Room-by-Room Interior Lighting Guide | Indoor Lighting Tips

Indoor lighting design tips for every roomLighting is an often underestimated part of our homes and businesses. Besides having a huge impact on aesthetics and functionality, it can also have profound effects on your mood, emotions, and wellbeing. As the days get shorter and shorter and we approach the darker days of fall and winter, it’s important to emphasize just how important our indoor lighting is. How can you change the light in your home for a happier and more productive you? Fortunately, there is a lot of scientific research on the effects of light that can help with your interior lighting design. Instead of remodeling your home, you may just a need a slight tweaking of your lighting scheme.

Psychological and Physiological Effects of Light

In one study that changed the color and lighting of a schoolroom to be lighter and less intense, children were less fidgety and more well-behaved. “Professor Wohlfarth said the minute amounts of electromagnetic energy that compose light affect one or more of the brain's neurotransmitters, chemicals that carry messages from nerve to nerve and from nerve to muscle” (NYT). Studies have also been conducted on rats and other mammals that demonstrates the effect light has on melatonin, which has been found to determine the body’s output of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, behavior, appetite, sleep, memory, and desire. Whether you want to get a good night’s sleep o improve your relationships and productivity at home, an interior lighting change may just be the solution. Lighting is both an art and a science — it can affect our mood, appetite, and sleep. In order to implement an effective lighting strategy for your home, you will need a professional that fully understands electrical systems and lighting design. Besides the technical knowledge required, the person installing your lighting should also be concerned with mood, aesthetics, safety, and enjoyment. Unless you are simply replacing your light bulbs, you will want to consult a professional before redesigning your indoor lighting. Putting new fixtures in requires the skills of a professional, which might include running new wiring through walls, installing new fixtures, or adding an additional circuit. If you do decide to install any lighting fixtures yourself, make sure you know exactly what you are doing as it is easy to unintentionally create fire and electrocution hazards. Whether you make any electrical changes or not, it’s important to have all of your DIY electrical projects checked out by a professional during your yearly electrical safety inspection. In addition to the technical expertise required to install new lighting for your home, a professional will also be able to help you with the design.

Lighting Design Factors:

Although we can give you some general guidelines for how to light the different rooms in your home, every home is different and requires specialized attention. Take this guide as a starting point, but remember that you will probably need to consult with a professional in order to get your space exactly how you want it. Remember, that color is also a huge contributor to your psychological and physiological states. The color of your rooms combined with the color temperature of your lighting can mean the difference between feeling sluggish and depressed or lively and optimistic.

Lighting Design Layers

Most lighting designers think in terms of three main lighting categories:

1. General or Ambient Lighting

These are called "general" or "ambient" because they are simply used to make an interior space visible. They provide general lighting for a space and are sometimes used to refer to natural, or existing light. Think of general/ambient light as natural light combined with light coming from normal room lights.

2. Task Lighting

Task lighting is directed lighting toward a specific area to give more detail to objects and provide safe passage. Any close-range work such as cooking, sewing, drawing, and writing should have task lighting—enough to see a flaws in canvas and clothing.

3. Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to "accentuate" features and add visual interest to an object or area. It's the extra special something that makes people go "oooh" and "aaahh." Use accent lights to add drama and change the mood of a room.

Lighting Fixture Types

It can be useful to sort lighting fixture types into a couple main categories to make your lighting design a little easier:

1. Surface Lights

Surface-mounted fixtures are visible and are usually flush against the ceiling or wall. They are most commonly used in entryways, hallways, and bedrooms.

2. Pendant Lights

Pendant fixtures hang down from the ceiling by a cord, cable, or chain. They are usually found in dining rooms and kitchens, especially in home with higher ceilings.

3. Recessed Lights

Recessed lighting is hidden away, usually in a ceiling cavity, so you can't see the light source directly. This type of indirect lighting, usually in the form of downlight/potlights, can be used effectively in any room of the home. Just be careful not to go overboard as you want a variety of light sources and types

4. Track Lights

Track lighting can provide a lot of flexible lighting options. There are multiple bulbs on one track, with multiple circuits and voltages. You can choose to have them suspended from the ceiling like pendant lights or surface-mounted, like surface light. The variety of finished, colors, and styles can be overwhelming, so speak with a lighting professional before making a final decision.

5. Portable Lights

Portable lights are just what you would expect them to be — portable. They are usually plugged into an electrical outlet by their cord, however, battery-operated portable fixtures are becoming more and more popular. Portable lights are typically uses for desks and bedside tables. You can sometimes achieve the look you are looking for by adding some floor lamps to the area. The key to lighting design is to have a variety of fixtures, color temperatures, and styles.

6. Landscape Lighting

We aren't focusing on landscape (or outdoor) lighting in this article, but you should know that they are a whole other category in itself. Landscape lighting encompasses bullet lights, flood lights, motion sensors, deck lighting, security lighting, and well and wash lights. From landscape lighting to security lighting, Hiller Electrical can handle all aspects of outdoor lighting installation, maintenance, and repair. Use the following diagrams as a guide for the different light fixtures' shape and type: types of indoor lighting fixturesdifferent types of light fixtures-1different types of light fixtures 2Source:

Light Bulb Types

Learn which light bulb goes into what lighting fixture with this diagram, provided by PG&E: light bulb and lighting fixture chart You can save a lot of money and energy by switching your incandescent lights with dimmable CFLs and LEDs, however, CFLs are not recommended for motion sensor devices. You can save even more by purchasing light fixtures that are specifically designed for LED and CFL bulbs. Learn more about LEDs from ENERGY STAR. Use the diagram below to compare different types of light bulbs and lamps: different types of lighting types - lamps and bulbs Source:

Color Temperature

CCT (Correlated Color Temperature) is the measure of the light’s color appearance. Light tends to fall into three different categories (all measured in Kelvin): Light color is measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. Lower numbers mean the light appears yellowish, and higher numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer. It’s important to take into consideration the color temperature of your lights. Consult the images below to find the color temperature of your choice: cool, neutral, and warm lighting temperatures in Kelvin (K)Kelvin Temperature ScaleSource: The scale shows the warmest colors at the bottom and the coolest colors at the top; naturally, the natural colors will fall in the middle. When shopping for light bulbs, you will probably notice these labels: soft white (2700K – 3000K), bright white/cool white (3500K – 4100K), and daylight (5000K – 6500K). Make sure you choosing the right color temperature bulb for your needs:
Adds a warm, cozy feel to the room, best for bedrooms and living rooms.
The whiter light is best for areas that require energy and focus, such as the kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and utility rooms.
This bright, blueish/whitish light is most similar to noon on a sunny day. This type of lighting is great for reading, projects, and other hobbies. Cooler light is better for areas where you need extra attention to detail, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Room-by-Room Interior Lighting Guide

A functional and decorative lighting scheme will almost always feature some combination of three basic layers: You will want different types of lighting depending on the room and its role. Are you trying to relax or focus? Do you want to highlight specific features of the room or are simply looking to light up the entire space evenly? Usually, your rooms will take some sort of combination or ambient, accent, and task lights.

Entry ways

interior lighting design for entry ways, hallways, and stairsSource: You should have the entry ways and hallways well-lit for family members and guests. The lighting should ensure safe passage from your entry to other areas of your home. Ceiling fixtures are perfect for this. They can provide you with the ambient light necessary to provide a warm welcoming.

Stairs and Hallways

Your stairs and hallways should be lit well enough to provide safety for the people that are using it. In your hallways, consider installing fixtures every 4-6 feet is an effective way of lighting the area, defining its forma and shape while also highlighting artwork and textures. Light can also be used to make the space seem more expansive, lighter, and spacious. Consider varied light sources, such as wall lights, wash lights, but it will all depend on the space of the room and the spacing of your fixtures.

