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Lighting Design Principles: How to Light Your Home

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Lighting is often the most overlooked part of home design but it’s essential for the ambiance and functionality of your living spaces. Effective lighting can transform your home, making it look better and providing the light you need for daily living. This article will walk you through the lighting design principles so you can light your home with the help of RM Plumbing and Electrical electricians.

Lighting 101

Lighting in the home can be broken down into three types: ambient, task and accent. Each type serves a purpose and when used together, you get a balanced and inviting space.

Ambient Lighting

This is the overall lighting of a room. It’s the base layer of lighting, usually provided by ceiling fixtures, chandeliers or recessed lights. Ambient lighting gives you a comfortable level of brightness without glare and allows you to move around safely.

Task Lighting

As the name suggests, task lighting is focused on specific areas where activities such as reading, cooking or working are done. Desk lamps, under-cabinet lights in kitchens and bedside reading lamps are examples. Task lighting should be bright enough to prevent eye strain but not so harsh it’s uncomfortable.

Accent Lighting

This type of lighting adds drama and highlights specific features in your home, such as artwork, architectural details or plants. It’s usually three times brighter than ambient lighting and creates visual interest by drawing attention to areas. Examples are track lights, wall mounted picture lights and spotlight fixtures.

Lighting Design

Lighting design starts with a plan. Consider the function of each room, the activities that will be done there and the mood you want to create. Here are some to consider:

Evaluate Natural Light

Consider the amount of natural light each room gets during the day. Rooms with plenty of natural light might need less artificial light during the day and rooms with little natural light will need more thought out lighting solutions.

Layer Your Lighting

Combining ambient, task and accent lighting in each room creates a layered effect that gives functionality and aesthetic appeal. For example, in a living room you might have a central chandelier for ambient lighting, table lamps for task lighting and wall sconces to highlight artwork for accent lighting.

Think About Light Bulbs

The type of light bulb you choose can make or break the atmosphere of a room. LED bulbs are energy efficient and come in different colour temperatures, from warm white to cool white. Warm white (around 2700K) is cosy and inviting, perfect for living rooms and bedrooms and cool white (around 4000K) is better for task oriented spaces like kitchens and bathrooms.

Lighting Specific Areas

Each area in your home has different lighting needs. Here’s how to light each:

Living Room

This multi purpose space needs a combination of lighting types. Use a central pendant or chandelier for ambient lighting. Add floor lamps and table lamps for task lighting, perfect for reading or other activities. Accent lighting, such as wall sconces or uplights can be used to highlight artwork or architectural features.


The kitchen needs bright focused lighting for safety and functionality. Use ceiling mounted fixtures for general lighting and under-cabinet lights to illuminate countertops. Pendant lights over an island or dining area can be task and decorative lighting.


A relaxing bedroom needs soft ambient lighting. Bedside lamps or wall mounted reading lights are task lighting. Consider dimmable lights or a dimmer switch to control the light and create a calm atmosphere.


Bright even lighting is important in the bathroom, especially around the mirror. Use vanity lights on either side of the mirror to eliminate shadows on your face. Ceiling lights or recessed fixtures are general lighting and consider a dimmer for a more relaxing bath time.

Home Office

Good task lighting is important in a home office to prevent eye strain. A desk lamp with adjustable brightness can give focused light for work. Make sure there is plenty of ambient light to reduce glare from computer screens.

Smart Lighting Solutions

With technology advancing, smart lighting systems offer convenience and energy efficiency. Smart bulbs and fixtures can be controlled via smartphone apps, voice commands or automatic sensors. These systems allow you to adjust brightness, colour temperature and even schedule lighting changes throughout the day. Investing in smart lighting will make your home more functional and save you energy costs.


Lighting design is about more than just pretty fixtures; it’s about creating a functional and beautiful space. By understanding the principles of lighting and applying them to each area of your home you can turn your living space into a well lit, warm and inviting home. Whether you’re renovating or just updating your lighting these tips will help you make the right decisions to get the right light in your home.

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