Lighting a Timber Frame – Thoughts and Practice

Lighting a timber frame house is a bit more challenging than lighting an ordinary one.  In the interiors of a timber frame, you can actually see the timber beams and posts on the ceilings and walls.  These are exposed on purpose, and if lighted properly they can look very pretty indeed.  However, the fact that they’re exposed poses a lot of challenges for lighting designers, because they will have to take these exposed structural bits into consideration.  Timber-framed homes usually need more complicated lighting than normal ones, but if lighting correctly then this will actually make your house even more unique and wonderful to look at.

There are many ways to light these types of homes, and it really depends on what the homeowner wants the lighting effect to look like.  Normally, timber frame houses contain chandeliers, can lights, and wall washers.  The design of the chandeliers can be chosen to complement the design of the house because there are many chandelier designs available in the market.  Paying attention to the construction details like this is important in getting the overall look of the house right.  For important rooms like the kitchen, under-cabinet lights using low voltage halogen lamps can be used to illuminate the food preparation counters.  The lighting designer should ensure that there’s adequate light especially in the functional areas of the house.

For the living room, sconces can be attached to the walls in order to provide more light.  These sconces are very elegant-looking and quite unique, so they will add even more to the uniqueness of your home.  Beautiful lamps can also be placed on the side tables to further light up the area.  Again, dramatic-looking chandeliers can be used here, depending on what the homeowner envisions the house to look like.  The color of the lighting should depend on the owner as well, because white light will have a different look from yellow light, and it’s basically a matter of personal taste and functionality.  White light, for instance, will be more suited for study rooms.  Track lights are also commonly used in lighting a timber frame house kit.  Because there are many beams in the structure of timber frame houses the track lights can be placed here and put to very good use.

Over the past couple of years, there has been an exciting new development that is perfect for timber frames using SIPs.  They are now making low-profile LED can lights.  They are about 3-4 inches thick and can easily be mounted to the ceiling by cutting a hole and taking out a little foam.  If it is over your kitchen then a small built-up floor over the ceiling with allow them to be used under a timber frame loft area.

All in all, lighting a timber frame house is not as hard as it looks.  All you need is a strong idea in your head of what you want your house to look like.  You can then consult with lighting design experts on how to best apply this to your home.  In this case, it’s really important to consult with experts because a timber frame house is not just an ordinary house that you can light up using ordinary lights.  There are a lot of things to consider, and a lot of special structural characteristics that can only be found in timber frame houses.  Lighting a timber frame house properly can make it even more beautiful and unique, but lighting it shabbily can also potentially make it look disastrous.  It’s important to make sure that you really think your lighting decisions through.

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4 thoughts on “Lighting a Timber Frame – Thoughts and Practice”

  1. I think that the correct lighting inside and outside is like the icing on the cake… Get it wrong and you will likely have an expensive fix on your hands. Best to get some professional help when choosing lighting.

  2. I agree completely. They know the different lighting fixtures that are on the market and can help move you in the best direction for your project.

  3. We are considering buying a timber frame home that has inadequate lighting. How challenging is it to retrofit the lighting in a timber frame home?

  4. Hate to say it depends, but it depends. If you can tap into the existing wires then you have it easy with the low voltage LED lighting that is available. If you have to run additional wires up to the timbers it may get tricky. The biggest positive you have going for you it the low profile LED lighting that out there. In most frames, in the US the wall system lies on the outside of the structure. If that is the case for you then sometimes you can cut the drywall away and run the wires up a small gap that may form. Check out the wall framing detail at

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