Our lighting layout for the basement

March 22, 2012

I wanted to share the latest (completed) step in the basement finishing process. We started with figuring out where we wanted walls and then having them framed, and more recently had the lighting done.

Because the basement is kind of a mess of progress right now, and because pictures of lights are pretty much impossible, I’m showing you the placement via the floor plan. It’s a tad be more interesting than horrible pics of ceiling lights.

It won’t seem like it, but I swear it is. ;)

I mentioned before that I wanted TONS of lights down here, and after talking to our electrician, I realized that yes, it may be possible to have too many lights. The guys took me to a basement they had recently completed and I realized we probably don’t need 50 lights in the family room area. ;)

But by the time we were done, I did add a few more here and there. Here’s the layout and an idea of where the lights were installed (those would be the round dots):

basement love[4] 

Almost all were recessed lights – all but five. I mentioned before that I wanted to use some smaller lights – maybe mix up the standard six inch cans with some four or five inch versions.

Well, I didn’t realize how much those smaller lights cost. ;) It was a bit ridiculous, especially considering they are SMALLER, so therefore you’d think they’d cost LESS. Nope.

So, we went with all six inch recessed lights, everywhere. ;)

In the storage room and laundry (the one with hearts), we did one simple overhead light:

I was afraid the one in the laundry wouldn’t be enough, but considering whatever we hang up there will have at least two bulbs, I think it will be OK. And we’ll most likely add a small lamp on a counter or something.

Overall, the bathroom has a crazy amount of lights considering it’s size, but if you’re gonna have too many lights, the bathroom is the place to do it:


There’s a shower light and one at the entrance on one switch, a fan with a light on another and two sconce lights next to where the bathroom mirror will go (on another switch).

Whew. I told you, lots of lights. :)

But the fact that they are operated independently makes them less surface-of-the-sun-ish and more task lighting-ish.

In the family room, most of the lights are recessed. There are a couple on one switch over what will be a fireplace (someday) in the bump out:


And then there are a couple pendant lights roughed in over what will be the bar area (on another switch).

There’s one drop down light over the craft table on yet another switch.

The rest of the (12) lights in the family room and hallway are on three different switches – one for the bank when we come down the stairs, one for the lights in the bulkhead, and one for the rest of the room.


So, in the end it ended up being what I set out for in the beginning. A lot of freakin’ lights. :)

But, they are on a bunch of switches (I have learned I love bunches of switches) and ALL will be on dimmers. I luuurve me some dimmers.

Now that everything is done electrical-wise, I’ve been perusing the lighting aisles at every store I visit. I love these two options for the laundry room:

Whatever we use in there will need to be low profile, and have at least two bulbs. I love both of these, but I’m leaning toward the wider, flatter one.

I dig these pendants for over the bar:


I am leaning toward the cubey one or the one in the middle – it is a bar so we can go a little sleeker in that spot.

I loved these for the sconces in the bathroom:

I like the finish on the last one, but the look (and price) of the middle one, so I may just get those and spray paint them.

Nothing escapes my spray paint trigger finger! Buwahahahahahaaaa.

Last time we talked about lighting, I mentioned I wanted to try to put sconces up elsewhere in the basement, but as I thought about it, I knew they may hinder the furniture arrangement/wall art ideas. So we skipped them.

It’s definitely been a learning process, that is for sure! Trying to do what we want, but staying within a budget takes some give and take. I’ll tell you more about the budget in a future post, but I’m happy to say that overall, the whole basement finishing process will cost WAY less than we thought it would. I have a number I’m trying to stay under and so far so good.

I’m not going to say what that number is yet cause when I say things out loud I tend to jinx them. ;)

Next up, finishing up the rest of the before-drywall stuff (which I’ll post on soon), and then drywall! WHOO!!! So exciting!!

So, which lights would you pick for the laundry, bathroom and bar from up above? My options are still wide open. I will probably purchase and install all of those last, so if you have other ideas, feel free to link to them!

