Industry Experts Share Their Top Interior Lighting Tips

Industry Experts Share Their Top Interior Lighting Tips

Lighting is an important part of any room, whether it be at home or commercially, interior lighting plays a huge part in the overall character of any room or space, and is crucial to the presentation of all other elements contained in the room.

Perhaps you're starting out as a beginner who's in need of some advice, or you're in the process of changing different aspects of lighting in your property, never fear, you've come to the right place.

The question is, how do you get interior lighting right?

We decided to reach out to a number of experienced and talented interior designers and others within the industry to ask for their number one interior lighting tips.

Who better to ask than the experts, right?


Shelley Little - Fresh Home

Lighting is often overlooked when it comes to interior design - everyone automatically thinks of colors, furnishings, flooring etc- but the most luxurious room can be ruined with poor lighting.
Most often the biggest mistake is made by thinking all one needs is some ceiling lights. We don't just decorate our ceilings, do we?
Rather lighting should be approached in a layered manner, thereby highlighting all the architectural and design features of the room - from ceiling to floor.
This method of layered lighting creates a warm, welcoming room where all the design features comes alive. In order accomplish this you need to embrace the whole range of lighting sources available: pendant lights, recessed lights, chandeliers, track lighting, tall floor lamps, small table lamps, wall sconces, art lighting, under cabinet lighting, and other spot lighting.
Sometimes I find it best to take a photo of the finished room; a picture is truly worth one-thousand words and it will immediately show you the dark areas in your room design that need more lighting.

Jules Yap - Ikea Hackers

Know what you are lighting up. Is it a work space? The kitchen? Make up table? Living room? Different functions will demand different types of lighting.
When you have the right lighting for its purpose, then think of ways to layer on other softer lights to create ambience.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard -

The number one rule In Lighting for any space , no matter what the size , scale or budget has to be the dimmer switch. This simple devise changes the look and feeling of a space instantly.
It adds mood , atmosphere , sex appeal and transition to every room and for me is the decorators greatest trick and certainly the home owners best friend.

Jen Stanbrook - Love Chic Living

Think carefully about how to light the room, and what you will want from the light. If you need task lighting consider the best way to get this
If you need to add atmosphere with your lighting, play around with the position of lamps to decide how best to achieve this.

Jenny Gibbs - Principal / Founder, KLC School of Design

Of all the different aspects of interior design, for many of us, lighting is one of the most daunting. First not last is the golden rule, and for a successful lighting scheme you have to plan ahead. Lighting is a magic tool which can make areas come to life, manipulate space, flatter form and create mood and atmosphere.
You almost need to write yourself a “mini-brief” to establish any specific tasks that need to be lit, the general level of indirect light required and any artworks or architectural features you might want to highlight. Your aim is to create different levels of light in a space, and with a few exceptions, the less you see of the actual fittings themselves the better. When choosing these, style and scale are of course factors to consider, but so too is the actual output and colour temperature of light these provide and how that light will be distributed.
Flexibility is key to an effective lighting scheme and installing dimmers - which have the added advantage of lengthening lamp life, and reducing energy consumption - and ensuring that different types of lighting can be separately controlled, will help you adjust light levels for different times of the day and night.

I say it all the time when designing for my clients at my firm Toronto Interior Design Group ( It’s all in the lighting.
Without it, a space is incomplete; it’s the most crucial layer that packs the biggest really sets the mood!

Torie Wilkinson - Klaus and Heidi

Think about how you're going to use the room at different times of day or indeed for different purposes. For example an intimate dinner vs a family meal require different atmospheres completely.
Consider layering up the lighting so you can add and take away easily, giving the room maximum flexibility, throughout the day and year.

Gwen Hefner - The Makerista

Scale is everything, so be sure to get a light that is proportionate to the room and furniture in the space. There are loads of infographics on Pinterest to help guide you.

Shai DeLuca -

My best tip for someone starting out in design re lighting would be plan plan plan.
A well thought out RCP (Reflected Ceiling Plan) is crucial to a creating the perfect lighting concept in a space. But, as important as a well planned RCP is, it's important to have a contractor install floor outlets based on furniture plans.
There's nothing worse than messy electrical cords running along baseboards of s room. Floor outlets are imperative.

Kimberly Duran - Swoonworthy

Never rely on a single overhead light for a room - you really want to vary the lighting in your space to create little pockets and pools of light so you should always consider things like task lighting (a table lamp with a moveable head, an adjustable floor lamp, under cupboard lighting for the kitchen) for things like reading, working, sewing or cooking as well as accent lighting to show off a great piece of artwork, plants or architectural features in the room.
Layering your lighting is as important as layering your accessories and really can add a whole extra dimension to your space as well as changing the mood at the flick of a switch!

Laura Oakes - The Cabal

Always consider the functional needs of the rooms you are designing for; For instance direct clear light for working kitchen areas, and a softer diffused style for living and relaxing areas.
Statement lighting pulls together a color scheme, and should always be size proportional to the room/ furniture.

Adrienne Chinn -

Consider lighting on more than one level. Table and floor lamps add pools of light around the room which create a welcoming atmosphere.
Combine these with a few strategically placed recessed downlights in the ceiling (but avoid the rows of downlights that make your ceiling look like an airplane landing strip!), or a beautiful central pendant light or chandelier.
I always like to add some lighting inside built-in shelving as well, which creates ambiant lighting for the display of treasured objects.

Suzanne Lasky - S Interior Design

Make sure to consider layers of light sources in your designs. Overhead ceiling recessed can lighting are only one layer. We recommend eye level lighting sources (table lamps, floor lamps) also.
In kitchens and offices you need a task lighting source too such as under cabinet LED strips or desk lamps.
Certain design environments will benefit from accent lighting such as light on a sculptural accessory or art work.

