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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
Task lighting in closets: Ceiling or wall-mounted lighting in closets makes it easier to see and select your clothing, accessories, and other items.
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.
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.
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.
Shelf or bookcase lighting: Install LED strip lights or puck lights on the underside of shelves to showcase books, collectibles, or other decorative items.
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:
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!
Pendant lights: Pendant light fixtures are versatile and can be used over kitchen islands and sinks, smaller dining tables, foyers, and bathrooms and hallways.
Sconces: Wall-mounted sconces are both decorative and functional in hallways, bedrooms, offices, and living rooms.
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.
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! 😉
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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