Thanks again for coming along on this process with us!

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  1. You must be happy with so much progress. Looks good and I love your layout. Great work. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Laundry room I prefer #2

    Bar I like #3

    Bathroom I think #1 is my fave.

    Now I need to go pendant shopping too, it's all your fault!!

  3. it's always inspiring to read what you're up to, thanks for sharing! looking forward to what you decide on :)

  4. When building, put in as many lights as possible. You don't have to turn them all on and it's so much cheaper to install them in the building stage. Sconces only give ambient light and do limit furniture placement. Wise choices! ~ Maureen

  5. As someone who lives in a basement, I applaud your decision to just install as many recessed lights as possible. It will make such a big difference. Ours has great lighting and as a result it feels much less "basementy" than it otherwise would. The over-compensation is highly appreciated, and makes it so much more comfortable.

  6. I had to giggle as I read this.. We are at same point with our basement finishing and I am looking at the same semi flush fixture at Lowe's and came to the same conclusion you did with regard to wall sconces anywhere other than flanking the bathroom mirror. Great minds think alike!

  7. In the laundry, choose the one that gives the most light. Choose one that can use high wattage bulbs - not 60w maximum (even if you plan to use cfl) also make sure it uses a standard bulb base. We inherited some lights in our master bath that use a bulb with a plug in base, we have to order them and pay shipping. Choose something fun over the bar - maybe the first one and I like the first sconce, but not sure how much light it would give.

  8. For the laundry room, I would choose the second option. The bar, I would choose the middle option and the bathroom I LOVE those last ones.

  9. Bar #2 - allows you to cover with fabric if you want for the seasons/holidays as opposed to #3 which I love, but could only paint.

    Bathroom #2 Barrel shade for same reasons! And options for change are always good!

    Laundry Room #2 or at LightingDirect.com there's a nice burlap barrel shade (less than 12 inches drop).

    More lights to use at will is a wise idea! I think you're doing a great job and look forward to seeing the progress!

    Guerrina in CT

  10. We are just in the planing stages of finishing or basement. It's great to follow the basement progress on the blog for ideas/inspiration. I'm especially looking forward to the post dedicated on the budget and how you saved money (once it's done, of course, so you don't jinxs it).

  11. I think for the laundry room I would do the 2nd option (the bigger one), the bar area I would choose the middle one (although a friend of mine has the option all the way to the right and it looks so cool - just not my style), and the sconces...I would go with the middle and spray paint if you need to! I think you are smart to be putting all this lighting in the basement. Our basement is unfinished right now, but we will probably start finishing it soon and I am going to totally go light crazy down there! :)

  12. You might want to consider florescent lighting in the laundry room...I have one in mine (with two florescent tubes) and it's way brighter than 2 bulbs....lowe's has a really nice cloud looking cover for the florescents to soften the glow. Love it and would choose this type of lighting for the laundry again if I had it to do over.


  13. We are just finishing up the lighting process. I wanted a pendant somewhere, somehow and figured how to get both recessed and pendant on occasion.


    Isn't this fun!!!!

  14. We're working on finishing our basement right now as well. We have plans drawn up, we purged everything we could and now we're just waiting on quotes from a few trades. We're installing quite a few recessed lights as well. I figure while the ceiling is open it's the best time to do it.
    I'm definitely going to be following your process! I'm on the lookout for nice flushmount lighting fixtures (or semi) as well and it's proving to be a bit of a challenge. Love that chrome (or nickel) pendant you are considering for over the bar.

  15. Awesome process! Can't wait to see it finished and can't wait to see what you plan to do with your "old" laundry room/new mudroom. Haha!

  16. I like the wide flat one for the laundry room, the middle one with the round shade for the bar, and the 2nd & 3rd ones for the bath (you could always change the lamp shade out). You have to go with your heart on the finish of it. It the 2nd lamp will work for you being spray painting and you like the shape then do that. $17 isn't that much of a difference if there going to be up for a long time.

