you find your way in the dark and scare intruders away. Turning on and off automatically, they keep your energy expenditure at a minimum, too.     

  • Light colours: how we react to a certain lighting depends in huge parts on its colour, which is measured in Kelvin. Simply put: the higher the number, the cooler it feels. In bedrooms and living areas, you should aim for a warm white colour between 2800 and 3300 Kelvin. In the kitchen and bathroom, it can be a bit brighter though.  

  • Smart control: with the right system, you can connect all kinds of lamps to each other or to different devices. This allows you to control your lighting via app or voice command and even create complex scenes that activate multiple functions at once.  

Gira UK c/o Wandsworth, the home of Gira in the UK

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