Did you know that interior lighting can affect your mood, emotions and overall well being? Indoor lighting isn’t just an aesthetic decorating decision. It’s a pivotal step in creating a comfortable mood inside your home. Excessive lighting can make it difficult to sleep, while inadequate lighting can make it impossible to study or work on a task, for example. Creating the right balance of light in your home can have wonderful effects on your everyday life.
Since lighting involves electricity, changing your lighting set-up requires more thought and consideration than changing your sofa. You may wish to consult a lighting professional before making any key decisions on your own.
To give you an overview, we’ll go over the key types of lighting found in most homes, the different types of lighting fixtures, what lightbulbs to know about, how to pick the right lighting by room, and some other optional lighting controls in this home lighting guide.
Types of Lighting
There are three main types of artificial lighting to know about when you start to think about lighting in your home. Be sure to get a good look at your space during the day when the sun is shining to observe any natural lighting that helps brighten the space. This will help determine which parts of your room need the extra lighting help.
- Ambient Lighting: Ambient or general lighting is soft, overhead type of lighting that helps illuminate a broad, open space.
- Task Lighting: Task lighting is targeted lighting that is directed on a tabletop surface, often a desk or countertop. Work that requires close-up light such as cooking, sewing, writing and crafting.
- Accent Lighting: Accent lighting is local lighting that could be focused in one area of your home. It’s broader than task lighting, but less widespread than ambient lighting. Accent lighting could highlight one area or object in the room. It can add easily add drama and interest, so use accent lighting sparingly!
Lighting Fixture Types
Recessed lighting is lighting that is recessed into the home ceiling so it does not stick out. It provides overhead lighting that isn’t directly visible from anywhere that isn’t right beneath the recessed light. The light is directed downwards so it works best in kitchens and entryways.
Surface lighting is any light fixture that is attached to the wall or ceiling, and sticks out from the surface. Sconces and track lighting are two examples of surface lighting. Surface lights are usually flush against the wall or ceiling that holds them.
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Pendant lighting, or pendants, are lighting fixtures that hang from the ceiling, often above a surface like a kitchen counter or dining room table, but not always. They are often found in the entryway, too! Chandeliers are an example of pendant lighting. These fixtures require a cord, cable or chain to hold them in place. They tend to work best in rooms with relatively higher ceilings.
Table lamps, floor lamps, and other smaller mobile light fixtures fall into this category. This type of lighting is plugging into the wall through an electrical outlet, making them easy to install. A key feature of most lamps is that they are portable. Lamps are versatile lighting choices which can be moved around as needed.
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Most indoor lighting will require either LED or CFL bulbs. You can save money on electricity by ensuring the bulbs are dimmable.
Color temperature is what determines the color appearance of a white LED bulb. A warmer, orange light is around 2700 degrees Kelvin, a neutral white light is 4000K, and a cool, bluer white is at 5000K or more.
Here are the lighting temperatures we recommend:
- Warm Light: Best for cozy spaces like the bedroom and living room
- Neutral Light: Best for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry room and areas where you need to focus
- Cool Light: Best for task lighting in the office, bathroom mirror lighting, and kitchen countertop lighting
Lighting by Room
Most rooms will have a mix of the three types of lighting we mentioned earlier: ambient, task, and accent. Not all three are necessary for every room, though. Here are some tips for lighting design in each room of your house.
The entryway is the first place you see when walking in the door at night, and the last place you step through as you leave for the day. For that reason, entryways should be very well-lit. A pendant or chandelier is a great ambient lighting source to illuminate the space from above. A table lamp could help you find your keys on the console table. Lastly, make sure your light switches are easily accessible so you don’t have to feel around in the dark too much to find them.
Many families spend quality time in the living room – whether watching TV or playing board games, the living room needs several lighting sources depending on your needs at the time. Recessed lighting works great in the living room – especially if you have kids. Since things can get rough if someone decides to toss a ball for example, I wouldn’t recommend hanging an expensive chandelier or pendant in the living room! If you do, ensure your ceilings are on the high side.
Floor lamps and table lamps are also great lighting options to have in your living room if you just want a little bit of targeted light in one area, like a darker corner. Sconces look great on either side of a fireplace mantel. Our last tip is to be sure that there isn’t a glare on your TV while installing lights in the living room!
Kitchen lighting is particularly important if you cook often or like to host guests. Kitchens have become a central part of the family home and thus deserve special attention when it comes to lighting.
Many kitchens have multiple light sources to ensure that every nook and cranny is properly illuminated as needed. I would start off by choosing several ambient light sources, probably in the form of pendant lights or recessed lighting. Under-cabinet lights can provide a form of task lighting when preparing meals.
Lighting the dining room is somewhat easier than most rooms as you simply need to ensure that the dining room table is adequately lit. Most people choose to hang a pendant or chandelier in the dining room to create an ambient lighting source. The pendant should hang directly at the center above your dining room table.
If you intend to place food on your buffet, then consider adding a form of task lighting to ensure people can see what you’re displaying.
Stairs should be well-lit from above to prevent any tripping on the steps. We recommend a pendant light hanging from above if you have the space.
Hallways should have at least one light every 4-6 feet. You could use pendant lighting or install wall sconces to create a moody atmosphere in your hallways.
Since bedrooms are mostly used for sleeping, you don’t need an ultra strong light source in this room. A dimmable ambient light overhead is a great place to start. As it gets to be time for bed, you can dim the light in your bedroom to prepare yourself to sleep. Avoid installing non filtered light, such as recessed light, directly above your bed. Many people opt for table lamps on their nightstands as the last light they turn off before bed, too.
Bedroom lighting should be warmer side of the temperature spectrum to create a cozy and relaxing environment.
Bathrooms require functional lighting for doing your makeup and taking a shower. We recommend at least one overhead lighting source such as a pendant or other ambient light. Additionally, surface lighting could be installed above the bathroom mirror to help focus on your face. Some people choose to install recessed lighting above the shower, as well for example. Cool lighting works best near the mirror. If you have a tub, then dimmable lighting may help to create a relaxing environment as you soak.
As more and more people are now working from home, it’s important to consider your home office lighting set-up very carefully. This is one room where you may not need ambient light, especially if you do most of your work during the day when ample sunlight is available. In this scenario, a task light is all that is needed, or a strong table lamp or floor lamp.
I’ve noticed that dark offices have become popular – with dark blue walls or dark furniture. Keep in mind that if you have an office with dark decorative elements, you’ll need more light than a white or light-colored office would.
With the right lighting, you can be more productive working from home than ever.
Optional Lighting Controls
There are lots of ways to customize the lighting in your home. Here are a few optional lighting control ideas to consider!
- Dimming: Dimmable lighting can help save you money and control the environment inside your home to set the right mood.
- Motion-sensored: Motion-sensored lights can be great for elderly people and anyone who finds them convenient!
- Color: Colored light bulbs aren’t recommended for adult areas, but why not let the kids have some fun with colored lighting?
Lighting by Interior Design Style
There are many ways to integrate lighting into your existing interior design style. Here are some guides to lighting based on your current home decor aesthetic.
As you can see, lighting can affect everything about our daily lives – from our appetite to our sleep patterns and our productivity. Although lighting is very utilitarian, it can also be a conscious choice that enhances the decorating style of a home. We hope this guide was helpful in assisting you to create the ideal lighting set-up for your home.