Striking the right balance between form and function can be a challenge in any space, but successful lighting design in a timber home with cathedral ceilings soaring 20-plus feet into the air creates an additional set of challenges. Lighting from fixtures that would work well in a room with traditional 8-9 feet ceilings can get lost in a two-story room.
1. Focus on FunctionA lot happens in the shared living areas under a cathedral ceiling, from cooking, dining and entertaining to watching television, playing games and reading. As a result, lighting in these spaces matters—a lot. Focusing on function first will help determine when and where to appropriately incorporate task, ambient and accent light. Something to keep in mind: Unlike traditional construction, there are limited cavities to conceal wiring in a timber home — even more so in the case of a Structural Insulated Panel (aka SIP) roof system like the Verhoffs’, where recessed lighting wasn’t an option.
2. Add a Style StatementTo help choose the right fixtures and determine placement, think of the areas below a vaulted ceilings like a blank canvas and the fixtures as your art. Your goal is not only to provide adequate lighting but also to create visual interest, adding a layer of style into an otherwise empty space. (Think of lighting like the statement jewelry for your cathedral ceilings.) Decide on the look you want—rustic, contemporary or transitional—to direct your search.
3. Consider the SourceWhen choosing bulbs to place in the fixtures in your cathedral ceiling, LEDs and CFLs are both a smart pick. As a rule of thumb, LED bulbs are best for providing directional lights, such as for task lighting for reading or cooking, while CFLs are a good choice for general or ambient lighting. (Tip: you can also purchase diffusers for your LED bulbs to make them better suited as an ambient light source.)
To keep from swapping out bulbs for as long as possible (keep in mind — your bulbs are two stories up!), opt for LEDs which have a slight edge over CFLs. Both types are available in a range of shades, from warm white to daylight, and are known for their energy efficiency. Because of the added space the light needs to travel in a room with a vaulted ceiling, it’s best to look for 120-watt equivalent bulbs to ensure adequate lighting fills the spaces above and below the fixture.