Utility Rooms and Garages

Your utility rooms and garages, such as laundry and work spaces, will want plenty of ambient and recessed lighting. Your utility rooms require task lighting, which can be a combination of track lighting and pendant fixtures of higher illumination. Add some color and illumination to your utility rooms to focus on things such as sorting, mending, and fixing.


interior lighting design for bathroomSource: The primary objectives of your bathroom are safety, function, and aesthetics, as they are for most rooms. You should have bright light in your bathrooms that is even and shadow-free. We recommend recessed lighting for your bathroom since it frees up space and provides a clean, glare-free look.


interior lighting design for kitchenSource: Kitchens aren’t just places where you cook anymore. They have become a center point for the home and are used for a variety of tasks, including cooking, eating, working, cleaning, and hanging out. You will need plenty of ambient light, supplemented by some task lighting. You can add undercabinet lights to add visual interest and illuminate your work surfaces, combined with recessed lighting in your ceilings to reduce shadows and glare. If you have a kitchen island or breakfast nook, you can light it using a pendant light or chandelier (with a dimmer). Dimmers in your kitchen allow you to dim the lights for a more romantic atmosphere or raise the lights for adequate task lighting for hobbies and other work.

Dining Room

interior lighting design for dining roomSource: Dining rooms should have the most beautiful light fixtures. They are the focal point of the room, so invest in a good fixture for above the table. Typically, you will see a chandelier or some kind of pendant light above the dining room table, but you have other options as well, including track lighting and string pendants. Elegant glass can be used to dim the light and provide an almost candle-like feel. And as with most rooms, we recommend installing a dimmer so that you can control the illumination levels. For certain meals, you may want a soft glow, but for activities like board games and puzzles, you will want to make sure everything is lit up.

Living Rooms

interior lighting design for living roomSource: The family/living room is usually where families spend the most time. Sometimes the dining room is the living room. In any case, since we spend the majority of our waking hours in the living room, it’s especially important to have a lighting scheme that works for you. Keep in mind the activities that are performed in the living room— watching TV, working on the computer, reading, hanging out, and much more. For the living room, we recommend installing track lighting and adjustable recessed downlighting that can help highlight artwork, sculptures, and architectural details.


interior lighting design for officeSource: More and more people are working from home, which means that the home office is taking on a higher importance. In order to be focused and productive, you will want enough light for reading and other tasks. You may not need as much ambient light since accent and task lighting can usually provide enough illumination, but some sort of ambient/accent combination should be utilized. Darker offices require more ambient lighting as dark colors absorb more light. And consider the importance of natural light on productivity levels. You will want to choose your office space wisely, as windows can increase your health, happiness, and productivity. In one case study, a U.S. post office in Reno, NV renovated their lighting and saw an energy savings of $50,000, but the biggest savings came from increased work productivity. In the years that followed the lighting improvements, the Reno post office became the most productive sorters in the Western half of the country and their machine operators has the lowest error rates. Learn more about How Office Lighting Affects Productivity.

Bedroom Lighting

interior lighting design for bedroomSource: The bedroom is an extremely important area to pay attention to. You will want to take several factors into consideration, including the size and scale of the room. Bedrooms usually have some sort of ambient lighting combined with task lighting for reading and other tasks. Consider adding recessed lighting with dimmer controls above the head of the bed, but avoid installing lights directly above the bed. Smaller, light-colored bedrooms may not need as much ambient lighting. If you have a lot of mirrors in your bedroom, there may be enough reflective live from other lighting sources to compensate. If you have darker colors in your bedrooms, you might want to add some more ambient lighting. If you have artwork or details that you want to highlight, consider adding accent lighting. A game-changer for the bedroom are dimmer and other lighting controls. This gives you the ability to control the light levels for different lights in your room. You can change the lighting situation depending on your mood at the moment. Other tips for bedroom lighting include: Bedroom Interior Lighting Design Tips

General Interior Lighting Tips

What Sets Hiller Apart?

Hiller Plumbing, Heating & Cooling handles many different electrical services, including indoor and outdoor lighting. If you are interested in improving or re-doing your home’s indoor lighting, give us a call and we'll send a professional lighting architect to your home.
Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, & Electrical provides residential and commercial electrical service and repair throughout Tennessee, Southern Kentucky, and Northern Alabama. With our mantra, “Happy You’ll Be or the Service is Free!” we are dedicated to resolving any issue with our services within 48 hours, or your money back! Keep up with all of our news and updates by following us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramLinkedIn, and Pinterest. We are available 24/7 to help with any plumbingHVAC, or electrical problems you may have (holidays included).