Anne Haimes Interior Design
Spiral staircase lighting

Guide to Interior Lighting 

Your home lighting plays a role in the mood created in each room. It does far more than just illuminate the room – proper styled lighting warms cosy living rooms and brightens open kitchen spaces.  

Our guide helps you understand how to maximise your home lighting to create your desired atmosphere, from bedroom to home office.   

First, we’ll look at the different types of lighting – natural and artificial. You’ll always want a combination of the two for a stylish and functional interior, which lends itself to summer afternoons and movie nights alike.   

Natural Light

white and grey living room, kitchen and L shape sofa

Most of the light in your home – especially in kitchens and bedrooms – should come from natural light, through windows or skylights. Most rooms should have a source of natural light, as it’s important for health and wellbeing, as well as giving rooms an organic glow.  

The amount of sunlight available to each room will affect how you approach your interior lighting plan. Minimal sunlight leaves rooms feeling dark and cold – plus it leaves you overly dependent on artificial light. To boost natural light, place large mirrors around the room to reflect the light coming in from windows.  

Too much natural light can also be a problem, with glare becoming distracting in cosier areas like living rooms, where you’ll want to sit back with a book or watch television. In these rooms, slatted shades and thick fabric drapes are ideal for limiting natural light when needed, without blocking it out completely.  

You can also create warm and welcoming atmospheres using natural light from the glow of candles and firelight. If your rooms are without a fireplace, placing candlesticks on a mantelpiece or ledged furniture brings a homely natural light source for evenings in.  

Artificial Light

pink dressing room with ambient, task and accent lighting

Your home will be filled with three main types of artificial light – ambient, task and accent. In interior design, you may also use mood or decorative lighting to nurture a welcoming or productive atmosphere – or for some added creative flair.  

Use a combination of lighting to build layers in your rooms. This gives them a lift and makes the interior pop. Home lighting should be complementary, with each lighting feature serving a purpose. For example, ambient pendant lighting creates a bright and open kitchen atmosphere, while task downlighting highlights key areas like worktops. 

1. Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the main source of light in a room, setting the mood and illuminating the space with an even spread of light.  

living room with neutral colour design

Pendant or flush mounts are a stylish choice for your ambient light source, particularly in living, dining and bedrooms. They’re sleek and subtle while providing an even light source. Choose a style and shape that complements your interior design.  

Recessed can lights also prove popular, especially in bathrooms. Plus, they can be used to provide accent lighting – highlighting picture frames and wall art, to draw the eye when you have visitors. When used as ambient lights, be careful not to use bulbs that are too powerful, as they will act more like spotlights and take away from the inviting atmosphere you want in relaxing living spaces.  

We suggest installing a dimmer switch for your ambient lighting. This allows you to set the mood and control the amount of light in the room, for cosy nights in and sociable evenings with friends. 

2. Task Lighting

bedside lamp blue and white cushions

Task lighting emits targeted streams of light, which is ideal when performing activities like reading or cooking.  As you use each room for different tasks, you should think about the style and suitability of each task lighting feature. 

Don’t limit yourself to table lamps. Depending on the room, the type of task lighting allows you to be more creative.  

In kitchens, your main task will be cooking and preparing food. If you have a kitchen island or sideboard, a stylish pendant light or recessed downlight overhead gives off a perfect glow. Under-cabinet lighting is also ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, illuminating your toiletries or kitchen utensils and adding a classy touch to your room.  

Mirror lighting is helpful when getting ready, too. Our tip is to place lights on both sides of your mirror, rather than above or below it, as this can create an unflattering lighting angle.  

3. Accent Lighting

staircase with floor lighting

Accent lighting calls out the beautiful features in your room. This may include highlighting a picture or plant, complimenting your ambient light source, or combining with mirrors to open up your living spaces.  

If you have minimal wall space available, consider recessed can lights. These can be fitted in the floor as an uplighter, or in the ceiling as a downlight. Plus, they are ideal for highlighting artwork or picture frames. 

Stylish and unique shapes around the home can also be enhanced, as well as objects. LED strip lighting projects your bookshelves or furniture and can also be fitted as perimeter lighting for a contemporary style.  

4. Mood Lighting

Mood lighting complements your ambient light to give rooms an inviting glow, created through well-placed pools of light. Ambient lighting can create unflattering shadows, which can be reduced by carefully placed mood lighting.  

wood bathroom surfaces, marble sink area and accent lighting

These are best fitted at eye level, to avoid casting shadows. However, keep in mind, harsher mood lights can also cause eye strain. So, use a diffuser or shade on bare lightbulbs to avoid an uncomfortable glare. 

Floor lamps perfectly complement and enhance your ambient light. They can be placed almost anywhere in the room and don’t require specialist fitting into walls or ceiling – although, placing them near to furniture can help disguise cables. Combine them with full-length mirrors to make the most of your space – helping spread the light around the room.