Best Installation Practices Based on Room or Outdoor Limitations

When choosing lighting for small or odd-shaped rooms or limited outdoor areas, you must use different practices to apply than in larger, uniform areas. It’s important to know how to select the right light fixtures for the space, factoring in the proportions of the room and its function.

This guide to light installation practices covers how to properly light a small or odd-shaped room, what to do with sloped or vaulted ceilings and how to choose the correct outdoor lighting solutions for ambiance and safety.

Enhancing Small Interior Areas With Lighting

Small interior spaces don’t need to feel tight and unusable. With the right lighting techniques, you can open up small rooms, making them feel more comfortable and relaxing rather than cramped and over-cluttered.

Below are some of the ways to enhance lighting in different small interior areas throughout the home:


Small bedrooms can be difficult to work with when it comes to lighting. Since bedrooms contain multiple furniture pieces, small bedrooms often end up feeling cluttered, which reduces the ability to relax at night and get restful sleep.

With the right lighting, even tiny bedrooms can feel bigger and more relaxing. Recessed lighting in bedrooms is becoming increasingly popular because it makes rooms feel more expansive and casts an even, balanced glow across a room. Having a single overhead light in a small room can make a space feel smaller. Dispersed, recessed lighting balances out the room by adding depth.

In a bedroom of any size, it’s important for lighting to be bright enough to see when getting dressed, making the bed or folding laundry. At the same time, bedroom lighting should be soft and relaxing to encourage rest. Adding a dimmer or installing different sets of lighting can ensure bedrooms can achieve the best of both options.


Bathrooms should feel like sanctuaries and minimize stress-inducing clutter. For small bathrooms or half-baths, create a spacious feel by strategically choosing and positioning light fixtures.

The key in a small bathroom is to blend the fixtures into the surroundings and create clean, seamless lines. Flush mount and recessed fixtures don’t take up additional space but still provide ample illumination.

Another way to amplify light in a small bathroom is to work with the mirror to reflect light and brighten the space. Positioning a recessed light above the mirror or directing track lighting heads toward it casts a bright yet even glow. Alternatively, wall sconce lighting on either side of the mirror can create a well-lit space.

Laundry and Utility Rooms

High-traffic areas used for functional purposes need to be well lit. Laundry or utility rooms are often smaller than desired or can be oddly shaped. Maximizing the lighting in these rooms can make them feel more functional and enjoyable to be in.

Having different lighting options available can improve functionality and make laundry and other tasks easier to perform. Layered lighting, including overhead and under-cabinet lighting, can improve the entire experience of using utility and laundry rooms. The combination of track and recessed lighting can help achieve a layered lighting and broad illumination approach that’s needed for a laundry room to feel more comfortable and useful.


Closets are another small interior space that can benefit from multiple light sources to make them feel more expansive. Walk-in closets typically feel dim, but having ample light in a closet is essential for seeing clothing colors and textures accurately and keeping the space tidy.

Track lighting provides a way to direct lighting in a customized way, such as toward specific focal features, including shelving or cabinets. Recessed lighting also provides a good overhead light source, and having multiple recessed lighting fixtures further adds depth to the small space.

Additionally, under-shelf LED lighting can help create a luxurious feel in a walk-in closet. This type of layered lighting showcases select items in the closet, such as a shoe or handbag collection.


Having well-lit hallways is an important feature of a home that improves livability and safety. It’s important to have plenty of light in a hallway and for the lighting to be strategically positioned.

Light fixtures should be positioned directly in front of hall closets or alcoves to improve visibility and access to these areas. However, lighting should be offset from bedroom doors to prevent directly shining into bedrooms at night when a hallway is in use.

Spacing light fixtures evenly apart can help create more consistency. An alternative to overhead lighting is floor-level recessed lighting, which can be an ideal soft lighting solution for hallways that connect bedrooms.

Lighting Practices for Sloped Ceilings and Odd-Shaped Rooms

Just as there are specific lighting strategies to use in small spaces, there are lighting techniques that help optimize rooms that are oddly shaped or have sloped or vaulted ceilings. Odd-shaped rooms and sloped ceilings create dim corners and can cause rooms to feel smaller. Without the proper lighting, homeowners may misuse rooms or fail to use rooms as much as they could.

The following are some recommended best practices for installing lights in oddly shaped rooms or rooms with sloped ceilings:

1. Illuminate Dim Corners

When rooms aren’t perfectly square or rectangular, the lack of uniformity in shape can trick the eye into believing the room is smaller and darker than it is. Angles and slopes cast shadows in narrower spots, leaving the room feeling dimly or unevenly lit.

When installing lights in an odd-shaped room, it’s important to set the lighting pattern by first finding the most dimly lit corner. Adding an overhead recessed light directly adjacent to this area can help light it up and encourage better use of the space. Alternatively, nooks or crannies can be used as perfect areas to showcase fine pieces of art or a piece of antique furniture. In this case, a combination of uplighting and downlighting can create an even glow.

2. Balance Lighting Across the Room

Since odd-shaped rooms and rooms with slanted ceilings naturally lack uniformity, it’s important to bring a sense of cohesion back to the room, which can be done through lighting.

One option is to install a series of overhead recessed light fixtures. Recessed lighting provides consistent illumination across an entire room. The fixtures are flush with the ceiling, making the space appear larger because there are fewer visual distractions taking up room.

Alternatively, track lighting can help to disperse light throughout the room in a more balanced way. By directing each light in opposing directions across the space, you avoid having too much light at one end of the room and not enough at the other.

