Types of Lighting in Interior Design

Sally Painter
Luxury Living Room

There are three major categories of lighting used in interior design. One is essential low lighting that provides practical lighting needs. Another addresses task lighting requirement and the third one gives accent lighting options. Some lighting choices have more than one type of application, making them versatile and valuable lighting options.

Low Lighting

Low lighting is the basic type of lighting that provide general lighting to an interior.

Some low lighting choices include:

  • Ceiling lights: Ceiling lights are the most commonly used form of house lighting. Mounted flush to the ceiling, these lights provide low-light. They are typically attached to a wall switch.
  • Recessed lighting: When placed on a dimmer switch, recessed lighting can be used for ambient ceiling lighting.
  • Table lamps: If you want a truly cozy ambience, try adding a shaded table lamp on an occasional table. The ambient effect is immediate.
  • Torchière lamps: A torchière floor or table lamp reflects light toward the ceiling. This lighting option brightens up any corner or area in a room.
  • Chandeliers: A chandelier is one of the most dramatic types of fixtures. Some chandelier designs provide both uplighting and downlighting.

Task Lighting

Direct lighting is necessary for tasks that require more light than ordinary ceiling lights can provide. For example, task lighting is beneficial for activities such as reading, working at a desk, cooking and other chores.

Some notable task lighting choices include:

  • Under cabinet lighting: Typically mounted beneath a cabinet, under cabinet lighting added to a kitchen, workshop or craft room provides excellent task lighting.
  • Pendant: Pendant lights are popular in kitchens and some bathroom designs. Suspended from the ceiling, these lights provide direct overhead lighting to work areas.
  • desk illuminated by desk lamp
    Desk lamps: A desk lamp, especially one with a movable arm or goose neck is an ideal task light.
  • Table lamps: A table lamp can provide needed lighting for a desk work space, living room or bedside table. For example, a pair of buffet table lamps can be just the right touch for serving dinners.
  • Wall sconces: Some areas requiring task lighting might not be ideal for table lamps that would take up valuable storage, work, or serving surfaces. In these spaces, wall sconces that provide downlight can be a good alternative for task lighting.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight specific areas, artwork, or various sections of a room.

  • Recessed lighting: Recessed lighting provides a subtle way to illuminate the perimeter of a room, add softer lighting to rooms, illuminate bookcases, or provide under cabinet lighting.
  • Wall sconces: Wall sconces are a great mood-setter for a room. Whether it provides uplighting or downlighting, this type of light fixture can brighten a hallway, provide additional lighting for a dining room buffet, or free up floor and surface space in a bathroom.
  • Track lighting: Popularized in the 1970s, track lighting is still a favorite choice for many people wishing to highlight works of art. It can also be used to provide uplighting or downlighting.
  • Ceiling Lighting
    Picture lighting: Art buffs enjoy picture lighting that can be place directly above a painting. This type of light fixture provides direct downlighting to highlight the work of art.
  • Cove lighting: Cove lighting is used for ceilings, especially tray ceilings (also referred to as trey ceilings), valances, and ledges. The lighting strip is placed between the cove and the ceiling.

Choosing Your Lighting Options

Lighting plays a major design role in the overall success of any room décor. Lighting should be layered the same way colors and textures are layered in a room. There are many options when it comes to home décor lighting. Adding a layer or two of additional lighting sources gives your room design greater light depth.

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Types of Lighting in Interior Design