Lighting Low Ceilings

Lighting low ceilings is a challenge we frequently face in older buildings.  Low ceilings can make a room feel oppressive.  We use a variety of techniques to lift a space through careful attention to lighting design and fitting selection.

Low ceilings are a common challenge for our lighting design team.  It’s a problem we see in a couple of forms.  Older, smaller properties often simply have lower ceilings but even a standard height ceiling can appear lower in a large room.  In either case our approach to lighting low ceilings employs the same fundamental principle.  Get lighting up on to the ceiling.  It draws your eye upwards, visually lifting the room.

lighting low ceilings requires creative use of alternative fixing points like floors, walls and fitted furniture

A standard ceiling height is 2.4m.  If you’re working with ceilings lower than this or even if you just feel the ceiling height is  low compared to the size of the room you may want to look at some of the  techniques we use as part of our lighting designs.

Lighting low ceilings in a Yorkshire Dales cottageBe creative with fixing points

Floors, walls, fitted furniture and even wall mounted coffers offer potential fixing points for fittings that can throw light up onto the ceiling.  Ground recessed uplighters give a striking clean-lined look and throw light upwards without cluttering the walls.

Fitted furniture also offers potential fixing points. We use concealed linear fittings on the top of bookcases for example.  The effect can be to wash light across the  ceiling again lifting your eye upwards.

Surf Wall LightIf space and layout allows then punchy wall lights can give great uplighting.  This is a technique suited to larger rooms which give the impression of being low as the fitting still need to be fixed above eye-level.  A fitting such as Surf (right) is a clean, non-obtrusive light source delivering light onto the ceiling.   It’s a discreet look that fits into both traditional and contemporary spaces equally well.

Using downlighting in rooms with low ceilings

If the ceiling is really low as opposed to simply appearing low we use downlights where the light source is set back or baffled.   This reduces glare which can be quite uncomfortable if the light source is close to your eyes.  Another thing to remember when lighting low ceilings is that there is simply less space. To get adequate lighting coverage down from the ceiling we will often use fittings capable of handling wider beam widths.

An associated challenge in lighting low ceilings is void depth or lack of it.  In older properties there is often a very restricted ceiling void.   If you have to surface mount lighting you need shallow fittings.  For example slimline track mounted lighting which can look quite minimalist in old houses.

Flush mounted ceiling lightDecorative fittings can present a problem.   Flush mounted decorative fittings are in scarce supply though we can supply some beautiful examples such as the flush mounted ceiling fitting shown here.  It’s possible to use hanging decorative fittings; some are more suitable than others and it’s a good idea to site them over furniture to keep them from being banged into.

Finding creative ways to light low ceilings is one more example of how Brilliant Lighting uses lighting to alter the shape and feel of a space.