Please help me light a low ceiling conditioned attic

ontariomomAugust 18, 2013

Hi everyone,

We are finishing up the electrical rough in. We have an attic dormer in our house that has variable height ceilings. There are places where the ceilings are around 5 foot 10 inches and other spots much lower. This area is to be used as the kids' hideout area and it is accessed via a ship's ladder.

We had initially thought about using insulated pots, but that is posing a problem with insulating sufficiently (we are in Canada and room is north facing). We will be using rigid insulation between the rafters to insulate so the cans will take a chunk of space and R value out.

Can we explore any other options? I thought about wall washers on the knee walls, and perhaps some wall sconces for of the relatively higher ceiling areas. Perhaps we could explore strip lighting maybe around the windows (not sure could be tacky). Below is a rather dark picture of the unfinished area and a basic floor plan. On the side opposite the window there is a few more higher ceiling areas (around 5 and a half feet). The room measures about 18 feet by 13 feet. Here's hoping you have some ideas.


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Cove / wall wash lighting could be the best option.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Hi David,

Thanks for your help! Forgive me if these questions are stupid. From cove lighting, I understand that to mean lighting the corners where walls and ceilings meet in a standard rectangular room. How does that work in a sloped ceiling room? As per wall wash lighting, do you mean those wall washers you sometimes see a foot of so up from the wall in a hallway or staircase?

I just went up there and there is 5 and a half feet or more all along the bottom wall of the floor plan and at least 2 feet on each of the side walls. I believe that bottom wall (opposite windows) and the two walls have room for sconce lighting. Would you add these?

Has anyone every tried strip lighting around an interior window. This is kids space, so I don't mind it looking cool/funky but not tacky from the outside.

This is really tricky for us to plan out and the electrician only suggested pots lights.



    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Cove lighting is a form of indirect lighting where the sources are hidden from view. They are typically placed at the junction of the wall/ ceiling (could be flat, vaulted or sloped) and hidden using crown molding.

Wall washing could be implemented either from the bottom or top as hidden indirect lighting as well.

Lighting on the inside of an interior window would make it difficult to see anything outside when the outside is dark.

Most indirect lighting requires more planning than standard pot lights. In this situation, one could treat the space as the interior of a 737/ 777/ ... and deploy a similar lighting style.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:12AM
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Thanks david for your help and explanation,. I like the idea of cove lights where sloped ceiling meets short walls hidden behind crown. We could consider doing colour. We could shine the light upwards and perhaps it would make the ceiling look a little higher. I hadn't realized light around a window would make it hard to see out of. Treating it like a 737 (airplane) sounds creative. I would like to do something cool with the lighting as it is a kids' place.

Your assistance is valuable to us lighting newbies, David.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Hi again Davidtay,

Do you think if we install four scone lights (2 on the bottom wall, one on closet wall and one on wall opposite closet) where the walls are high enough and the cove lighting where sloped ceiling meets wall all around room we will have enough ambient light for the room??. All of the spots for the sconces are on the half of the room opposite the windows. I am not anxious to have lamps in that room.

If you don't think the lighting will be sufficient with the 4 sconces in one half of the room and cove lighting, what can we add to augment? Also, which kind of Pegasus product would you suggest for the cove lighting? Finally, do you have any tricks when installing the crown molding to ensure you have enough room for the lights? My DH knows how to install crown, but he has never put lights behind them and he wondered how to do that.

Sorry for so many questions, but I really want to get this room roughed in electrically so we can insulate.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 10:31PM
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If we do cove all around room where ceiling hits wall, that will mean we are going over the top of the triangular window run. I know you said that lighting around windows could blacken the window at night, will it be okay if the cove lights are up lights and the rope light is just on top of the windows and not under? Finally, we may need to choose to put rope lights behind the window trim on the window wall rather than crown as there would only be room for one kind of trim. Is that okay.?

I am really pumped about your lighting idea. I just need to be sure I've understood all the ins and outs.

With appreciation,


    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 10:38PM
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If you use tape lighting, the crown molding can be low profile. The window could be left unlit or the top lit up as you described.

If cove lighting is the primary source, you'd need to figure out the power draw, number of power supplies, ... just like for a large low voltage UCL install.

The following link should provide some inspiration for the crown molding.

Here is a link that might be useful: cove lighting kit

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Light panels are another possibility for example

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Thanks, David. You are awesome!

Okay, I think I have my plan. Please double check to see if you agree:

1)Four sconce lights (2 on back wall opposite window, 1 on closet wall and one opposite closet wall)

2)Cove lighting all around where ceiling meets short walls. Consider if we want to stop this over windows or put cove light over the window frame. If we do put it over the window frame, how can this be done?

3)Put transformer for low voltage cove in HVAC closet. Consult with electrician to see how many power supplies we need.

4)consider adding two light panels one on each short wall side adjacent to the window wall. Is this the best spot for them?

5)Remove the four pot lights that are roughed in.

Thanks again and let me know if you change anything listed above.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 2:27PM
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If you intend to do cove lighting + panels, the pot lights and sconces can go.

It's more a style and cost issue than technical.

I would just do cove.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 2:33PM
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