Let there be Light! All things Lighting Design

Did you know that Thomas Edison did not invent the lightbulb? The first light bulb was invented by Warren de la Rue in the 1840s. De la Rue used a platinum filament which, I’m sure you can imagine, was quite costly. Edison’s light bulb used a cotton filament instead. Much more affordable!

Thomas Edison simply perfected the invention and patented the screw base. 

I didn’t know this, but I recently found out while watching a great film from 2017 called The Current War. 

It takes place in the 1880s and it’s the story of the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse as they battled to determine which electrical power delivery system (Direct Current/DC or Alternating Current/AC) would be used throughout the U.S. to power our homes.

In the end, Westinghouse’s plan won out and our homes are now wired with Alternating Current/AC. 

But it all started with a simple invention… the lightbulb. 

Since then, we’ve been making light bulbs better and better and better. We’ve gone from…

  • Incandescent to
  • Halogen to
  • Fluorescent and now to
  • LED (Light-emitting diode)

Lightbulbs are really fascinating. The history of lightbulbs, the different types of lightbulbs, and how we continue to improve on them over time. Today’s light bulbs expend far less heat and energy than ever before. This is great for our environment (and our wallets). 

It might not sound like it, but I promise you – you need to know solid lighting design. And understanding the basics of light bulbs is key! 

When choosing a light bulb, it’s important to read the info on the bulb, they don’t always give you the info you need. Read those lighting facts! They’re crucial.

But choosing light bulbs is far more technical than you might think. It’s not just about watts anymore. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with some new terms (or at least terms you haven’t heard since high school), in order to choose the best (and most energy-efficient) bulbs for the space you’re designing.

These are the 4 most important things to consider when choosing lighting for a design:

Lumens (lm)

Lumens measure how much light you get from a light bulb. The more lumens you have, the brighter a light. The fewer lumens, the dimmer the light.

Kelvin (K)

Kelvin is a measurement of temperature. In the International System of Units (SI), a kelvin is the base unit of temperature.

Wattage (W)

A watt is a measure of power. Wattage is a measure of electrical power expressed in watts. 

Color Rendering Index (CRI) 

CRI measures how a light source shows an object’s color naturally. A CRI of 100 will show the true color of an object. Incandescent and halogen light sources have a CRI of 100. Typically, light sources with a CRI of 80-to-90 are considered good and those with a CRI of 90+ are considered to be excellent.


Creating a solid lighting design for a space doesn’t end with knowing and choosing the best light bulbs. There’s so much more! You also need to know your lighting specifications, the layered lighting approach, and the elements of good lighting design.

Interested in learning more about lighting design? Lucky for you next month’s focus in The Kitchen & Bath Design Academy Membership is technical lighting design for kitchens and bathrooms.

For all you need to know about lighting design head right here. You can join my membership group or purchase the stand-alone course as soon as it launches!  

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