Creating A Well Thought Out Lighting Design Plan

Rhonda E. Peterson

Creating a lighting design plan before beginning your search for the perfect lamp, chandelier, sconce, etc. should be top priority.  When creating your plan, first things first:

  1. Decide how the space will be used and how you will function in it.
  2. Think about the room as a whole.  How large is the room?  Determining this will dictate the best type of lighting and how much is needed to properly light the space.  Recessed lighting is a great way to introduce general (ambient) lighting.  This can also be accomplished with the addition of chandeliers and wall fixtures.  There are times, in my opinion, when I consider chandeliers and sconces to also be accent lighting.
  3. Thought should be given to the arrangement of your furnishings.  Will you need table lamps and/or floor lamps?  These are considered task lighting and will be used for reading or any other tasks that may be done in a particular area.
  4. Will you be featuring works of art, photography, or architectural details?  If so, the appropriate accent lighting should be selected; i.e. track lighting, recessed lights, and wall mounted picture lights.

Now that we have a grasp on how to select the appropriate lighting for our spaces, it’s time to give a little thought to how we will turn those lights on and off!  Again, in my opinion, this is something that often gets overlooked, until you’re tripping over objects, or hitting your knees on tables in the dark, trying to find the light switch!


When devising a lighting plan for a clients kitchen, there were two points of entry and exit where we made certain to have a switch that turned on all of the recessed lighting; the general lighting I discussed earlier.  There was a switch that turned on the under cabinet lighting, as well as a switch for the pendant lighting over the breakfast table.  To make it easier for the cook in the kitchen, we installed a light switch near the sink that turned on the pendant above the sink, as well as the pendants above the island; since this is where much of the food preparation and clean up would happen.  By doing this, we made it easy and convenient to access the appropriate lighting needed to function efficiently in the space.  Oh, all of these lights were on dimmers.  Dimmers create a mood and just because it’s a kitchen, doesn’t mean there should not be a nice mood!


If you are creating a lighting design plan for a living room, you may want to do much the same as I did in my client’s kitchen.  At the point of entry and exit, you will definitely want to have a switch that turns on the general lighting.  This way, you’re not running across the room to turn lights on or off; no more stubbed toes and bruised shins!  Since we layer lighting in most all of our rooms, thoughtful consideration should be given to how you will access turning those, well appointed lights, on and off.  Working with a good master electrician can assist you with this project, however to ensure nothing gets missed, and you design a plan according to the way you live and will function in the room, retaining the services of an interior designer or a lighting specialist is recommended.


Your design plan is not complete until you have addressed where and how your selected lighting will be accessed.  To get an idea of what a lighting plan looks like, click here.  It doesn’t have to be anything as precise as the ones shown, however it does need to identify which lighting is to be on which switch.  An interior designer or lighting designer can draw one of these detailed plans for you or if you’re feeling really confident in your abilities to convey the same directions…go for it!  Not my recommendation, but I do realize we have some very savvy readers that are up to the challenge!

Make it AMAZING!





About the author

Rhonda E. Peterson

Rhonda E. Peterson

Rhonda E. Peterson is an interior designer living in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children. She writes a lifestyle blog Stylish Spaces Designed For Living, where she shares her thoughts and ideas regarding all things design and her random musings. Rhonda’s blog was voted Modenus Top 100 Interior Design Blogs for 2013. Her writing style is very much her own and has gained her a loyal following of readers. Her interior design work was showcased in the 2013 Cathedral Antiques Inspiration House, the 2013 Christmas at Callanwolde Show House, featured on many of the top interior design blogs, and Houzz; where she was awarded Best of Houzz 2014 for Client Satisfaction. Rhonda has always had a love for all things design, even as a child, sketching plans for her very own playhouse and homes she wanted to live in. After college, Rhonda found herself modeling for Elite Model Management for over fifteen years; which later segued into her career now as an interior designer. She is an Associate ASID member and is active in the community working with various charities creating better living environments for women, children, and veterans. You can follow Rhonda on Facebook (Rhonda E. Peterson), Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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