When you’re designing your closet, you’re probably thinking about the dimensions, how much shelving you need versus how much hanging space – just about anything except the light fixtures. But they’re a critical factor in the functionality, the beauty and even the safety of your closet.
We recently talked with our friends at Capitol Lighting to get their expertise on what to consider when selecting lighting for your next closet makeover.
Q: What are the top considerations people should keep in mind when choosing closet lighting?
A: Safety is the number one consideration to keep in mind when illuminating your closet. The National Electrical Code (NEC) delineates rules and standards for closet lighting to help you get the job done safely.
Whether you are building new or revamping your existing space, you should design your closet with usability and visual comfort in mind.
For a clothes closet, you want good color quality light sources and plenty of glare-free illumination.
If you’re getting dressed in front of a full-length mirror, your closet light fixtures must be properly placed to minimize shadows.
If you have a vanity area in your closet, install an illuminated mirror for ideal lighting.
Choose bright LED light sources in the 3,000-4,000K temperature range to show the true colors of your clothing.
Design matters. In a large master bedroom closet, a decorative chandelier adds elegance and outstanding general illumination.
Q: What safety precautions need to be taken with closet lighting?
A: Whether you are using incandescent, LED or compact fluorescent (CFL) light sources, NEC safety standards should be followed for closet lighting design:
- Surface-mounted or recessed fixtures are permitted, but exposed light bulbs are not.
- Minimum clearance requirements are:
- Surface-mounted incandescent and LED fixtures with completely enclosed light sources must be at least 12 inches from storage/clothing areas.
- Surface-mounted fluorescent fixtures installed on the ceiling or on the wall above the door must be at least six inches from storage areas.
- Recessed LED or incandescent lighting fixtures must be installed at least six inches from clothing/storage areas.
- Incandescent fixtures with open or partially enclosed lamps and pendant fixtures or lamp holders are not permitted in clothes closets.
NPFA 70: National Fire Protection Association rules are adopted in all 50 states. The NEC is the benchmark for safe electrical design, installation and inspection to protect people and property from electrical hazards.
A walk-in closet’s design can be elevated with a chandelier that accents more utilitarian recessed lighting.
Q: Which types of light fixtures are the most popular in closets today? Do you have examples you can share?
A: Chandeliers, recessed and surface mounted lights are all popular.
To make every inch count, add task and accent lighting. Excellent task and accent closet lighting ideas include cabinet lighting, light-up drawer space, mirror lighting and toe-kick illumination.
Decorative lighting, such as a crystal chandelier, adds a luxurious essence for the ultimate in closet lighting design.
Q: If you have a reach-in closet, what light fixtures do you recommend and why? What about a walk-in closet?
A: For a reach-in closet, a couple of recessed fixtures, where ceiling space allows, could do the trick. LED linear lighting is another good option. LED tape lighting or under-cabinet LED strip lights may be custom-measured and are easy to install.
Walk-in closets usually have more ceiling space, so go with flush mounts or semi-flush lighting fixtures to provide for general illumination; this will also add a decorative finish to your closet design.
A flush-mount lighting fixture can add interest and texture, while also serving as a light source.
Q: Is there a formula or a good rule of thumb for determining the size/radius of a light fixture in relation to the dimensions of a closet?
A: In general, one good quality light source will adequately illuminate a 4-foot by 6-foot area.
Though – due to the variety of options as far as lighting fixture type, shape and size – there really is no rule of thumb for closet lighting design. Your personal preference and need will dictate how much and what type of closet lighting is most suitable.
A combination of natural light and a flush-mount fixture provide ample illumination for a walk-in closet.
Overall, illuminating your closet for comfort and visual acuity involves a skillful mix of artistry and lighting design knowledge in keeping with electrical standard compliance.
Contact Capitol Lighting for personal advice on choosing the best closet lighting.