We are often asked about what types of light bulbs home owners should install in particular areas of their home. Often these questions are not related to the wattage or electrical usage of the bulbs themselves but rather more from a decor perspective. The questions revolve around what bulb colour or style will work the best for each room or fixture. With that in mind, we decided to ask Chris Oulton from MVP Lighting to provide some insight to help you choose the right light bulbs for your home and fixtures. 

Generally, deciding on what type of light bulb to buy is a daunting task as the options are plentiful. If you have a room with multiple lights and bulbs it isn’t as simple as choosing a bulb with the same wattage. It may or may not fit into the fixture and you also can’t assume that it will match the same colour as the rest of the lights. 

Light bulb manufacturers use verbiage on their packaging to help you “match” lighting colours by offering terms like soft, warm or daylight. Although these are helpful on a high-level not all manufacturers use these standard terms. Colour temperatures are measured on the Kelvin temperature scale. Typically you will see the following in terms of what colour light you will receive from bulbs on the Kelvin scale. 

2700 – 2800K: Warm (yellowish light) 

3000 – 3200K: Warm (still slightly yellowish) 

3500 – 4000K: Bright white (neutral) 

5000 – 6500K: Bright white (slightly bluish in colour) 

Smart LED lights vary in colour across the white light spectrum. On smart systems you can use different settings for reading, mornings, nights, etc. 

Now that we have armed you with some background in lighting colours, here’s what Chris Oulton from MVP Lighting in Ottawa suggests to help you have functional and stylish lighting in your home. 

In general, lighting can be subjective and really depends on the surrounding decor, finishes, wall colours, etc.  

Bedrooms: Softer and warmer lighting gives a more relaxed feel in the bedroom and generally makes people feel more relaxed. An example of this would be to use a 2700 or 3000 CCT (correlated colour temperature) lamp in your bedroom fixtures to keep the ambience generally more relaxed. Occasionally along with the ceiling fixture, we will see table lamps or wall-sconces beside the bed for reading at night time.

As the local Signify/Philips agent here is a useful explanation: Color temperature defines the color appearance of a white LED. CCT is defined in degrees Kelvin; a warm light is around 2700K, moving to neutral white at around 4000K, and to cool white, at 5000K or more. Note that CCT does not tell you anything about the color rendering ability of the LED. 

In general, preference on desired CCT can be subjective from person to person or even space to space. If you as an end user are unsure, it is always a good idea to get a professional opinion from a local registered interior designer or architect.

Kitchens: We are starting to see a lot of undercabinet LED lighting for visibility and highlighting backsplashes and countertops. Potlights are a popular selection for the general illumination fixture with a few featured pendant style fixtures normally hanging above the island, dining room table (or both) in an open concept.

Kitchen Pro Tip: Ensure your LED undercabinet lighting is diffused with a lens and mounted in a channel where possible. This will avoid individual led diodes reflecting light off of marble or granite surfaces and being visible thus taking away from the classy look of the counter top itself.

Dining Room: Usually there is a featured fixture above the dining room table, these style fixtures can range in both size and budget along with having to match the surrounding decor. These fixtures typically provide enough general illumination for the space.

Bathrooms: Usually we will see lighting surrounding the mirror – either an above mirror vanity fixture or a sconce on either side of the mirror. Potlights are commonly used as the general illumination piece in bathrooms as well as showers (ensure the shower potlight is wet location rated).

Basements: Another popular spot for potlights because they are recessed into the ceiling and out of the way which is good for lower ceiling heights. Specifically if the basement is the “TV” room, you will want to consider ensuring the potlights you select have a regressed LED source as opposed to being flat and flush with the ceiling, this will help to avoid seeing the light reflect off the TV almost constantly after installation.

As for the light bulbs themselves…

Many pieces these days can come with integrated LED which means there are no lamps to change, specifically under cabinet and downlighting. On pendant pieces, you’ll want to ensure the LED lamps (bulbs) you select are decorative and mimic incandescent with a filament look. These bulbs are usually exposed so having a regular LED A19 bulb in a white colour would likely look off in a decorative pendant.

Here are two examples which paint a picture of what I mean.

From a general perspective when it comes to light bulbs, ensure the size is appropriate for the fixture. Some LED lamps are meant to replace smaller wattages and putting a tiny lamp in a larger fixture will look off. Also, make sure if you are unsure about lighting to consult with your electrician for best practise on how to choose, they will often have access to many options and suppliers which will help make your decision easier and don’t forget about your Correlated Colour Temperature.