19 Secrets for Getting Good Lighting in Every Spot Around Your Home

updated Oct 13, 2022
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Credit: Lula Poggi

Nothing makes or breaks a room quite like lighting. It changes the mood, sets the ambiance, and can help define spaces like living and dining rooms or nooks and kitchens, particularly in open-concept layouts. Plus, why settle for bad lighting when the fun, functional options out there are endless?

If you think about it, your bedroom can become a whole different space when you customize it with the perfect reading lamp for staying up to finish that novel. You won’t dread a day’s work nearly as much either if your desk (or makeshift dining room table desk) is lit up properly.

With an unlimited number of lamps, flush mounts, pendants, and task lights available, you can purposefully transform all your rooms—the hardest part will just be picking out styles that work with your decor. 

If your spaces are looking less than brilliant, take a few of these tips with you the next time you shop for a new lighting fixture or try to reconfigure your lighting situation in any part of your home. 

All Around the House

These tips can be applied to most rooms in your home and will help you get a sense of what to look for when you’re shopping for new lighting fixtures and installing them in your space. In general, it’s best to:

  • Include at least three sources of light in each room: General lighting (overhead or pendant), Specific lighting (task or table), and Ambient lighting (sconces, candles, or decorative).
  • Maximize natural light by keeping your windows clean—it’s cheap, simple, and really does make a difference.
  • Choose the right shade for your fixtures: White shades let more light pass through but can create a colder tone, while colored shades will tint light, making it appear creamier, warmer, or cooler, depending on the hue you choose.
  • Incorporate reflective surfaces into your home; mirrors, glossy floors, and metallic finishes will bounce light around a room.
  • Swap in more decorative lighting for builder-grade fixtures to change the look of your room.


Cooking, baking, and at-home happy hours can all benefit from good lighting. When it comes to your kitchen specifically, it’s important to keep in mind that your lighting should not only set the mood but also help you see properly for all your chopping, searing, and kneading.

  • Under-cabinet lighting can be extremely useful. It can illuminate your countertops while you work and can be turned off with the flick of a switch when you need more ambiance. 
  • Light the dark corners of your kitchen that include features like shelves, counters, cupboards, and pantries. Areas like these are often neglected, but they become more functional and beautiful when properly lit.
  • Pendant lamps can be a fun and functional option above kitchen sinks, islands, and breakfast nooks. In the first two cases, they can help to illuminate the work triangle, which is where home chefs do their most prep, cooking, and clean up.
  • Consider uplighting your kitchen for a luxe touch that’s worth every penny. It provides a soft glow when you’re hanging out in the kitchen and highlights those cabinets you spent hours DIYing—or a good chunk of your kitchen update budget on.


Your bedroom is arguably one of—if not the most—important rooms in your home. It’s essential to get the lighting right in order to have a space you actually look forward to going to bed in. These tips will ensure you can set the mood for anything and make your bedroom relaxation-worthy.

  • Use candles safely for ambiance. Nothing helps to set the mood like a row of tealights in votives or a scented candle on your nightstand.
  • Bedside lamps with warm bulbs are a must. No one wants to leave the comfort of their covers to turn the lights out after reading—or to have to try to find the way back to the bed after flicking the switch at the door.
  • The latest techy alarm clock lights serve as a unique way to wake you up in the morning. They work well with your circadian rhythm by imitating a sunrise and will always feel better than flicking on harsh overhead lights.  

Living Room

Whether you use your living room for hosting friends, chilling after work, or challenging your partner at Scrabble, this room is incredibly versatile and often used in many different ways. It’s important that your lighting is just as adaptable as the room, and these ideas will help you make that happen.

  • Consider scale. Table lamps are great, but sometimes a large lantern, an oversized pendant, or a big sculptural floor lamp can add a focal point that every well-designed room should have
  • Add a dimmer switch to your overheads. This allows you to easily change the mood and brightness of your lighting depending on the time of day. It’s also perfect for making those at-home movie nights feel like they’re happening in a legit theater. 
  • Make sure to light darker corners. There’s always that one dim spot in the living room that makes it impossible to do anything once the sun goes down. Add a lamp for a subtle glow that’ll instantly cozy up your space.
  • Try a chandelier. While these types of installations are often reserved for dining rooms and entryways, it’s a fun way to personalize your living room.


Your powder rooms and full baths probably aren’t the first places you think of when it comes to getting your lighting just right. This can be the difference between a serene escape and a nightmarish, fluorescently-lit area though. Follow these tips for bringing a sense of calmness back to your bath.

  • Install vanity lighting or lights around your mirrors. When you get ready in the morning, you’ll be thankful for the soft glow that radiates from these types of lights versus the typical harsh overhead lighting that can cast odd shadows.
  • Opt for daylight-simulating light bulbs. If you’re someone who wears makeup, you’ll be able to see how your face will actually look outside of your home much better than under fluorescent bulbs.
  • Bring in candles to use for bath time and unwinding. Nothing compares to the soft glow of candlelight, so it’s worth having a few on hand when you’re doing a face mask or taking a bubble bath.