we hate them. a lot.
can lights provide harsh and unflattering down lighting wherever they are used- lighting that would be much prettier if replaced with the ambient lighting of a chandelier, pendant, wall sconce, floor lamp or table lamp (or preferably combinations of all the above). in fact, combinations of the above will provide more then enough lighting in almost any room, so why use recessed lights? the only place can lighting is ever even necessary (in m21's opinion) is the kitchen where bright, direct light (not ambient) is sometimes needed- even then, other light sources should be included: pendants, sconces, under counter, etc. m21 thinks a can light is occasionally ok in a bathroom; and if you own a picasso, maison21 will generously permit you the discreet use of a directional recessed light to highlight your masterpiece- but other then those exceptions, m21 says kick the can!
now please don't take this post personally if you already have recessed lighting in your home- most of us do- and don't call out a plasterer because your favorite style dictator m21 said so! we are mainly addressing this issue to remodels and new construction, where we find ceilings are often so riddled with recessed fixtures that they end up looking like swiss cheese. yuck.
the swiss cheese of which we speak. we ran across this picture somewhere on the internets, and decor issues aside, we we're shocked by 22 visible ceiling lights in the photo, yet nary a table or floor lamp, nor chandelier or pendent in sight. just two lonely sconces to provide ambient lighting. m21 imagines that being in this home at night would be oppressive, not to mention the impossibility of simply sitting in chair and browsing through a magazine. no good.
we aren't sure why architects include so many recessed lights in new construction plans, perhaps they just think their clients expect them. we DO know why contractors include them in home remodels- they are inexpensive to purchase and install, so a generous mark-up can be passed on to the homeowner. multiply that mark-up by as many as a dozen in a single room, and the profit is pretty nice (and every contractor reading this blog, is making a m21 voodoo doll right now). in fact, when maison21 is involved in the planning stages of a construction project, the first thing he'll do is x out all the unnecessary can lights on the blueprints- hopefully justifying the added expense of bringing in a designer at the early stages of the project! of course, m21 will probably immediately use up the savings by adding j-boxes for extra ceiling fixtures and wall sconces, as well as floor outlets for table and floor lamps (nothing worse then lighting the edges of a room but not the central seating areas)- but hey, those kinds of pretty and appropriate additions, are why you bring in a designer in the first place!
now if you don't believe m21 about recessed ceiling lights being verboten, try this simple test: open up the latest issue of elle decor or house beautiful magazines, and count the number of recessed lights shown in rooms that aren't kitchens. you won't get very high in your count- try it!
so what are your thoughts on the usefulness of recessed lighting? kick the can? or should m21 have more of a 'can do' attitude?