Lighting ideas – 10 ways to illuminate every room beautifully

These lighting ideas will create the right atmosphere around the home, and they’re stylish to boot

Lighting ideas
(Image credit: Future)

Great lighting ideas need to provide the right illumination for all of a room’s functions, and allow changes of mood, too. But lighting is a major feature of any room design, and it’s crucial that it plays its part in the aesthetic of the space, too.

From pendants and chandeliers to wall lights, floor and table lamps, plus lights for illuminating artwork, lighting stairs and more, there is a wealth of choices that can elevate the room as well as act functionally.

Here, we’re showcasing lighting ideas for rooms around the home to inspire your interior design.

Lighting ideas

All the different lighting types – ambient, task, and feature – can be beautiful in their own right, and these lighting ideas tick the boxes for style as well as practicality.

1. Bring warmth to a living area

A living room with blue and white soft furnishings, blue armchairs, green sofa, and low hanging chandelier

(Image credit: Ian Baldwin)

Prioritize the atmosphere of the living room when shortlisting lighting ideas. 'Warmth is the most important factor when lighting a living area,’ says Peter Legg, lead designer at där lighting.

‘This is a cozy space, so you want to feel enveloped and comforted while using it. Aim for an even spread of light to avoid any harsh contrasts. One way to do this is through an armed ceiling light or a chandelier which will rebound light across the room.'

Of course, living room lighting ideas should be carefully planned so that the effect created by the aesthetics of the light fittings in daylight is just as impactful as that of the lighting scheme itself at night.

2. Choose statement pendants for the kitchen

Large kitchen with dark and white cabinetry, central island, pendant lights and wood floor

(Image credit: Hudson Valley Lighting Group)

Kitchen lighting ideas, just like those of the living room are as much about visual impact in daylight as they are about practicality and functionality. 

Consider boldly scaled pendant lights to hang over a kitchen island. Attention-grabbing in their own right, kitchen island lighting also makes the island itself even more of a feature of the room. 

If you’re concerned the sizeable lights will block views through the room, follow this room’s example and opt for those made with clear glass. Gold detail in these designs echoes that in handles as well the legs of the stools and the faucet for a consistent use of materials. 

3. Elevate a bathroom

Bathroom with grey vanity, freestanding bathtub and shower, stool, and chandelier

(Image credit: Katie Davis Design Photograph: Kerry Kirk)

Turn up the dial on decoration in your wash space with a bathroom chandelier. ‘I always tell clients to invest in lighting,’ says Katie Davis of Katie Davis Design, who created this room. ‘Bathroom lighting is a game changer. The right chandelier or pendant can give you a major design moment, and make a space feel instantly elevated.’

Generally bathroom ceiling lights don’t have to be damp-rated designs, leaving your choices wide open, but do bear in mind that some areas, like that over the shower, need lights suitable for the location. Choose lights rated for the particular area of the room, which is divided into zones for this purpose. 

4. Add living room wall lights

Living room with sconces above mantel on green chimney, armchair, rug and wood floor

(Image credit: Hudson Valley Lighting Group)

Don’t neglect the potential that living room wall lighting ideas have to offer. In this room, a symmetrical pair of wall sconces on the chimney highlights this feature of the room even when the fire itself isn’t lit.

In pairs, or as single fittings, wall lights can make any part of the room inviting in this way. They’re also a great solution for smaller spaces avoiding the need to give up floor or table space to a lamp.

5. Select the right bedroom lighting positions 

Bedroom with bed and footstools, nightstands, vaulted ceiling with pendant, white walls, and wood floor with rug

(Image credit: The Design Buzz)

Bedroom ceiling light ideas should be carefully located in relation to the bed when realizing lighting ideas for the room.

‘It is best not to position any bedroom lighting over the top of the bed where your pillows are as this is too harsh when you are lying in bed,’ explains Shalini Misra, interior designer and founder of Shalini Misra and The Design Buzz. ‘Placing an interesting, statement light in the center of the ceiling provides a great focal point and design interest in the room, especially if you are keeping a muted palette in the space.’

6. Fall for kitchen wall lighting

Kitchen wall lighting ideas with black wall downlight

(Image credit: Future / Carolyn Barber)

Make food preparation safe with adequate illumination for kitchen countertops. Kitchen wall lighting ideas can avoid the problem of working in a shadow, which can occur when lights are directly behind a person standing at the counter.

While linear LED lighting is an alternative, wall lights are a decorative addition to the room as well as a functional one, and industrial-style designs like this one are one of the many handsome choices on offer.

7. Illuminate bedroom storage

Bedroom with bed, floor lamp and view through to wardrobe with glass doors

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

Plan a layer of bedroom lighting that will make it easier to dress. Canned lights can do some of the work, as can clever closet lighting ideas.

‘In the bedroom of this penthouse, we positioned downlights so that they wash light down the front of the closet doors,’ says Irene Gunter, founder of design agency Gunter & Co.  ‘This not only highlights the beauty of the wood, but when the doors are open, the light also helps to illuminate the interior.

‘I would also recommend strips of LED lighting mounted along drawers and shelves inside, which turn on when you open the doors.’

8. Exploit the potential of lighting materials

Dining room with table and chairs, and pendant light above, chest of drawers and fireplace

(Image credit: Davey Lighting)

Think materials when selecting lighting for living spaces. ‘Materials are just as important as style when choosing lighting for your living room,’ explains Charlie Bowles, director of Original BTC

This design is made with geometric bone china tiles and Charlie says, ‘Bone china is an ideal choice, bringing a lovely softness of finish and a beautifully translucent glow. This soft light is ideal for creating a cozy atmosphere that makes you feel instantly comfortable and relaxed.’

9. Use lighting to attract the eye

Entryway with patterned wallpaper, artwork with light over and white paneling below

(Image credit: Katie Davis Design Photograph: Melissa Fitzgerald West)

Considered use of lighting can concentrate attention where you want it – this can be particularly useful for entryway lighting ideas and hallway lighting. ‘In this entry, the ceilings extend to the third floor,’ says Katie Davis of Katie Davis Design. ‘In an effort to make the area feel like a singular space, even though it was three stories high, we installed downlighting on the art. It encourages visitors to keep focused at eye level versus looking up.’

10. Create task lighting in a home office

White home office with bespoke storage wall

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin / Future)

Home office lighting ideas needn't just be functional, so don’t just think table lamps to provide light for a home office desk. A floor lamp can provide the even glow that‘s necessary to avoid eye strain and make for an elegant feature of the room, too. It can also provide a wider pool of illumination for a shared desk.

How do I get good lighting at home?

To get good lighting at home, always think about layers of light. ‘We love to layer lighting in a room,’ says Katie Davis of Katie Davis Design. ‘It’s important to me that all of the light in a space doesn’t come from the ceiling, and that there is light at different heights in the room. 

‘If you layer a floor lamp, sconce, table lamp and pendants with canned lighting, for instance, it allows a space to easily transition for the mood you are in or the event you are having, ultimately making a space more dynamic. Considering factors like wattage helps this, too.’

How can I add mood lighting to a room?

To add mood lighting to a room, use dimmable fixtures so the light levels can be adjusted easily. As well as for spaces like living rooms and bedrooms, that goes for kitchens, too, so that once food preparation and cooking is finished, a softer ambience can be created for dining or relaxing in the space.

Lights on different circuits are also helpful, allowing perimeter lights, for example, to be switched off independently from central lighting for a more intimate feel.

Pay attention to color temperature, too. It’s measured in Kelvins, and for warm light, opt for lower numbers of 2,700 to 3,000K; at 3,100K and up light will appear cooler.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.