Text Size
A Guide To Interior Lighting A Guide To Interior Lighting

A Complete Guide to Interior Lighting

As late renowned American interior designer Albert Hadley once said, “Design is defined by light and shade, and appropriate lighting is enormously important.”

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of your interior, as well as illuminating a room, it can completely transform the look of a space for better or for worse. On one hand, it can turn a drab room into a glossy-magazine-worthy space with the simple flick of a switch or, on the other, it can under- or over-illuminate resulting in headaches, tired eyes, and lighting fatigue.

Lighting should be layered the same way colors and textures are layered in a room.

There are many options when it comes to home décor lighting Let’s take a tour of a variety of different lighting types and get ideas on how to style the lighting in your home interior.

TYPES OF LIGHT: There are two main types of lighting – Natural light and Artificial light.

 NATURAL LIGHT: Sunlight is the most natural source of light. It is mentally stimulating and absolutely free. But it is also difficult to control. Window coverings are helpful in controlling natural light. For rooms with little natural light, interior designer Sara Cosgrove suggests that “sheers and window treatments are the most effective ways for controlling natural light, along with the use of mirrors.”



ARTIFICIAL LIGHT: Artificial lighting should be used to add layers to your space. A warm light (opposed to a clear light) is the most welcoming option for residential spaces. As well as adding to the overall interior design style of a space, artificial lighting can be used to highlight features and alter the perceived proportions of a room.


We should always bear in mind the five categories of lights explained below when planning your lighting scheme. Plan to use your space with the range of lighting effects to create the desired looks. 



The five main types of interior lighting are: General, Ambient, Mood, Task, and Accent.

Some lights can fit into a few types (depending on their placement, brightness, and use) but a general understanding of each individual type of lighting can be very helpful in planning an effective scheme.


 GENERAL LIGHTING: General lighting is the basic foundation of a lighting scheme, providing a uniform light over an entire room and illuminating a space functionally rather than for aesthetic reasons. The defining characteristic of general lighting is that it’s usually direct and should be controlled by a dimmer switch to account for changes in daylight. A central pendant light or Tube light is perhaps the most commonly used source of general lighting and can be an important part of the design of the room. A luxury chandelier make great visual statements in a room and direct the eye. Having said that, these must be accompanied by other lighting layers as a central light source on its own casts unflattering shadows (especially for people) and gives no real life to a room. A lighting scheme this simplified is generally considered vastly inadequate for creating a welcoming space



AMBIENT LIGHTING:  The next layer of lighting is ambient lighting which is a great partner to general lighting. Both types share important characteristics – they’re primarily functional and used to light a complete area. The main difference between the two is in the direction of their light. Ambiance lighting is generally used for entertaining – it creates drama to the space. Ambient lighting is indirect and therefore softer than general lighting – because it doesn’t usually use downlighting, it doesn’t create unflattering shadows.


  TASK LIGHTING:  As its name would suggest task lighting is any light source used for a particular task like reading or cooking. By nature, these lights need to have a stronger wattage than most other lighting. Always combine with adequate ambient light, however, to avoid eye strain caused by the sharp contrast from light to dark areas. Reading and working areas are some of the most obvious areas in need of task lighting. Balanced-arm lamps make great desk designs whilst flexible reading lights fixed near a headboard are great for bedtime reading. Mirror lighting works well in personal grooming areas and bathrooms. The kitchen is another area into which task lighting must be incorporated to make food preparation easier and safer. Under-cabinet spotlights, recessed downlights over worktops, or a long and low pendant light over a preparation island are just a few of the options for kitchen task lighting. Task lighting can also be used to create foot flow paths in a room or hallway or in the form of floor-level directional lights or riser lights on stairs. 



 MOOD LIGHTING:  Mood lighting is as important to the overall look of a room than general and ambient lighting and a space would be bare without it. It makes a room pleasantly inviting by creating pools of light that counteract the shadows caused by general lighting. It’s also an important element of a room’s style as it tends to be equally concerned with style as it is with function – popular options being table lamps and floor lamps. Because mood lighting is often the layer of lighting closest to eye level, it’s important to shade any glare from unsightly bare bulbs with a filter. The same goes for your general or ambient lighting if the bare bulb can be seen from below. If the light in your room relies heavily on mood lighting, paler tones are best to allow as much light to shine through; a darker shade is great if you’re going for a moody, atmospheric look. Silver or gold linings are the best for replicating a luxurious glow.



ACCENT LIGHTING:  Similar to task lighting, accent lighting has a particular function and is any lighting that has specifically been included to highlight a particular feature in a room. Spotlights that highlight artwork, sculptures, and objects in cabinets or on pedestals are examples of accent lighting which enhance the pieces and prevent them from being lost in an under-illuminated space. Similar to task lighting, because of its nature, accent lighting needs more lumens (the light output) – at least three times as much – and therefore requires a higher wattage.





DOWNLIGHTING:  Downlighting is a very useful and most popular form of lighting in interiors – most central light sources or spotlights will be downlights. It does cast unflattering shadows (especially for people) so it needs to be counterbalanced with adequate 

 UPLIGHTING:   Uplighting is a much softer alternative to downlighting as it indirectly introduces light into a room by having it bounce off the ceiling and reflect back into the room.

  WALL WASHING Wall washing evenly illuminates a vertical surface in a soft way. Place the light at an adequate distance so that the beam reaches the entire surface. As a result, light is washed on the wall and hides blemishes and eliminates shadows.


 WALL GRAZING:   Wall grazing places a light intentionally close to the surface it’s to illuminate, effectively highlighting its texture. Wall grazing is perfect for accenting stone, brick, and stucco walls. It is also effective on statues and carvings.


  WALL SCONES:   Mounted to the wall surface, scones have the ability to direct light either upwards or downwards or in both the directions, adding style to the space.


 SPOTLIGHTING: Spotlighting is used a lot in task and accent lighting to highlight a particular feature of a room.


   VALANCE LIGHTING:  In this lighting, the fixtures can either be mounted way high on a wall, in a horizontal shield, metal, wood, on the window, etc. so that light bounces in the downward and upward direction.


    TRACK LIGHTING:  Here a linear cable with several adjustable heads is fixed along a track.


   CHANDELIERS:  These decorative lightings are hung at the ceiling and suspend light towards the entryway or on a table. It brightens up the space beautifully.


  CEILING: The fixtures for ceiling lights contain a plastic or glass shade that hides the bulb. This lighting has been used for several decades in homes.

 RECESSED: The fixtures for recessed lighting are installed above the ceiling and attached to the opening created in the ceiling. It sends a band of light focused on one direction.


      UNDERCABINET:  As the name suggests, these are mounted under the cabinets such as those in a kitchen. It mostly has a puck-shaped fixture.


 FLOOR LAMPS:  These are placed on the floor and available in different sizes and shapes such as short, tall, bulky, and petite. It is an excellent decorative piece for every home. 


    PENDANTS: This kind of fixture is suspended from the ceiling and direct light downwards, for example, a kitchen island or a table. It adds to the decorative elements of a given space.


     PERIMETER LIGHTING:  Perimeter lighting accentuates the dimensions of a room and expands its apparent size. Coving or cornice lighting is an effective way to do this and is used often by interior designers and architects.



    Reference: Luxdeco/blogs.




Talk to our Expert Designer

Fields with (*) are required.
Please prove you are human!