My Coastal Home

How to Light Your Home for Maximum Effect


Whether you are undergoing major renovations right now, or just touching up a couple of things around the house to make it homier and more to your liking, lighting is an essential piece of the puzzle.

Lights are important for two main reasons:

  1. Turning the home into a fully functional space
  2. Creating a cosy atmosphere, that you enjoy spending your time in

With that in mind, we will go through a list of tips that will help you to choose your lights accordingly and create the best possible lighting scheme to make the most out of your space.

The Types of Lights

A lighting scheme incorporates different types of lights:

  • General lights which light up the entire space
  • Task lights that are used for lighting up specific areas and angles where different tasks take place
  • Accent lights which have more of decorative purpose as opposed to a functional one

A Different Room – A Different Story

Every room in the home has a different purpose – so there the lighting scheme you create for one room, will probably not apply to another.

For example, if you have a home office, you should probably think about adding task lights in various corners where activities like reading or writing take place, while a laundry will be well served even without that many lighting layers.

In other words, before deciding which lights to use, you first need to consider the purpose of each room and think about particular parts of the room you would like to accentuate, or a feeling you might want to create.

Knowing how hard juggling all possible choices must be, I’ve made sure to go through each room’s lighting basics, and create a simple blueprint you can follow when choosing your lights.

Living Room. Living rooms are the heart of the home – they are the center of various activities in one’s life, be it family gatherings, movie nights, work-related all-nighters, or just cuddling up and relaxing with a book.

In living rooms, a general light is obviously a must, but to achieve maximum effect and full functionality, general lighting has to be combined with 1. task lights like table lamps or floor lamps for those little nooks that you use for relaxation of work, and 2. accent lights that put the focus on the room’s décor like a bookcase, a decorative plant or a piece of art.

Ambient light: anywhere from 1500 to 3000 lumens

Task light: 400 lumens minimum

Kitchen. Kitchens are another place that is used constantly and for multiple purposes, be it for preparing food or spending some quality time around the table with the closest family members. Kitchens, just like other multi-purpose rooms need layered lights, with a heavy focus on task and undercabinet lights to light up the countertop, the sink, and so on.

A kitchen would also benefit greatly from natural light (the more, the better).  Moreover, windows serve a double purpose – not only do they provide light and make the room look bigger, but they also enable ventilation and air circulation.

If you have a dining room beside a kitchen table or aisle, make sure to place a light over the table as the central and most important part of the room.

Ambient light: anywhere from 5000 – 10000 lumens

Task light: 450 lumens minimum

Bathroom. Bathrooms are where grooming takes place, so naturally, apart from the general lights, they also need lights focused on specific areas like the mirror. Lights can be placed above the mirror, but it would be even better if there are lights on each of the mirror’s sides, to cover a wider area and avoid the shadows which an overhead light would cast.

Ambient light: anywhere from 4000 to 8000 lumens

Task light: 1700 lumens minimum

Bedroom. Bedrooms are for relaxation, so even dim general light will do. However, you need to choose task lights accordingly. Focus one light on the closet, a couple of them around your vanity, and don’t forget to include a lamp on your nightstand, which will come in handy for those nights when you want to unwind before sleep, with a book on your lap.

Ambient light: anywhere from 2000 to 4000 lumens

Task light: 500 lumens minimum

The in-betweens: Entries, hallways, and stairs. Last, but not least, we need to mention those places that serve as a “bridge” from one place of the home to the other. In-between spaces like entries, hallways and stairs are okay with just some ambient lighting, although, if you use your in-betweens to showcase different pieces of art or décor, you might want to consider adding accent lights as well.

Ambient light: anywhere from 1200 to 4000 lumens

Ambient light: between 1200 and 2500 lumens

Final Tips

  • To ensure that each room is lit up perfectly, before you actually go ahead and choose the lights, make sure to find out as many details as possible about the space where you plan to place them: we’re talking furniture layout, colours, and various other details (like artwork) that might need special attention.

  • Each one of the light types (general, accent and task) offers a variety of choices: recessed lights, track fixtures, pendant lights and so on. The easiest option to go for is choosing recessed lights, but I would recommend that you use them sparingly, and only if no other type of lighting can help you achieve your purpose. Downlights may be cheap and easy to install, but they are fairly simple and not ecstatically pleasing (at least not as much as other alternatives).

  • Find a way to maximize natural light in your home. Installing windows and skylights is more expensive than just adding a light bulb or two, but natural light comes with no maintenance costs and no electricity bills.


  • Get inspired by your surrounding. Go out and check some trendy places in your town. Usually, these places hire professional designers to decorate the space and create their lighting schemes, so just by going around, you will be able to see what is currently trending, and most importantly, what you fancy and what choices you would rather not make when it comes to your design.


  • Creating an exciting lighting scheme works best if you own your house since as a renter you might not be able to do much about the current installations, or you might not want to spend too much money on renovations. That said, with various types of lights to choose from, creating the perfect look in your rental might be harder than if you own the place, but it is far from impossible!


Author Bio: Lisa Wetherell runs the blog Lighting House – where she writes about her knowledge gained from 10 years of industry experience in the lighting and interior design field. To learn more about how lighting can improve your space, you can follow her blog.


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