The Perfect Lighting Guide for Every Room

Jul 5, 2021


Lighting styles vary from room to room around the home. Sometimes it’s there for purely functional purposes, but most domestic lighting is designed to bring a mood to the room and to make it inviting and relaxing.

With modern energy efficient LED lighting, various permanent lighting applications can be used - be they obvious or subtle - to help accent and emphasize features or to draw the eye in certain directions. Here’s our room-by-room guide to the different types of lighting options so you can get the most out of your home.

Living Room

House Doctor
House Doctor

Contemporary living room lighting is all about letting the natural light play with the artificial, which means there’s a spectrum of moods as the day’s cycle passes. The sheer volume of lounge lighting ideas can be overwhelming, but narrow it down to categories and your choice becomes easier.

Do you want direct light illuminating the room, or do you want to light the ceiling and bathe in its reflected glow? Are you looking for something minimalist and modern, traditional pendant lighting or something indulgent and glamorous? Think about the decor in the room and the lighting design choice will become clearer.

Placing lights behind furniture pointing upwards creates a stunning effect, especially if that’s the only light source in the room. You get the ambient illumination of the wall and the 90-degree reflection from the ceiling, and because there’s no direct view of the bulbs, it’s relaxing for the eye, the perfect backdrop for conversation and entertainment.

Lighting on side tables and sideboards is another favorite. It’s out of the way, so brings highlights to distinct areas of the room, which is just perfect for creating a mood and breaking up a monotonous space.

Again, you can be as traditional or modern as you like, and there’s a real taste for quirky table lights, often based on playful animals, to bring fun to the stuffiest of rooms. No side table? No problem. A floor lamp fits the bill, and it’s as traditional or modern as you like.

Dining Room

House Doctor

Over in the dining room, the rules are similar to those in the living room. It’s all about ambiance and relaxation, allowing evenings with friends and family to ascend into laughter and anecdote as the food and drink bring the sensual pleasures. Most people like to keep the main lighting to the sides using wall lights or sideboard lights.

Remember, if you’re entertaining, people don’t feel comfortable if they’re illuminated like museum exhibits – the ambiance is key, and the lighting should obey that rule. If you do have downlights over the dining table, keep the shades vertical so the table itself is lit up rather than the guests. The way it plays with the flatware, glassware and your instagrammable specialty dish make it all worthwhile.

Kitchen / bmak / bmak

The best kitchen lighting finds the perfect balance between the functional and the ambient. Because kitchens often become the hub of parties, you can make yours welcoming by keeping the light on the low-down while retaining functionality.

You’ll often find this happens naturally if you install kitchen counter lamps on the underside of your kitchen cabinets. This type of task lighting illuminates the prep surfaces brilliantly, but the reflected light from the worktops is usually enough to bathe the room in subtle light that’s a real crowd-pleaser – especially in a white kitchen. Having kitchen ceiling lamps gives you that extra option, and is useful for kitchen islands or when you’re cleaning up, but they don’t have to be used all the time.

Kitchen diner lighting follows the kitchen’s lead – your normal kitchen lamps should be enough to keep the room comfortably lit, but if you want some pendants over the dining area, the dining room rules apply.

Now you’re full of ideas for kitchen lighting, it’s time to find the storage, cookware and appliances that you’ll be only too pleased to illuminate.

Bathroom / neonshot

This is where you need both focus and subtlety. If you’re a regular bubble-bather, you’re probably well acquainted with the soft glow and beautiful scents of candles, so you won’t be needing our advice on the best scents. You can probably forgo the wonders of electricity altogether while you’re soaking away, but dimmable ceiling lights might be more your scene, turned down to minimum while you’re bathing but cranked up to max when you’re at the mirror.

Speaking of mirrors, it’s a bit of a special case when it comes to lighting in the bathroom. It’s where you’re at your most personal – shaving, cleansing, plucking, applying makeup – so getting the full illumination treatment is essential if you don’t want to miss a bit. You can go for the backstage look, with spotlights dotted around the mirror, or have something subtler like a bright light sitting behind a table mirror for a more floodlit effect.

Bedroom / Diana Rui /

Just like the bathroom, the bedroom needs lighting that’s both focused and relaxing, and this is usually achieved with separate lighting around the room. The dressing table needs the most light; wall lights or table lights are best for illuminating your face. If there’s no mirror, why not simply get a light-up mirror?

Table lights on the bedside table are hard to improve upon, especially for couples, as you can have one each for reading (or scrolling through your phone). A slightly subtler effect is brought by ambient lighting behind the headboard – this kind of LED strip lighting might not illuminate the pages of your book so much, but it’s a striking effect, somewhere between subtle and bright. Fixed wall lights with a switch next to the bed are a third option, although you’ll need to be certain you’re not going to move your bed anytime soon.

If you’ve got a main light, well, it’s up to you whether you want a functional on/off affair for changing the bedding and getting dressed, or something more alluring like an over-the-top chandelier if your bedroom is a place of romance and glamour.

Hallways / bmak

Finally we have the passageways – halls, stairs and landings. As a first impression for guests, it’s good to push the boat out a little here. Something big and bold in the hall always works, and if you’ve got mirrors, you’ll accentuate its size. Victorian houses always suit period lighting – think brass or copper, with glass balls and plenty of decorative features. If your home has tall ceilings, then make the most of its height and go for full on drama.

Many people try to keep the decor of the hall running up the stairs and into landing, treating all three as a single room, but there’s no reason why you have to. As long as the stairs and landing are safely lit, just follow your instincts.

Brightness Guide

How bright is 3000 lumens?

How bright is 3000 lumens?

3000 lumens is the equivalent of 200W in incandescent terms, or 50W in LED terms. This would be among the brightest lights you’d have around the home, ideal for single-source lights or an open plan kitchen designed to bring light to the dining area.

How bright is 500 lumens?

How bright is 500 lumens?

500 lumens would be equivalent to a 35W incandescent bulb, or a 6W LED bulb. This would be at home in a small table light or bedside light, or where you’re looking to bring a little brightness to a specific area.

Whatever your interior, finding the right lighting is key to elevating your space and creating the perfect ambiance. From statement chandeliers to glowing wall lights and uplifting spotlights, discover our full collection of lighting to give your home the glow-up it deserves...