How To Light a Closet (Reviews)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  October 29, 2012  |  5 Min. Read

Lighting  |  Closet Lighting

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Closets may be the single location in a home with more variables than any other space. A closet can be anything from a nook under a staircase to a series of interconnecting rooms. No matter how big or small all closets should have lighting in them. So no one single light will be the answer for all spaces.

Closets can also be a very tricky location to light and also one of the most important. Building codes dictate fixture types and locations for safety reasons which can be frustrating  Based on size of the space a closet light can be as simple as a fluorescent strip light with a diffuser or a series of recessed lights and possibly even chandeliers.

Often for smaller closets a simple strip light mounted above the closet door header area will be sufficient. This will provide general light and meets code requirements and are an affordable solution. Fluorescent should be a consideration for closets. Its high Kelvin temperature is unappealing in a kitchen, but is perfect for closets.

High Kelvin temperature are better for distingushiing blacks and navys. You will be able to tell the difference early in the morning.

forecast wall sconce closet lighting

For walk in closets a bit more thought can really make a difference. Closet design has become a huge part of today’s building industry and want to light it properly. With today’s lighting choices you can create a functional and yet attractive space that you will be happy with for years.

As with any space “light layering” is important. Light layering simple means you have a few different lighting options that create light in different ways. The four categories of light layering are as follows: task lighting, ambient lighting, decorative lighting, and accent lighting. Some of these overlap and not all may be required for a closet space. I recommend using small LED recessed lights around the perimeter of the space to provide lighting for clothing racks and shelving units. This will provide a light in the area where you particularly need it and is efficient to operate and generates very little heat.

closet lighting semi flush mount lights

closet lighting semi flush mount lights 2

You can use a decorative ceiling fixture, or if more height is available you can certainly hang a pendant or chandelier. This will provide ambient light that will fill in the center portion of the closet and give the room character. If there are dressing tables or vanity areas you may also consider using wall sconces as well.

closet lighting 1

By using the recessed lighting around the perimeter and a decorative fixture cover the needs of this space perfectly.

closet lighting 2

The central fixtures and wall sconces add beauty. Recessed could also be added if desired.

closet lighting 3

The recessed lighting looks very chic, but is missing ambient light. A chandelier would add depth as well as character to the space.

To a lot of people, picking out what to wear can be the most difficult choice for a person to make!!! Why should we not give the space in which this highly important decision is made a little bit more attention than often considered?

How To Light a Closet:

  • Check the local codes for style and type of fixture (especially if you are in California and different parts of Mass).
  • Do not be afraid of fluorescent, especially with darker colors
  • Light layer a walk in closet with elements of Task (recessed or track) as well as  Ambient (uplighting), Accent and Decorative (chandeliers and sconces).

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

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