3. Focus Lighting Around a Singular Point

Older homes and homes with unique designs often have layouts that present a decorating challenge. To make a room feel cohesive, it’s essential to choose where the focal point will be. From that focal point, decide how lighting will help guide the eye toward the room’s anchor.

For example, when a fireplace is the room’s focal point, use track or recessed lighting to direct light toward the fireplace. Avoid positioning larger furniture in the light’s pathway. Instead, keep bigger pieces toward the perimeter to maximize the amount of lighting the focal point receives.

4. Use Different Lighting for Different Room Segments

Sometimes, an oddly shaped room is better off segmented into two or three sections that serve different purposes or have different design elements. In this case, the lighting approach will be less about ensuring cohesion and balance and more about creating definition through a balance of light and shadow.

Like how light can be used to draw attention to a focal point, lighting techniques can be used to visually separate areas of a room. Using recessed lighting, track lighting or a combination of the two to direct light to different areas of the room to visually segment it.

It’s also possible to play with different types of bulbs with a range of lumens to see how it changes the appearance of the room.

5. Keep Light Fixtures Proportional to the Space

All decor, fixtures and furniture should be proportional to the space they’re in. But when lighting an oddly shaped room, a variety of proportions can be present. In rooms with sloped ceilings and various sharp angles, there may be corners or areas of the room with both high and low ceiling points, meaning it may require several sizes or types of fixtures.

For sections with lower ceilings, recessed or flush-mount lighting are better design choices because they don’t occupy space, creating a sleek look that keeps the area open. For the high points, choose vaulted ceiling lighting, such as pendants and chandeliers, that draw the eye up and show off the vastness of the space.

6. Install Recessed Lighting at the Right Angle

When installing recessed lighting in an oddly shaped room, it’s crucial to know how to fit lighting on sloped ceilings correctly. Knowing how to install flush lighting on a flat ceiling is generally straightforward. However, installing recessed lighting when the ceiling is sloped requires selecting a recessed lighting fixture with the correct angle.

Improperly installing recessed lighting on a sloped ceiling can lead to poorly balanced lighting, defeating the purpose of your approach to illuminating your odd-shaped room. An incorrect installation can also lead to air gaps between the fixture and the ceiling material, causing unnecessary and inefficient heating or cooling loss.

To properly install recessed lighting on a sloped ceiling, first measure the pitch of the ceiling. Once you know the ceiling’s pitch, you can choose angled recessed lighting fixtures that are the appropriate pitch range for your ceiling.

Enhancing Small Outdoor Areas With Lighting

The principles and practices used to light indoor areas can differ significantly from lighting exteriors. When enhancing the lighting of an outdoor space, there are several factors to keep in mind, including aesthetics, safety and security. If the outdoor space is small, there are further techniques to apply to keep the space as open and functional as possible.

Below are some of the top ways to enhance small outdoor spaces with lighting:

1. Use Varied Lighting

Variable lighting instantly adds drama and depth to an outdoor space, making it seem larger and more luxurious. Using a combination of both uplighting and downlighting helps add emphasis to certain focal points and brightens the space evenly to enhance its functionality. Contrasting lighting that creates both silhouettes and spotlights adds a multi-dimensional feel, instantly expanding a smaller space.

A short pathway can be transformed into a dramatic walkway using downlighting or moonlighting. For outdoor patio lighting installations, illuminate the space using outdoor ceiling pendants or flush mount fixtures. Installing a series of architectural lights can help further brighten an outdoor space.

2. Create Balance

In a small outdoor space, try not to overly emphasize one area, as this makes the overall space seem smaller. Use spotlighting strategically on a particular focal area or otherwise focus on creating balanced lighting.

Balanced lighting means a streamlined flow of light across the entire space. There shouldn’t be any abrupt changes in brightness from one side of the space to the other. Applying the principles of layering and transitioning can prevent these dramatic shifts in brightness. Using multiple different lighting sources at different eye levels softens the edges of the outdoor space, extending it beyond its natural boundary.

3. Ensure Sufficient Illumination for Safety

Enjoying an outdoor space means having the peace of mind that it’s safe and secure. Lighting is used to beautify a space and keep it functional at the same time. Lighting ensures nighttime safety, and the more sources of light throughout the space, the better you can maintain visibility.

Identify particularly hazardous areas of the outdoor space, such as stairs, edges, slopes or retaining walls. Use enough light to make people aware of these hazards without overly spotlighting them. Walkway lighting and lighting for hardscapes and masonry illuminate these features with a delicate yet substantial amount of light.

4. Focus on Illumination, Not Fixtures

While indoor light fixtures are often intentionally chosen to draw attention to their design, outdoor lighting is intended to be concealed, subtle and unnoticeable. Choose outdoor lighting fixtures that blend into the surroundings.

Matte black or dark gray outdoor light fixtures don’t reflect light and remain largely unseen at night. During daylight hours, they remain sleek and elegant looking. Additionally, the shape of the light fixture matters. Square, rectangular and uniform designs, such as bollards and post lights, are subtle lighting solutions that don’t draw attention.

Enhance Small Indoor and Outdoor Spaces With WAC Lighting Solutions

With the right lighting practices, it’s possible to enhance small indoor and outdoor areas, making them feel spacious, functional and livable. Using multiple fixtures and layers of lighting adds depth and dimension to smaller spaces. Recessed and flush-mount lighting conserves space, while track lighting helps add focus to key features of the space.

WAC Lighting carries a wide selection of recessed, track, pendant and wall lighting and extensive outdoor lighting solutions for patios, decks and landscapes. Contact us today for expert advice on choosing the right lighting solutions for your project’s small space and to learn more about installation best practices. We look forward to hearing from you!