Angie's List: Should I hire a lighting designer?

By Paul F.P. Pogue
Angie's List

Lighting design is a crucial part of a living space. But many homeowners overlook this crucial aspect of home design. Lights impact everything from your furniture to reading to how paint looks on your wall.

So it's just as important to think through lighting as it is drapes, furniture or materials, if not more so. General contractors and interior design pros sometimes offer lighting advice, but for a truly outstanding interior light look, you can seek out a professional designer who specializes in lighting.

Lighting design helps you make the most of an often overlooked element of home design.

If you're undertaking a major home remodel or a new home build, then it is wise to search out a lighting designer that you're comfortable with during the early planning stages. Lighting design is one of the most important aspects of a home, inside and out, and a good lighting specialist will be able to offer you valuable, and innovative, ideas that may be incorporated into the structural design of your home.

The other reason you want to incorporate a lighting designer into your plans early on is that every aspect of design, from electrical wiring to installing fixtures, is easier to do in the early stages of construction. Waiting on doing your lighting until after the major building is finished will mean a lot more extensive work later on, and from a budgetary perspective, a much bigger hit to your wallet. You'll pay between $75 and $150 for the expertise of a lighting designer.

Lighting design principles

Whether you're doing it yourself or hiring a designer, understanding the basics of lighting design can help you work out your plans.

Use natural light: It's more economical, generally more pleasant, and if you're in the middle of a major remodel or designing a new home, some stunning uses of natural light can easily be incorporated into your overall architectural design.

Study up on the major uses of lighting in a home: Those include task lighting, accent lighting and ambient light. Task lighting focuses on specific work areas, such as countertops and tables. Accent lighting lights up areas of your home you want to draw special attention to, such as architectural areas, artwork and stairways. Ambient light refers to general lighting, such as what you'd find in general living areas and kitchens.

Think about different types of lighting and where they will work best in your home: Recessed lighting is all the rage, and works for just about any application you can think of. It can also be used as task, accent or ambient lighting, depending on the specific needs of the area. Track lighting is also popular these days and is especially effective accent lighting when used to bring focus to certain areas, architectural designs or artwork.

Paul F.P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit