Using Ambient Lighting to Augment Every Room

Using Ambient Lighting to Augment Every Room

Jeff Heaton
Dec 8, 2011

Light is faint visual background noise: always there, only noticed when it's bad. Beyond meeting many simple needs, lighting can improve work and enhance play. Effective ambient lighting subtly brings to light (pardon our pun) the tasks we grapple with, and can do so in nearly every area of our lives. Here's how we're augmenting our home with ambient light.


The kitchen very clearly benefits from better lighting. The ability to see the food you're chopping, mixing and making means a better end product. Ambient lighting in the kitchen can take the form of under-cabinet lights, be it in light rope or individual LED lights, in-cabinet lighting or spot lighting from above. Under-cabinet light makes it easier to see your cutting board or get a midnight snack without turning everything on. In-cabinet lighting makes it easy to see that lovely platter in the back corner of your oddly shaped cabinetry. And spot lighting from above aids cooking and affords better ambiance than one of those buzzing fluorescents. Dark pantries also benefit from a little extra light. If you're looking to install lights in your cabinets Home Depot has clear instructions. We like LED strips for under-cabinet lighting, like these ($19.33) from Good Earth Lighting, for their long lasting bulbs and clean glow.


While your Power Ranger night light may have been left at your parent's house (or not, we won't judge) a little hidden bedroom lighting goes a long way. The more adult version of your little plug-in would be strip lights, installed low and with a motion sensor so you don't disturb your partner or stay awake from all the extra light. Ambient lighting also works well behind the bed or nightstand for night time reading, or whatever else you might need dim lights in your bedroom for. All you need is some rope lighting and a motion sensor plug, like this one from SensorPlug ($11.25), to add some ambiance.


We've talked about how ambient lighting from behind your monitor can reduce eye strain. Adding a lights to your office space not only gives you cool effects, but proper placement and spread complements an ergonomic workspace by giving you the light you need to read, do paperwork or draw. Of course they also look awesome in a dark room whilst gaming. If you're like us you also store a lot of books in your office, and bookshelf lights like these ($14.99) from Ikea make shelves easier to read and more like decor.


One might think the bathroom is an unlikely place for ambient lighting. Do you really need drawer lights to see your cotton swabs? Maybe, maybe not. But as our sister blog Apartment Therapy discussed, some rope lights under your bathroom cabinets go along way to save you from a stubbed toe. Ambient lighting also works great in the bathroom for guests who may be unfamiliar with its layout and as extra lighting instead of candles or in a dark shower. Too many bathrooms don't have any windows and some ambient lights can help make up for that. Rope lights like these ($29.99 for 12 ft, Target) can be had from many big box stores and online.

How do you use ambient lighting? Share you ideas in the comments.

More Light on Unplggd
Using Simple Table Lamps As Ambient Lighting
Use LEDs For Ambient Lighting Around Your Workstation
How to Create the Perfect Home Office Lighting Setup
Using LED Lighting Behind Workstation Monitors

(Images: DIY Network and Flickr users Mohammed Yassin, Shandi-lee, tehusagent and colleen_taugher under creative commons.)

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