3 Expert Tips To Choose Recessed Lighting Trims & Retrofits

Recessed lighting is a great way to add some direct or subtle mood lighting. It doesn't take up additional floor or table space like a lamp would. It also doesn't draw too much attention to itself, making this type of lighting perfect for a wide variety of home styles. Below we'll cover the types, materials and finishes in recessed lighting trims & retrofits so you can choose the best option for your situation.

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1. How to choose the best trim types of recessed lighting trims & retrofits? 

The first consideration in recessed lighting is what type you should get, also sometimes referred to as the trim style. You have several main options, each with their own benefits:

  • Baffle trim: This type of recessed light has grooves set into it, which are meant to block excess light. This reduces glare and shadows, so choose this type for a pure and soft ambient light. Black baffles can reduce the glare further but choose white if you want the light fixture to match a lightly colored surrounding ceiling. 

  • Reflector trim: These are made with extra sheen surrounding the bulb so that the fixture itself reflects more light into the space. If you want a brighter light, reflector trims are a solid choice.

  • Adjustable trim: If you're looking to adjust recessed lighting trims & retrofits to create accent lighting or spotlighting, you'll want an adjustable trim. Terms to look for in adjustable lighting include eyelid, gimbal ring, adjustable cone, eyeball and wall wash. 

  • Wet location or lens: This type of recessed lighting provides bulb and light casing protection from moisture and humidity. This may be a must if you're placing your recessed lighting in moist areas like a bathroom. It's common to see the terms damp listed or wet listed to indicate how much the lighting fixture is protected from moisture.

Black and White Baffle Recessed Trim
Rose Gold Baffle Recessed Trim
Glass Reflector Recessed Trim
Reflector Recessed Trim in Copper
Black Adjustable Recessed Trim
White Adjustable Eyeball Recessed Trim

2. Which materials are best in recessed lighting trims & retrofits? 

You also have two main materials to choose from, each of which helps give a certain design aesthetic and comes with certain benefits.

  • Plastic: Plastic, usually of polycarbonate, is a very common lighting fixture material. A basic plastic can work well in casual spaces. However, there are ornamented plastic styles for more regal or upper-class looks. Dark-colored plastics give a modern and sleek look. Because the recessed lighting is way up in the ceiling, it will be hard to notice that the lighting is even plastic. Plastic is also a good way to keep the cost lower.

  • Metal: Metals can give an austere look that is great in modern or industrial spaces. Steel is a very common material to find for its durability, as is aluminum because of how lightweight it is.

Metal LED Retrofit Recessed Lighting Kit
Square Plastic Adjustable Recessed Trim
Metal Retrofit Recessed Lighting Kit
Black Metal Adjustable Recessed Trim
Metal and Aluminum Recessed Trim
White Plastic LED Retrofit Recessed Lighting Kit

3. How to choose the type of finish in recessed lighting trims & retrofits? 

Another key consideration is the type of finish the lighting has. This feature defines the overall aesthetic of the lighting fixture and can help add useful accents to certain design goals. Some of the most common finishes on recessed lighting trims & retrofits include:

  • Oil rubbed bronze: This dark and matte finish looks great in a wide variety of styles. It goes well in regal styles due to its deep color and dark texture. It can work in classic spaces, but also modern spaces if the overall light fixture has a sleek design. 

  • Black matte: This common finish looks best in modern spaces that make use of sleek, dark fixtures.

  • Gold: For a shimmering, high-class look, choose a gold fixture with a high sheen to it. Often, the inside of the light may be black to reduce glare.

Adjustable Recessed Trim in Bronze
Eyeball Recessed Trim in Antique Bronze
Open Recessed Trim in Oil-Rubbed Bronze
Recessed Trim in Oil-Rubbed Bronze
Reflector Recessed Trim in Gold
LED Edge Recessed Button Light Trim in Black
  • White: Solid white is a common look for a recessed light. This look works in just about any style, as it can often blend it with lightly colored ceilings. For a stark, modern look, consider a white exterior with an inner black color around the bulb. 

  • Glossy metal: If you're going for an industrial look, consider any type of metal that has a high-gloss finish to it. Choices include chrome, copper or solid steel. 

  • Brushed nickel: This type of metal has a brushed texture to it, like the name implies, as well as a slightly matte appearance. Choose this for rustic, period or industrial looks that make use of classic textures like brushed appearances.

Eyeball Recessed Trim in White
Round Recessed Trim in White
Adjustable Reflector Recessed Trim in White
Eyeball Recessed Trim in Brushed Nickel
Freedom Baffle Trim in Brushed Nickel
Shower Recessed Trim in Brushed Nickel
  • Crystal: For the most regal of designs and the highest of sheen, choose a crystal finish. Some are molded to look quite abstract, making this finish potentially great for artsy rooms, as well.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.