How High Should Wall Lights Be?

Cindy Barganier Interiors / architecture and design  / How High Should Wall Lights Be?

How High Should Wall Lights Be?

There are so many questions that have to be answered in the construction of a new home. Important questions. It can become overwhelming.

One category that causes great confusion is the placement of wall lights.

Here are some general guidelines:

For standard wall lights the junction box placement should be @ 5’6″ above finished floor (AFF)

Swing arm lamps near sofas should be @ 42″ AFF

Above bookshelves lights are placed just above the trim at top of top shelf.

Above a mantle the junction box should be 15-18″¬†above the shelf, unless you have very tall ceilings and a very large painting; then you adjust accordingly.

Above beds:

21″ above top of mattress or 42″ from floor if standard 21″ mattress

45″ from floor if 24″ mattress

48″ from floor if 27″ mattress

Some beds today are extremely tall- mine is 40″ so lights by my bed would need to be mounted at 60″.

Buy your mattress before you place your lights!

In alcove settings like the one pictured you have to “tweak” to make sure guests don’t hit their heads on the fixtures.

I find that once you hit 10′ ceilings you sometimes have to stop and reconsider so that they don’t look too low but in bathrooms the danger is that you get the light source too high and the face is thrown into shadow.

It’s just a little bit tricky.

If you need someone to handle these questions and you want to say, “That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at


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