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How to Light Every Room in Your House with 4 Types of Lighting in Interior Design

Learn the different types of lighting in interior design and tips on how to light up every room in your home!

Hey friend!  Do you ever wonder if you have proper home lighting in your house?  Or how to make rooms look lighter or more cozy with different types of lights? 

Well, you are in luck.  Today, I’m sharing all things interior lighting. We’ll chat about the four distinct types of home lighting, and how to make the most of them.

Home lighting tips for renters and home owners graphic for pinterest showing a copper lamp on a white side table in a neutral living room.
The Four Different Types of Lighting

The Four Types of Lighting in Interior Design

In the world of interior design, there are four fundamental types of lighting, each with its unique role and impact on our living spaces. I’ll introduce each one and in the next section go over how you can use each type in your own home!

First is ambient lighting, often considered the foundation of any well-lit room, which provides overall illumination and sets the mood.

Second is task lighting whose primary purpose is more utilitarian, focusing on specific work areas. You see task lighting in reading nooks or kitchen countertops, ensuring you can perform tasks with precision.

A green and blue hallway next to a bright foyer with a beautiful walnut cabinet with an asian tin table lamp and art.
Estate Sale Find an Asian Tin Table Lamp and a Gold Flush Hallway Light Fixture

Third is accent lighting which is used more aesthetically in interiors to highlight artwork, architectural features, or decor.

Lastly, decorative lighting infuses personality and style in interior decorating. It’s often in the form of beautiful chandeliers or eye-catching floor lamps that become the focal point of a room.

Each type plays a crucial part in crafting a well-designed, inviting atmosphere in our homes. You’ll notice that most options can be used for more than one type of lighting.

Eclectic global bedroom with a gold canopy bed and bedside table lamp with floral lamp shade.
Thrift Store Makeover Table Lamp

Ambient interior lighting

Ambient lighting is the most common type of lighting and has an all-over effect that sets the mood and provides a comfortable level of brightness in each room. Here are some examples of how to use ambient lighting in different areas of your house.

Ceiling fixtures: Ceiling-mounted fixtures such as chandeliers, semi-flush or flush-mount lights, or pendant lights are excellent choices for dining rooms, living rooms, and entryways.

Mint green interior front door and gray with metallic spots stenciled entryway walls. Green plant and lots of light.
A Modern Flush Mount Foyer Light

Recessed lighting: Recessed ceiling lights are great for any room as they can provide uniform lighting without cluttering the ceiling.

Wall sconces: Wall-mounted sconces provide ambiance in areas like bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, and offices and also have a decorative element to the room.

Table and floor lamps: Plug-in table or floor light fixtures with shades can provide ambient and decorative lighting in various areas and create a cozy atmosphere.

It is important to consider the room’s size, function, and your personal preferences when using ambient lighting. Consider dimmer switches to get the most out of general lighting and tailor the ambiance to different occasions and moods.

Home lighting tips for your house or rental close up view of a dresser with a table lamp and art gallery.
Table Lamp on a Dresser

Renter tip:  Hire a handyman to replace a rental ceiling light fixture with one that you love.  Store the rental fixture in a safe place and reinstall it before you move out. 

Ambient Interior Lighting Ideas

  • Try flanking table lamps on either side of your sofa on end tables, buffet, entry tables, and bedside tables.
  • On a design aspect, they do not always need to be matching.  Try similar sizes but different styles for a more eclectic or informal look.
Lots of natural light and a pair of side tables and lamps flanking a grey leather couch.  A grey rug with a pair of barrel chairs around a grey coffee table.
Mismatched Table Lamps Flanking a Sofa
  • Suppose you want to try something a little different.  Try placing a lamp in your kitchen or bathroom to create a cozier feel.
  • Don’t let cord outlets dictate where you can place a lamp.  Run cords under furniture (but not under rugs) and around the edge of a wall.  Try placing a basket or floor plant in front of an outlet to hide the cords.

Task Interior Lighting

Task lighting is used where you do specific activities or tasks such as your desk, reading spaces, cooking, crafting, or whatever floats your boat! Here are some examples of how to use task lighting in different spaces:

A beautiful living room with a german smear fireplace, green velvet sofa, and burled wood console table with table lamp.
Ceiling Lights, Lamp, and Batter Operated Candles Provide Different Atmospheres

Under-cabinet lighting: Under-cabinet lighting is perfect for illuminating countertops in the kitchen where food prep and cooking take place. LED strips or puck lights are commonly used for this purpose.

Desk lamps: Adult and child workspaces and home offices benefit from desk lamps that have an adjustable arm and shade. These types of lamps provide stylish glare-free lighting for reading, writing, art, and computer tasks.

Blue arch painted on a light blue wall with a matching desk and maroon table lamp as task lighting in a boy's bedroom.
A Work Lamp for a Boy’s Desk

Reading lamps: Position floor or tabletop reading lamps near a favorite reading spot whether it’s a cozy chair or bedside table to provide adequate light and a decorative element.  

Task Lighting in Small Spaces

A great option for a space that might not have the surface for a task lamp is using wall-mounted reading/task lights or floor lamps.

A beautiful blue and green bedroom with a wall mural and green velvet headboard.  A white table with a modern gold and white table light perfect for reading at night.
Bedside Table Lamps for Reading at Night

Vanity lighting: Vanity lights are often mounted above or on either side of a mirror. This location is ideal illumination for grooming and applying makeup and is a show-stopper in interior decorating.

A bathroom vanity has a gold arch mirror and black vanity light for task and decorative lighting with blue and white wallpaper.
Bathroom Vanity Light Provides Task and Decorative Lighting

Task lighting in closets: Ceiling or wall-mounted lighting in closets makes it easier to see and select your clothing, accessories, and other items.