Pippa Jameson - Interior Stylists

Lighting is an integral part of decorating as it controls the 'mood' of the home and allows you to zone areas.
Floor and side lamps are good for soft lighting, pendant lights are great for statement pieces such as over dining tables, grand hallways or smaller ones for breakfast bars.
Down lights are good for general lighting through the house. Yellow bulbs are softer and less stark...

Nicola Holden -

When thinking about lighting, always think about what needs to be lit (a beautiful piece of art, an unusual wall texture, somewhere to read a book), and then layer in the lighting to achieve this.


Interior lighting is one of the best places to make a statement in your design. Of course, the function has to be there, and oftentimes this requires a layered lighting effect with a combination of recessed, accent, hanging and task fixtures. Lighting is usually at eye level and we never regret going bold with our choice of style or scale.

Lynni Megginson -

My advice would be to not fall into the 'overdone recessed lighting' trap. There's nothing more unattractive than a ceiling that looks like Swiss Cheese!

Jennifer Woch - House of J Interior Design

When selecting lighting fixtures for a space, choose coordinating fixtures versus matching fixtures.
The fixtures should tie together in style and colour, however, they needn't be from the same light fixture family where they all match. Mixing things up a bit will add character and ambiance.

Jeff Page - SpaceLineDesign

Lighting is the fourth dimension of design, just be sure to have a gentle mix of downlights, wall washers, accents and indirect lights. Use convenient switching, dimmers and electronic controllers and warm colored lighting for pleasing comfort, but a nice white halogen type light for bringing out the colors in art, accents and flowers.
Quick tip: Never use light that shines in the eyes! This means over-bright decorative pieces, intense LED lighting that you accidently gaze into, visible, exposed bare bulbs or the uncomfortable fluorescent electric blue hue caused by too cool of light temperature above 6500k.

Ramona Griffin - G&G Interior Design

My tip would be to make sure you layer your lighting to provide ambient, task, and decorative light in each space. Making the lighting visually interesting is also an added benefit of specialty lighting and it can add so much to the design.
Remember, if you don't light the beautiful space no one can see your design!

Susie Miles - Susie Miles Design

Layer the lighting in living spaces to produce different effects using 3 types of lighting: General, Task and Mood lighting.

Emma Blomfield -

Don't underestimate the power of interior lighting. It is easy to get caught up with decor and furniture choices but lighting has a huge impact on the overall mood and atmosphere in a room and also helps highlight some of the brilliant furniture and art choices when they are placed under the right light!

Maxine Brady - We Love Home

Lighting sets the atmosphere in a room so you will need lots of levels depending on your mood. For day to day, you'd need a bright overhead light.
For chilling out on your sofa, a couple of table lamps and one standard lamp dotted around your room will help create a relaxing atmosphere. If you're entertaining, you'll want the lights down low - candles and fairy lights work brilliantly to create an intimate setting.
The key is to have layers of lighting at your finger tips.

Vicki Murdoch - Silken Favours

Be original and create something you truly believe in.

Tanyth Thomson - Living In Space

Lighting can drastically change the mood of a room – choose your temperatures wisely. While this may seem like a simple statement it really couldn’t ring more true.
Think about the desired ambience for the room and how you could enhance or compliment that - would you like warm lighting to create a cosy environment in your bedroom or a cooler more gallery style lighting for kitchens and work rooms. Would you like it to wash the wall in a decorative fashion or do you need focused task lighting overhead a counter top or desk space?
Be very aware of this when you’re mixing different styles of lighting in one room as each bulb may have a different colour temperature. If budget allows, it would be wise to set the lighting controls to work independently of each other based on their task in one room – for example, you may want wall lights to wash upwards in a dining room to create a softer ambience than the pendants overhead which would need to light up your table.

Sarah Myall - Whitehouse Interiors

Don’t limit yourself to just ceiling and table lamps. Think about how to create interest with lights, that could be lighting areas you wouldn’t think like under desks, under beds, behind mirrors and fireplaces…be experimental.

Kelly Davies -

Effective lighting schemes create drama and interest with light and shade. Think beyond simply flooding the space with an even wash of light and create layers of light from several different lighting sources.

Typhanie Peterson -

Create a flexible lighting scheme by adding dimmers. As your moods and activities change, so should your lighting.

Linda Merrill -

A room should be evenly lit across the space so there aren’t “hot” spots and dark corners. This doesn’t mean the space should be lit up like a circus, just that it should be evenly distributed.
Within this lighting, you will also want “task” lighting for reading, cooking, putting on makeup - whatever specific task happens in the space. This includes desk lamps, under cabinet lighting work kitchen work surfaces or makeup lights in a bathroom. And above all else - install dimmer switches every where you can for the most versatility.

Christina Haire -

Always include a dimmer with your lighting installation. Romantic and flattering.
Always install side lighting with mirror/vanity in bathrooms. Most flattering.

Gail Green - Gail Green Interiors

Proper light improves the look and feel of any space and allows you to play with the theme of your home. Choosing a welcoming lighting scheme and using several smaller, warm lamps (rather than bright overhead lighting) will keep the atmosphere friendly.
If you are doing any type of design alteration to your home, consider installing sconces and creating cove lighting. Sconces thrust light outwards providing an overall ambient light to a room. A less direct means of lighting is Cove lighting which emanates from behind walls or within the recesses of ceiling moldings. It is usually employed as accent lighting and manufactures a warm invisible glow, creating a pleasing feeling throughout.