How Lighting Affects the Look and Feel of Your Design


 Interior design is about more than creating pretty spaces; it’s about creating function that works for the people who inhabit them. The marriage of form and function can be difficult to get right if all elements are not thoughtfully considered. One of the most commonly neglected elements of interior design is also one of the most important: lighting. Lighting interior spaces requires skill and attention to detail. The use of the space, the availability of natural light, and the vast array of choices for bulbs and fixtures all factor into lighting design. It can be helpful to treat the lighting of a space as it’s own design element. Take the time to carefully think through your lighting concept, and you’ll see that the results are worth the effort.

There are three basic elements of lighting: general, task, and accent lighting. These lighting elements can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to create lighting concepts that are functional and beautiful. General lighting refers to lighting that illuminates a general area. These types of fixtures include flush mount and semi flush mount fixtures, chandeliers, pendant lights and more. Task lighting refers to lighting that is used to increase visibility via the use of brightness and contrast. Task lighting fixtures typically include reading lamps, track lighting, library lights, and more. Accent lighting refers to light fixtures that create ambiance such as sconces, table lamps, and twinkle lights.


When designing your space, consider what kind of light is needed in the room. Consider the intensity and quality of natural daylight as well as the direction from which it comes. In a space with abundant natural light, you may choose a more minimal lighting concept. Consider that lighting may only be used in the evenings and set the mood accordingly. For example, in a living room, you may not need an overhead light, but rather opt for a fan instead. You can create pockets of light throughout the room that set the mood in the evenings for relaxed lounging by placing table lamps strategically. A good rule of thumb when deciding where to place a table lamp is to focus attention on the corners of a room to ensure there are no dark areas and the room is enveloped with light from all angles. Try to place the lamps fairly equidistant from one another to ensure an evenly distributed light pattern. Also consider where light may be needed for activities like reading. A reading lamp can be placed next to a chair to create a cozy reading corner with focused rather than ambient light.

In a space with minimal natural daylight, it is usually best to try to incorporate all types of lighting in order to meet the needs of those using the space. For example, in a bathroom with very little light, you may choose to use an overhead light for general lighting, sconces by the mirror for accent lighting, and a magnifying mirror with focused light for task lighting.

Wherever you use light, it is vitally important to consider color temperature and brightness. There is no right or wrong when it comes to color temperature, however there are a few things to consider. Lower color temperatures in the 2700K range create very warm, yellowish light. This quality of light creates a relaxed ambiance with a warm glow. Color temperatures in the 5000K range are very white and bright with a cool tone that can feel almost fluorescent. We recommend somewhere in the middle with most spaces. A color temperature of 3500K is typically the sweet spot between warm and bright. Whatever color temperature you choose, make sure that it is consistent throughout. Just keep in mind that color temperature affects the way colors appear. For example, white walls may appear yellowish under a 2700K bulb or bluish under a 5000K bulb. Feel free to try different types of bulbs to figure out what is best for your space.


Whether you choose to create a dark, moody bedroom, or a bright, airy kitchen, choose your light fixtures with intentionality. Remember, lighting can make or break a design. Take the time to put as much care and thought into your lighting concepts as you do into the rest of the design and your space will shine.

Brenda Thompson | Owner, Interior Designer | HouseLift Design 

I’m Brenda Thompson, owner and the main face behind HouseLift Design. I have a small, but mighty team that works hard to create beautiful spaces that feel good and put together. It’s our passion! We’d love the opportunity to help you love the home you live in and give it just the HouseLift it needs. We make the process easy and handle everything from start to finish! The first step is to schedule a complimentary 15min phone consultation so we can discuss the wish list you have for your home and determine how we might be able to help. I discovered my love for interior design as a young teen. I was always painting furniture or walls and updating spaces for family and friends. I graduated with a degree in Marketing/Communications and spent the first twenty years of my career as a corporate girl, but always maintained my love for design. After prompting from several friends and my husband, I decided to turn my dream into a reality and the thought of giving people’s homes a facelift was born via HouseLift Design.

Learn more about working with Brenda Thompson of HouseLift Design through her eDesign Tribe member profile!

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