Recessed lighting is a great way to brighten up any room. However, the important thing is installing the lights where they will look and work the best. So, how far away from the wall should recessed lighting be? In this article, we’ll discuss a few spacing guidelines.

how far away from the wall should recessed lighting be

Recessed Lighting Spacing

The most important aspect of installing recessed lighting is installing them in such a way that not only do they look aesthetically attractive but light up the room in the best way possible. Spacing the recessed lights in a room can be a bit tricky.

However, there are a few guidelines that can help you plan the distance of the recessed lighting from the walls, light fixtures and other features in the room to deliver aesthetically pleasing, yet functional lighting.

How Far Away from the Wall Should Recessed Lighting Be?

recessed light spacing

When you consider recessed lighting installation, often, people find it quite difficult to determine how far away from the wall the recessed light fixture should be. To make things easier for you, here is a general guide that can help you determine the distance for the recessed lighting from the wall. For each inch that the lights are from the wall multiply this by 6 and divide by 24.

The distance between the wall and the recessed light should be not less than 4 inches. If you’re installing recessed lighting in front of things to illuminate them such as a bookcase, picture, curtain panels, etc. then the light fixture should be installed around 12 inches to 18 inches in front of the object.

To answer the question, how far away from the wall should recessed lighting be, you need to first determine where the recessed lighting is being installed and what type of lighting you’re trying to achieve. Below, we’ll take a look at the distance that recessed lights must be placed from a wall in specific applications.

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Recessed Downlights

If you’re installing recessed downlights, then the distance of the downlights must be around 1.5 feet to 2 feet away from the walls and the distance between each recessed downlight should be around 3-4 feet.

In the Living Room

Your living room is a place to relax and you can use recessed lighting to create a calm and relaxing ambiance. You can achieve a nice, pleasant glow by installing the recessed lights at a distance of around 2 feet from the wall for a room with a ceiling of 8 feet height. This will illuminate the wall and ceiling to produce an aesthetically pleasing and calming effect.

In the Kitchen

If you’re using recessed lighting in the kitchen, then for task lighting, the lights must be placed 2 feet away from the wall and focused over the edge of the kitchen countertop.

recessed lighting wall spacing

Accent Lighting

If you’re planning to accent a specific area of the room, any piece of art, a painting, collectibles or architectural feature then accent lighting using recessed lights is a great option. And, the positioning of the recessed lights is critical to maximizing the visibility of the objects.

Typically, it is recommended to install the recessed light fixtures 3 feet away from the wall and if or if you want to light up an entire wall then the recommended distance away from the wall is 1.5 feet. However, if the fixtures are fixed, then the lights must be placed a little closer to the wall.

Wall Lighting

When you’re using recessed downlights for general lighting purposes, you should ensure that the lights are away from the ceiling edge, where it meets the wall because if the lights are very close to the wall, it will create large shadows, which you don’t want in a room.

Wall Washing

The technique of wall washing is when the light from the recessed lighting fixture bathes the entire surface of the wall with light uniformly. Wall washing works very well if you want to highlight an entire wall with mounted objects, wall hangings or a large painting. It is a great lighting technique if you want to highlight an accent wall, cabinetry or a wall of bookshelves.

However, the effect of wall washing is dependent on the spacing of the recessed lighting, which is critical to achieving the effect. For wall washing, the lights should be installed at a distance from the wall such that the light falls at a wider angle on the wall.

Typically, the recessed light should be placed around 2.5 feet to 3 feet away from the wall and the distance between each of the recessed lighting fixtures must be the same as their distance from the wall.

Wall Grazing

When the recessed downlights are placed very close to the wall and pointed straight down, the effect produced is known as wall grazing. This effect produces a unique shadow and quite a dramatic effect.

Wall grazing is usually used to highlight textured rough stone, brick, stucco and textured walls. For the wall grazing effect, the recessed lights must be placed around 6-12 inches away from the wall and around 16-24 inches away from each other.

Light Scallops

When recessed lights are placed adjacent to a wall, the shadow effects produced are quite interesting. This type of lighting technique is known as light scallops because of the rounded shape of light that is produced when the light from the recessed light fixture hits the surface of the vertical wall. Light scallops are typically used along corridors, hallways or passageways to create a dramatic effect.

To produce the light scallop effect, the recessed lights must be placed 2x apart as the distance from the wall, which means that if the distance of the recessed lights from the wall is 2 feet, then the space between the lights must be 4 feet.

The spacing of the recessed lights can be adjusted depending on the ambiance you’re trying to create. The only thing is that they must be spaced symmetrically and uniformly. Also, the lights should not be placed too far away from the wall, as this will create the scallops to be formed too low on the wall and create a cave effect.

So, as you can see, determining how far away from the wall should recessed lighting be is tricky but not impossible. With a bit of careful planning and calculation, you can determine this and achieve the effect you desire in each part of your home.

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