Just the other week I was discussing the plans for a family/media room with a client. The pride-and-joy of a 70" TV was on the wall, the super comfy sofa invited me to stay all night and they were planning a super bowl party. But the lighting was creating problems, because the recessed lights were glare bombs that showed lots of reflections on the screen.
As a quick and dirty solution we fixed the issue with dimmers and added floor and table lamps to balance the lighting in the room and give the recessed lights a break. Later we'll make more extensive changes to fix the issue completely. This space had previously primarily been used as a playroom and storage and it was not until it was converted into a wonderful family space that the lighting and glare became an issue.
So how do you light the room comfortably without creating glare?
1. Create layers of light by using as many different light sources as you can. Don't let the light come from just one direction (the ceiling.) 2. Use dimmers! The exclamation mark is because I'd otherwise like to repeat this 10 times. Dimmers give you control! 3. Position recessed lights and track lighting spots so the beams will not hit the TV screen. Sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised! 4. Cove lighting and other forms of indirect lighting is great. Get creative with rope or tape lighting. It doesn't have to break the bank. 5. Add shaded table-and floor lamps for atmosphere. They give extra definition to the room.
Recessed lights are wonderful and a very practical and straightforward way to light a multi-purpose space. The lamps (bulbs) are, however, unshielded and often right at the surface of the ceiling, which depending on the placement of the fixtures in the ceiling can cause reflections and glare. Ideally you want to position your recessed light so that they are not right over your seating arrangements or too close to the wall the TV is on or up against. You don't want "scallops" on the wall above the TV.