How to Choose the Lighting for Your Home

Lighting is such a powerful thing; it's one of the key elements that turn your house into a home. While its primary role is to illuminate the house, it also plays a vital role in setting the ambience and mood in a home. Besides functionality, home lighting is also a major design element. Adequate illumination is essential as it allows you to see better, perform tasks easily, makes you feel more comfortable and safer, and lets you enjoy your home at its full potential. Lighting options are available in a wide range of budgets, colours brightness levels, styles, designs, and tones, plus technology even offers energy-saving lighting options. With so much to choose from, getting the right lighting for your home may seem daunting at times. But, today, we are helping you learn the basics and offering the right tools to help you create your own lighting design plan for your home.

1. First, Know the Basics

Before you buy any lighting options, it's important to first learn some lighting basics, which include:

  • More light doesn't necessarily translate to better lighting; if anything, think quality over quantity.
  • The primary role of lighting is to illuminate space, so try to put light where it's actually needed and keep lower light levels where it's not.
  • Always consider the available natural light when selecting artificial light so as to balance functionality and aesthetics.
  • Lighting affects how you feel in a space.
  • Good lighting is all about matching light levels to the tasks being performed in a specific area. For instance, a kitchen will require a brightly lit island while the bedroom requires dimmer lights to provide a soothing environment to induce sleep.

2. Determine Your Lighting Goals

Light can be used for a number of things. Generally, lighting function falls in one of the following categories:

  • Ambient Lighting: Serves the primary role of illuminating the room and is often considered as the main source of light.
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  • Task Lighting: Designed to light a particular area where specific activities are performed.
Home office
  • Accent Lighting: Plays a more decorative role by highlighting particular areas in your home like a work of art, fireplace, staircase, etc.
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Most people use ambient overhead light as their primary or only source of light. This strategy is often not enough and will ultimately disappoint. Every room should aim to have 2-3 sources of light to achieve a nice balance. Plus, having a variety of light sources makes your spaces more flexible. For instance, ambient lighting will help set the right mood when hosting a party, but combining it with task lighting allows you to read and write at your desk without straining your eyes.

3. Room Guidelines

The best way to get the right lighting for your home is to know how you plan on using the space. Think about which room lighting will go to, and where in the room you want different home lighting options to fall in. Here are some general room-by-room suggestions to get you started:


Good lighting is important in the entryway as it makes your home look inviting. Therefore, be sure to set an appropriate mood at the front door. Start by installing a large lamp or a chandelier in the entryway. If there's artwork displayed on the walls, use accent lights to highlight their beauty.

Living room

Most living rooms are multifunctional. It's where you read, entertain guests, play a game, or watch a movie. As such, it needs to have a good mix of lighting, including chandeliers and recessed lights for ambience, lamps for task lighting, and accent lighting to illuminate architectural and decorative areas.

Dining Room

This is probably the easiest room to light. Usually, chandeliers are a great choice because they add ambience, drama, and elegance throughout the entire room. A central chandelier is a popular choice, but you can choose to add several chandeliers or pendant lights over a long table or go for wall-mounted lights at eye level for a cosier setting. You can also add a task light or accent light to highlight a certain feature in the room.

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The kitchen definitely needs a combination of lighting. Buy recessed lights for general lighting as they are protected from dirt and grease and install task lighting to illuminate work surfaces such as over the kitchen island, sinks, and countertops.

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Choose dimmable overhead lighting for general lighting and task lights on nightstands for your bedtime reading.

Other than functionality, there are other things that determine the kind of lighting you put in every room. Think about your style; do you want a traditional or a contemporary look for your interior design? Remember to consider the shape, size, and layout or your room. For instance, avoid hanging pendants if you have a lower ceiling. To make smaller rooms appear larger, try a few tricks like using Uplighters to light all the four corners of the room and expand the space.

4. Pick Your Fixtures

Now that you know where, why, and how bright you want your home lighting to be, it's time to pick the best fixture that will optimise all those factors. Some of the common fixtures together with how and where they are commonly used include:

  • Chandeliers: Used for general or ambient lighting, mostly in dining rooms. They also make a statement in a room.
  • Pendants: They hang from the ceiling and can be used for general or task lighting, preferably in the dining room and work areas in the kitchen like countertops.
  • Lamps: Great for the task and accent lighting.
  • Sconces: They are mounted directly to the wall and offer task lighting throughout the house. They are ideal for bathroom mirrors, showcasing artwork, not to mention they offer a decorative way to light your hallways than overhead lighting.
  • Flush and semi-flush mounts: These fixtures lie against the ceiling, making them the perfect choice for a lower ceiling.
  • Recessed lights: This can be used virtually anywhere. It all depends on their brightness levels and where they are located.

5. Choose the Right Bulb

The bulb is the light source, meaning the type you choose will determine the kind of light you get. There are different types of bulbs and they all perform differently. Here's a quick rundown on the most common options:

Incandescent: Most like the sun, they produce a warm, glowing light. These traditional bulbs are best for chandeliers and floor or table lamps. They have, however, started to phase out in favour of more energy-efficient options.

Halogen: Provide bright, white, and warm light, similar to natural daylight. They are great for task lighting. They, however, can get quite hot to touch and consume a lot of energy, but less than an incandescent bulb.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs): They emit a cooler tone, but you can also find them in a range of temperatures and brightness levels. They are ideal for areas that don't get much traffic such as hallways, garages, and the basement. They last longer and are more energy-efficient. It's worth noting that they require careful handling and disposal.

LEDs: They emit a harsh, direct like and make colours look great. Though a bit pricey, they last the longest and save most energy.

6. Create the Combo

Finally, it's time to round up your entire home lighting scheme. We recommend taking screenshots of all potential lights and viewing them side by side. Think of how they work together. For instance, is there a colour that works best for your space? What varying textures can you include? How can you combine the lights to achieve functionality and aesthetics? Your lighting doesn't have to be excessively colour-coordinated, but at least let it feel cohesive.


Don't be afraid to choose lighting for your home. Hopefully, this guide will help you make an informed decision. At Build It Yourself, we are a construction consultancy business, providing professional services in architectural design, structural engineering, construction programme, interior design, quantity survey, and paint colour consultant. Our qualified professionals will help you manage the building/renovation/extension project of your own home. For more information, contact us today!