A reading lamp is used for task lighting on a baby grand piano.
A Desk Lamp is Perfect for the Piano

Remember that task lighting should be tailored to the specific needs of each task and can be adjusted to provide the right amount of light. It’s a practical and functional element of interior lighting that enhances your ability to perform tasks efficiently while reducing eye strain.

Renter tip:  Use command strips to attach the sconce and wall lights. 

Soft lighting in the living room for hygge decor and ambient lighting.
A Morovvian Star Light Adds a Decorative Element to the Living Room

Accent Lighting in Interior Design

Accent lighting is used to add visual interest. It highlights pieces of art, sculptures, and plants. It can add a focal point when placed under cabinets, in bookcases, on walls (wall sconces), or in recessed ceiling lights. 

Soft lighting and reading lamps in the bedroom to have a hgyye home and provide task lighting.
Plug in Scones for the Bedroom are Renter Friendly

Artwork lighting: Picture lights, wall-mounted fixtures, or track lighting can be positioned to highlight paintings or other art pieces. This type of lighting adds an artistic touch to your room or hallway.

Accent lighting in a living room with a brass table lamp on a burled wood console table.  Ceiling pocket lights provide ambient or general lighting for the green and white living room.  While battery operated candles provide more decorative lighting.
Battery Operated Candles Cast a Warm Glow

Shelf or bookcase lighting: Install LED strip lights or puck lights on the underside of shelves to showcase books, collectibles, or other decorative items.

A gold and chrome bathroom vanity light is lovely task lighting for a white and grey bathroom with green garden wallpaper.
Decorative and Task Lighting in the Bathroom

Cabinet lighting: Inside cabinet or display cases, LED puck lights or strip lights can highlight fine china, glassware, and pottery.

The key to effective accent lighting is balance. It should complement the ambient and task lighting in the room without overwhelming them. Less is more with accent lighting! One to a few properly placed accent lighting can transform ordinary rooms into captivating and inviting areas.

Decorative Interior Lighting

Decorative lighting adds an aesthetic element to your interior decorating. It can be a statement piece or add to your room’s decor style. Here are some examples of decorative lighting fixtures:

Grey leather sofa with eclectic textiles and table lamp.
Mirrors, Windows, and a Table Lamp for Light Sources

Chandeliers: These beauties come in a variety of styles and are typically installed in dining rooms, entryways, or bedrooms adding elegance and drama to the space. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and hang a chandelier in an unexpected place!

Gold and white chandelier  in front of a white kitchen.
A Gold and White Chandelier is the Dining Room Focal Point

Pendant lights: Pendant light fixtures are versatile and can be used over kitchen islands and sinks, smaller dining tables, foyers, and bathrooms and hallways.

DIY floral paper lantern hanging in a bright foyer in Okinawa, japan.
A DIY Floral Paper Lantern Hangs Over a Pot Light in the Foyer

Sconces: Wall-mounted sconces are both decorative and functional in hallways, bedrooms, offices, and living rooms.

A green office with bird wallpaper has a sun tunnel and plug in wall sconces to provide task and ambient lighting.
Plug-in Wall Sconces Brightens Up a Floral Office on Dark Days

Table and floor lamps: These light fixtures can be used to elevate your decorating and provide balanced illumination when combined with other types of lighting.

A large arch floor lamp with a tassel lamp shade is beautiful decorative lighting over a baby grand piano against a dark green wall with a picture window and teal floral velvet curatins.
A Large Decorative Floor Lamp

Decorative lighting can reflect your personality and the overall style of your interior spaces and is often a result of the other types of lighting!

Extra lighting tips with natural light:

Artificial and natural lighting is very important for any home and you should use it to its full potential so you can enjoy a happy space!

  • Evaluate your space by seeing how much natural light you get throughout the day.  If your room is not facing East or West, you may want to consider adding a mirror opposite of your window to help reflect what natural light does come into the room.
  • Adding white and higher-wattage light bulbs to your general lighting will help too.

Knowing the interior design lighting basics and what light fixtures are appropriate for each type will help you maximize the lighting in your own home.  I hope the examples ‘enlightened’ you to use the different types of lighting in interior design to its full potential!  😉

Add a mirror opposite a window to maximize natural light like this dresser vignette with a silver mirror and decor.
Natural Light Reflected in a Mirror and a Table Lamp

If your space does not feel warm and inviting after a long day out or bright and cheery during the day, then evaluating your lighting situation might be the solution.

Thanks for stopping by.  Leave me any comments, suggestions, or questions.  I love to read them!


P.S. For energy-efficient lighting, use Light Emitting Diode (LED) or Compact Fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs and install a dimmer when possible.

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  1. WE have NEVER had good lighting and we’ve lived with it and then just complain about it.. I wish I had a million dollars. I’d pay someone to set me up w ‘smart’ lighting.

    1. I’ve a good luck with Home Goods and thrift stores but sometimes I have to update a lamp shade (Garden Ridge) or spray paint the lamp base. Using the right light bulb can make a big difference. 😉 We lived in a very dark 1950’s ranch before we moved into this beach house FULL of windows and light.

  2. Incredible tips! Lighting is such an important issue at my house. I wish we had more light or windows in the right places! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. This post really resonated with me because we have terrible lighting in our house and I’ve been trying to figure out ways to remedy it. Thanks. 🙂

  4. I reacted to this post because my house has terrible lighting, and I’ve been thinking of improving it. I am planning to my home with beautiful clinging interiors so that those lights increase my home’s beauty and attract everybody’s attention. Thanks for your excellent article

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