Is Recessed Lighting Outdated? (Plus Added Value & Costs)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Once upon a time, back in the 1960s, recessed lighting was used as a way to show that a home was futuristic. It was a feature on many major Hollywood sets, and to a point, one could argue that it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. By the 1990s, recessed lighting was found in any home that wanted to add a modern appeal. The trend kept going strong. And nowadays, it’s still fairly popular. But, is it nearing its end?

Recessed lighting is not going out of style, and you can keep it contemporary with a modern finish. You can choose between several finishes to complement your recessed lighting and match or contrast your walls and ceiling. The expansive coverage of recessed lighting pairs well with modern open concept homes and is in style.

To fully understand the power that recessed lighting can hold in the design world, we decided to take a look at how people use it and why it’s not going to go out of style any time soon. Here’s the scoop on the design trend that proved to be a mainstream mainstay.

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Why Is Recessed Lighting So Popular?

The very simple answer to this is that recessed lighting has a clean look that allows people to focus on the room’s interior decoration rather than the lighting fixture. Other lighting styles, such as chandeliers or wall sconces, won’t have that kind of ability. Moreover, recessed lighting also saves space while producing a nice, even distribution of light.

Changing around your light’s ambiance is very easy when you have recessed lighting. All you have to do is change the color of the bulbs, or switch up the finishes. This makes it a remarkably easy to work with lighting fixture, especially when compared to easily-dated options like Tiffany lamps.

Does Recessed Lighting Work With Every Home Style?

Though I’m very cautious about making blanket statements, I’ll put this as a tentative yes. Here’s how recessed lighting can work with a wide range of different styles:

  • Antique. Antique and Victorian homes can use recessed lighting to highlight special display items and to add a subtle modern twist to classic architecture.
  • Historic. Though historic homes can be a pain when it comes to installing this type of lighting, we’d be lying if we said it didn’t have a great way of highlighting the architecture of these homes. Recessed lighting is great for bringing out subtle architectural features like crown molding.
  • Contemporary. Recessed lighting is great for brightening up kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms without making them look too stark.
  • Midcentury Modern. Considering that this style of lighting is made to bring out the organic yet futuristic curves of midcentury modern homes, it’s safe to say that it works well with it.
  • Modern. Hyper modern homes with an almost stark look do well with recessed lighting, since it further removes “clutter” from the room’s appearance.
  • Rustic. The bright, open lighting of recessed lights works well on warm tones like the ones you may find in wood and fur. It also helps bring a sophisticated look to an otherwise overly-rustic place, making it ideal for people who go for the extra rugged looks.

Is Recessed Lighting Expensive?

Compared to most other types of lighting, many people would consider recessed lighting to be somewhat expensive. Every fixture will cost around $100 to $200 a pop, including the wiring and construction. Most rooms will need to have multiple light fixtures (usually around six to 10) in order to be fully lit. Some may even require more than 10 to make that magic happen.

Depending on the size of your room and the way that you’re using the recessed lights, you might be looking at a bill that’s anywhere from $600 to $1800 for a lighting setup. That being said, it’s an investment that will pay off for years to come due to its perennially trendy and stylish look.

Does Recessed Lighting Add Value To A House?

In most cases, adding recessed lighting to your rooms will add a small amount of value to your home. This is because recessed lighting tends to be brighter and more modern, which in turn, makes your home look more updated. The bright lighting also adds ambiance to your home, making it a far more welcoming place for buyers.

Though it’s safe to say that recessed lighting does add value to a house, how much value it can add is up for debate. So while you can expect it to add at least a couple hundred dollars to the overall value of your home, there’s no set in stone amount that you should expect it to work for you.

How To Update Older Recessed Lighting

If you have recessed lighting that doesn’t quite match the decorations you have around your home, you might be tempted to think that your lighting is outdated. The truth is that the recessed lighting concept isn’t, but how you might be displaying it could be. Here’s how you can give your recessed lighting a much-needed refresher:

  • Change the color or the warmth of the bulbs. The easiest way to make your lighting feel new again is to change your bulb’s colors. Different bulbs will have different grades of warmth, and sometimes, adding cooler lighting can help you make more modern. If you want a more welcoming tone, go for a warmer bulb. Not sure what’d work? Get smart bulbs and install them in the lighting. This will allow you to make the most of your colors and change them as you see fit.
  • Update your fixtures. Recessed lighting is not a “one fixture style” deal. If you want to breathe new life into your architecture, switch out older fixtures for a cleaner look. Though this might sound pricey, the truth is that it’s a lot cheaper than a full lighting redo.
  • Consider changing up the way your lights work. If you want to add more drama to your room, use a single recessed light to highlight a unique piece of decor. If you want to add more flair, consider mixing the hues of the lightbulbs together to give your home a surreal look.
  • Match your lighting to the decorations around you. Does your lighting look like it “juts out” from the ceiling due to the way it clashes with the decoration’s metals? Match the metals to your lighting fixture, or vice versa. This will give you the elegant, matchy look that makes interior design look slick.

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Related Questions

Why is recessed lighting so expensive?

Recessed lighting is expensive because you need many of them to light a large space and the installation is complicated. You need to drill homes in the ceiling to install recessed lighting, and that adds to labor costs. Wiring and electrical work also can be expensive when you install recessed lights where there were none before.

Does recessed lighting increase home value?

You can increase your home value if you install recessed lighting. Carefully place the recessed lights to achieve even coverage and avoid the “cave effect”. Install enough lights that the rooms are evenly lit and the walls aren’t left in the dark to add value to your home.

Our Final Take

In the past, there have been dozens of trends involving lighting that was described as permanently trendy, but none of them have the staying power of recessed lighting. Ever since it came onto the home improvement scene, recessed lighting gave homeowners a new way to show off their home decorating prowess and keep things beautifully lit.

Recessed lighting is one of the best ways to make sure that your home looks stylish regardless of the type of decorations you have, and also works wonders when it comes to keeping your home brightly lit. In other words, getting this type of lighting is going to be an amazing improvement for your home, no matter how you look at it.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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