Interior lighting: Guidelines for great design

Izelle du Pisanie Izelle du Pisanie
Bajo comercial convertido en loft (Terrassa), Egue y Seta Egue y Seta Rustic style dining room
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It is a well-known fact that lighting contributes enormously to the feeling of any room, and can promote or hamper a good atmosphere, depending on its quality. A lighting scheme is a very important and often overlooked tool in interior design that is not only absolutely essential for functionality, but also rich in aesthetic possibilities. It is clear to see that a good lighting scheme is necessary for every room in a house. 

A good place to always start when design an indoor lighting scheme, is with professional lighting designer. Here on homify we have more than 300 lighting designers and companies to choose from in providing guidance on a home's lighting scheme. If you are working on a tight budget or want to do things yourself, however, here is a basic guide on how to design interior lighting in your home for optimal effect. 

Keep it coherent

A good rule of thumb to use when designing a lighting scheme for a room, and especially for social rooms, is to keep it coherent. It is important that the lights in a room work together both for utility and for aesthetic value. Too many sources of light may be futile, only lighting the floor and making the room feel more enclosed. This is particularly relevant for small rooms and spaces. 

Different sources of light can be used in conjunction with one another, but each of them must have a functional purpose. This can be easily achieve by planning out the space and exactly where which type of fitting will go. 

Dividing the space

When it comes to designing lighting for big spaces, it will be necessary to divide the scheme according to utility. This is especially relevant in open-plan houses. Different lighting can be used in different parts of the space according to its function. 

At this point it is necessary to differentiate between task lighting and mood lighting. Task lighting refers to lights specifically fitted to fulfil a certain function like lighting a work area. Mood lighting, on the other hand, is employed to manipulate the ambiance of the space. A well-planned, large space will have both of these.  

What is also important is to have the different sets of lighting on different circuits in order to be able to use only the set of lights needed at any given time. 

From up above

Ceiling lamps are the first fittings that come to mind when thinking about interior lighting. It is ubiquitous in modern homes and come in endless shapes and sizes. Ceiling lamps are valuable fittings as the right type can distribute light across an entire room from a central point. It is cost-effective and economical is usage of space. 

Although it is effectively used in various spaces for different purposes, ceiling lamps are ideal in settings where there is something that should be the focal point. Think of a dining room where the table is by far the focus of the area. A bright and low-hanging ceiling lamp will be ideal to draw attention to every meal.

Down to earth

Floor lamps is another alternative, or supplement to ceiling lamps. It also has the added benefits of mobility and proximity: it can be easily moved from one space to the next if necessary, and it can provide more intimate light closer to the desired illumination area. 

The placement of a floor lamp must also be carefully considered. For example, to have it shining right in people's eyes is not a good idea. It should be close to sitting areas, though, and near furniture instead to the walls, in order to provide optimal lighting of the area. 


Now we get to table lamps—a useful and even more flexible solution. Although table lamps are often not used as primary light source in a room, it can be very strategic. What's more, it is an easily available option that can be more suited to the design scheme of a room. It can be just as decorative as it is functional. 

Shades for table lamps should be used to change the brightness and colour of the light in the room to manipulate the atmosphere as what would be most fitting for the particular space. 

Close up

A reading lamp is probably one of the most useful lighting inventions, since it fulfils a specific function. Getting large lighting fixtures to provide the necessary brightness of light in all spaces can be a difficult situation to which a reading lamp is the perfect solution. 

What makes reading lamps great is its specificity, but this can also be restrictive. Reading lamps can't be a main source of light in a room and is not of much more use than for the specific task at hand. In the light of this, reading lamps should be used sparingly and only where it is truly necessary.

Modern alternatives

Lighted signs and symbols have become an increasingly popular trend in contemporary interior design. This is a modern alternative to mood lighting with endless possibilities, due to its potential for individualisation. 

A lighted sign may not be as functional as other lighting options, and will never be a main source of light in any room, but it can certainly contribute to a space's character and ambiance. Why not be bold and give it a try?

So, that's it for indoor lighting design, but here is some info on outdoor lighting to continue the lighting spree. 

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