Tips on how to get your indoor lighting just right

A small error in the way you design and implement your indoor lighting can negatively impact the whole mood and functioning of your home. The right indoor lighting scheme and your home will look warm, welcoming and provide security and safety for your family. Get it slightly wrong though, and you can end up with all sorts of problems ranging from headaches and poor vision to blackspots (shadowed areas). Here are some tips on how to get your indoor lighting exactly right.

interior lightsIt all comes down to the light: your indoor lighting sets the whole tone and mood of a space. BAD lighting alienates everyone, creating a tense and intimidating environment. Good lighting makes everyone feel welcomed and at home, it alters and enhances the very color of your wall paint and home furnishings. To get exactly the right interior lights for your indoor living spaces, you need to achieve a suitable and sustainable mix of ambient/general lighting (which provides the main lighting source for your room – usually consisting of ceiling lights, wall lights or recessed lights); task lighting (used for specific functions like reading, applying makeup, cooking etc), and accent lighting (which illuminates and ‘accents’ central features of the room like books, artwork or architectural features – bringing drama and depth to your indoor living spaces). A well-lit room will have all three. To select the right mix of indoor lighting types for your home, think about the size and dimensions of your room, the purpose of your indoor lighting (will you be cooking? reading? et), what fixtures you want to accentuate, and the effect it will have on other features of the room (the paintwork etc). What sort of feel do you want in the room in question? A cosy intimate one, or do you simply want strong, clear, utilitarian lighting. Once you’ve acquired this information…

Create a lighting plan: nut out a lighting plan that will enable you to achieve your lighting goals. Many lighting shops will give you free advice – for particularly large projects, considering hiring a lighting expert. Here are some of the things you will probably need to consider for the different rooms in your house:

  • Bathroom: strong task lighting should be combined with soft ambient lighting for those more intimate moments – a romantic night time bath for example. Floor lighting can help you out with late-night trips to the toilet. Add extra lights to avoid shadowy areas in showers or bathtubs.
  • Bedroom: again you want some good task lighting, combined with mood lighting – think about dimmers, bedside and dressable table lights, wardrobe lights. Kids will need night lights. You might want remote controlled lighting that you can control from the bed.
  • Lounge: here you will want to utilize feature lighting that decorates the main features of your living room. You might also want a dimming option for when you watch television etc. Accent lighting also goes well in the lounge-room – great for when you want a more intimate feel.
  • Kitchen: Strong task lights and recessed downlighting are the name of the game here. Place motion sensor lights in your cabinet and pantry for late-night visits!
  • Dining room: complementing your downlights with additional lighting layers such as a chandelier and wall sconces that can be turned on an off individually will create a dining room lighting experience that can be tailored to each occasion.
  • Corridors and hallways: these also need to be safely lit! Illuminate your stairways from above with a strong central light, make sure there are no dark corners and shadows. Accent lighting works well if you have paintings, statues etc that you want to show off to guests. Consider utilizing motion sensor lights in these areas also.

Taking into account the little things in each and every room in your house, and planning your lighting accordingly, will make all the difference in the world to the quality of your indoor lighting experience.

Work with natural light: the best, cheapest and most effective lighting for your house is the natural light provided by the sun! But how to utilize it to the utmost? If your rooms already face eastwards, then you already set – otherwise, utilize mirrors, reflective surfaces, light color palettes etc. On the other hand, you can minimize harsh lighting with light-filtering blinds, dark fabrics and textures, etc.

indoor lighting

Get the right type of light bulbs: getting your indoor lighting just right is not just a matter of WHERE you place your lights, and WHAT you light, but also selecting the right bulbs. Incandescents, LEDs, fluorescent, halogen lighting, ‘energy efficient’ lighting – there are so many options to choose from. What is the right bulb for you will depend on your lighting purposes – consider the size of the globe, the wattage, the shade (warm or cool; bright white to blue to yellowish light – ie the ‘color temperature’ of the light). For example, warmer globes are the preferred option if you want a cozy, intimate atmosphere in your rooms.

Utilize the right lighting tricks: these small tips and tricks can make all the difference in the world to the quality of your indoor lighting experience – making a large room feel small and cozy, or a tiny room feel a lot bigger.

  • To make a small room feel larger, consider using up-lights, or washers
  • To make a room look taller, use vertical lights
  • To make the room feel cozier, utilize table lamps (which reduce the amount of light heading up to your ceiling).


Blogger, editor, developer who loves green living. Interested in photovoltaics and solar lighting. Reviewing solar products since 2013.

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1 Response

  1. Michael Lee says:

    You give a great idea to use motion sensors for the lighting in the hallways. My wife and I really like having a really bright home lighting for our kitchen and have dimmers set for most rooms. I’ll have to look into these motion sensors also to see if there are feasible with our home.

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