Are Recessed Lights Out of Style?

June 23, 2022


Almost everything that goes out of style eventually finds itself back in fashion.

There may be a few exceptions to the rule, but it’s hard to find much in the way of clothes, shoes, interior design, architecture or pop culture that doesn’t experience a revival.

So is recessed lighting out of style, or just going through some changes as it prepares for a comeback?

The question is being asked because recessed lighting became stylish in the 1970s and it was sometimes misused, so it’s only a natural part of the cycle to declare it outdated.

However, many will argue that recessed lighting has never gone out of style and isn’t likely to.

Why Use Recessed Lighting?

The reason for having lights recessed into your ceiling means there are no fixtures hanging down from above.

If you have a ceiling fan, it’s not competing for space with light fixtures. They are particularly suited to homes with low ceilings.

Recessed lighting can also be used in walls, benches and even on the floor or ground.

So here are the main reasons recessed lighting is not going out of style:

  • Maximise your space - Whatever plans you have for your rooms, with recessed lighting you know there’s nothing getting in your way.
  • Focus on the light - Recessed lighting is not meant to draw attention to itself. It puts the focus on the light rather than the fixture.
  • Even distribution of light - As long as lights are placed strategically, they will deliver an even distribution of light.
  • They are changeable - The finish may go out of style but you can change the look of recessed lights easily, whether it’s the colour or style of the trim or the type of lamp (or bulb).
  • Change the temperature - Bulbs have different light temperatures and deliver different types of light. The temperature you decide to use will have a big impact on the look of the room.
  • Get smart - Recessed lighting is compatible with smart lighting. Simply download an app on your smartphone and set them on a timer or control them manually.

Create a wash of light

There are a number of other benefits to using recessed lights.

When the light is evenly dispersed throughout the room, you achieve a wall washing effect. The higher the ceiling, the more impact it will have on whatever space you are lighting.

On the other hand, you can also direct the light towards specific objects in the room, if that is your purpose.

And recessed lights can be used with a dimmer to instantly change the mood of the room.

Components of Recessed Lighting

There are three main components to recessed lighting fixtures - the housing, the trim and the lamp.

  1. Housing: The housing refers to the physical component that is recessed into the ceiling, wall or ground. It houses the light source and all of the necessary electrical parts.
  2. Trim: The trim is the part of a recessed light that is visible. It’s a decorative moulding that shields the opening of the recessed light. This is what gives the fixture its overall look and can be used to direct the beam of light.
  3. Lamp: The lamp can vary based on the type of recessed light you have - from a focused halogen bulb to a wider, flood-style lamp. With LED retrofit trims, the lamp is integrated into the trim.

Are recessed lights difficult to install?

Recessed lights are not tricky to install for a professional, but home designers need to plan ahead, measure carefully and take their time with instructions.

It’s a task that might be better suited to a qualified electrician, but if you are comfortable with running wires between ceiling joists - or wherever the lights are being installed - then it could be a DIY challenge worth taking on.

It can also be difficult to position the lights correctly to achieve your desired effect unless you are working with an experienced interior designer.

What are the alternatives?

Regardless of the versatility of recessed lighting, there is a certain level of maintenance that goes with it.

Some regard recessed lights as tricky and expensive to install. There can also be issues of heat buildup and the need for ventilation above the ceiling.

Besides, some people may want to bring attention to their light fittings, particularly when it comes to pendant lighting, decorative lamps and chandeliers.

Then there are less intrusive styles such as track lighting, wall lights and LED light strips, which are modern and versatile.

Get the LED Out

Certainly the classic versions of recessed lights are outdated and out of style, which is not surprising.

But incandescent lighting has been replaced by LED lights, which are designed better for recessed use.

There is always going to be an issue with heat coming from a semiconductor, but most of the new LED lamps are designed so the heat vents off faster.

If ventilation is used to move air around and minimise heat build-up, then recessed lighting becomes even more modern and desirable.

Add Value to Your Home

Perhaps one of the bigger benefits of recessed lighting is the value it can add to your home.

Installing recessed lighting in your home takes planning and can be an extra expense, but it shows the special care you have put into interior design.

Once the work has been done it becomes a major selling point should you decide to put your home on the market.


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