How to use light in interior design?(2)


General, or ambientlighting illuminates an entire space for visibility and safety. Light bounces off walls and ceilings to cover as much area as possible. General lighting can come from up-lights or down-lights:

  • Up-lights point illumination toward the ceiling. Up-light fixtures include torchiers and wall sconces.
  • Down-lights cast light down from the ceiling or wall. Popular down-lights include recessed lights (cans) and track lights.
  • Some lights, such as table and floor lamps, are both up- and down-lights because they cast light toward both the ceiling and the floor.


Task, or work, lighting illuminates smaller areas where more intense light is needed. Task light should be three times as bright as general lighting. Overly bright work lamps won’t make up for a dimly lit room (instead, you may develop eyestrain). Using higher light per watt (LPW) bulbs in other fixtures or increasing the number of fixtures to boost general lighting fixes this problem.

Good task lighting fixture choices are well-positioned recessed lights, track lighting, pendants, table or floor lamps, and under-cabinet lighting strips.


Accent lighting adds brilliant shimmer to make your precious objects, paintings, sculptures, and outstanding architectural features stand out. Use a bulb that’s no more than three times as bright as the surrounding general light. Position the fixture so that the light doesn’t block your line of sight so that no glaring reflections bounce back.

If you’re using track lighting for wall washing (lighting a non-textured wall) or wall grazing (lighting a textured wall), aim the beam of light at a 30-degree angle from the vertical to prevent glare and hot spots.

Interior Design Guide to Properly Lighting Each Room in Your Home

Foyers and Entryways

This is the point of entry into your home, so be sure to make a good first impression.  The lighting in your foyer should create a warm, welcoming effect.  Hanging pendants, chandeliers, and wall sconces will work nicely here.

Living Rooms

The majority of our time is spent here, so it is important to have easily controllable (think dimmers) and functional lighting in this space.  Try to combine overhead lighting with a mix of floor and table lamps. Don’t forget to make use of the natural light in your living room as well. Open shades and draperies to let daylight filter in.  Not only does it make your home look beautiful, but it saves energy too.

Dining Rooms

Your dining room is a place for relaxation – a place where you will share many family meals and host dinner parties, so lighting is extremely important in this space.  Strategically placed pendant lights or chandeliers above the dining room table are a must.  And of course, don’t forget to install dimmers to your dining room lighting.  It is a fantastic way to add drama and ambiance.


All the lighting in your kitchen should be utilitarian and task-focused, pointing downward toward your work surfaces.  A good ceiling light is also necessary in the kitchen (for example, recessed lighting). The kitchen is also a great place to combine aesthetics with functionality.  The use of under-cabinet lighting can greatly define the character of that space, all while adding functionality.


Soft, ambient lighting is best to use in bedrooms to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day.  Bedside lamps and wall lights with dimmers are perfect in this space.

Once you’ve mastered what type of lighting you need for each room, try playing with different layers of light to accentuate the architectural features in your space.  Remember, the right lighting can have a dramatic affect on a room.  Lighting can have the power to change a space from plain and uninviting, to warm and welcoming.  So, be sure to select lighting that will not only suit the style and function of your space, but will also enhance the ambiance of your home.

Lighting and interior design go hand in hand when creating your perfect space.