    Liz VanKirk

  17. Funny how lights can be so exciting! My vote is for the wide, squat light in the laundry room, and the cubey one for the bar. Any of the sconces work for me :).

  18. Love the very first light!
    Great blog, thanks for sharing.

  19. Are you in UT, by chance? I'd love some recommendations on your workers. ;)

  20. Whoo, that's a lot of lights! But, in a basement, too many is far better than too few in my books.

    As you were talking about the bathroom, I was cringing just a little... in our old place, there were way too many lights and it was actually a bad thing! The lights were all above the mirror, about 8 of those cheap dressing room style bulbs, all on one switch. They made the tiny room so warm, you would feel feverish, especially on a cold winter morning. We ended up unscrewing half of the light bulbs to tone it down. But, you have your multiple lights on three different switches... such better design!

  21. Just a suggestion,out a pocket door in the storage/wash room

  22. I love lots of lights! Where is your second laundry option from? I'm on the hunt for something exactly like that (and the price) for a room in our basement.

  23. Ferguson Showrooms have some great lighting options that are different then home depot and Lowes!! :-) Your basement is coming together and it looks awesome thanks for sharing

  24. Looks great!
    I recently finished building a house (no basements on the Gulf Coast) and I thought lighting was the hardest task. In fact, we aren't finished! I'm figuring the perfect lights will find me. heehee. Someone up in the comments above me mentioned a fluorescent light for the laundry room. I totally agree!! I fought it, but ultimately gave in to advice and I'm so so glad I did. Those redunkulous fluorescents will show you every little spot on your clothes which is GREAT. After all, the laundry room is the place you want to learn about pesky spots! Also, it's bright enough that there are no shadows. I know that sounds silly, but when you are ironing, you want enough light cast around that you don't have shadows. Sorry for the novel here, but one more suggestion. We had our upper cabinets built higher above the counter than standard because I wanted plenty of room for folding clothes. It's wonderful!!! We put in undercabinet lighting and it is really nice to have - on separate switches of course. We also have an exhaust fan (without an attached light) and it pulls the dryer heat right out. Good grief I blabbed enough!!

  25. I think the low profile wide light for the laundry is GORGEOUS! I like the cubes for the bar(they look like ice which is fitting). Ont he sconces though I'd go with your first picture. Seems like you are having fun picking it all out and it looks like it's coming along nicely. Can't wait to see the finished product. Looks so fun!

  26. My husband and I keep going back and forth on designing our basement.....how do you make that awesome layout? I think that will def help us with getting a final design. ShayR85 at gmail dot com

  27. Tiffany from CanadaMarch 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    You're already getting prepared for drywall? I was wondering what your choice of subfloor was. If you decided to do the strapping and foam insulation or decided to go with a newer product such as Dri-Core or The Barricade flooring panels? Also, what are your thoughts on in-floor heating in the basement?

  28. Quick word about the dimmers...the new energy saving bulbs don't work with them. You have to buy a special kind for those. Not knowing this, I was about to put a multi-light fixture on a dimmer and wne to pick up the bulbs. They were over $30 each!!! Since my fixture needed 6 bulbs, this project was squashed...the fixture isn't even worth that much!

  29. I have the case of the seconds....I love all of the light-fixtures that are in the second place in choice line-up. Btw, I am in love with the second for the laundry room. I need (in a bad way) to replace my lighting in my laundry room (which is also located in my finished basement; I was lucky enough for that to be done before we bought the house!) which store is that? looks like a Lowe's set up. Can't wait to see the completed room.

  30. I love the first, third, and the second among your lighting choices. Can't wait to see the after soon!

    If you're able, can you share who your electrician is? I live in Indy and am in need of a good electrician for new lighting. It sounds like you've had a great experience with the business you hired.

    Thanks very much!


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