Skip to main content

Best Lighting: A Room-by-Room Guide

Finding the best lighting for each room in your home can be difficult when there are so many options to choose from. Different types, bulbs, brightnesses, and colors of lighting all can affect a person's mental health, sleep patterns, and overall well being, especially for those that are sensitive to light. It's important to find the best lighting that caters to each room of your home, so we've made a guide to make navigating the ropes of lighting a little bit easier.

Types of Lighting

Ambient or General Lighting: This typically is the main source of lighting for a room, and creates a comfortable level of brightness at a room's default level. Think of this uniform lighting as when you walk into a room and flip a switch. You should be able to easily see the entire space, walk around easily, and there shouldn't be much glare or excessive brightness. Ambient lighting can be accomplished with wall and ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, lanterns, and recessed or track lighting. Task Lighting: Task Lighting is usually brighter than ambient lighting, as it is allows you to do specific tasks such as food preparation, facial hygiene and makeup, reading or writing, and working on hobbies. This type of lighting is targeted to a particular space and includes recessed or track lighting, pendant lighting, floor or table lamps, and under-cabinet lighting. Accent Lighting: This lighting highlights certain areas of your home and creates visual interest by drawing your eye to an accent of a room such as paintings, sculptures, wall textures, or window treatments. It usually should be at least three times brighter than the ambient light around it to be effective. Accent lighting is usually provided by spotlights, recessed or track lighting, and wall-mounted fixtures.

Living Room: Use ambient lighting to create your desired brightness, and then use accent lighting to create visual interest on a wall or in a corner. Task lighting such as a table lamp also could be present if you use the space to read.

Kitchen: In addition to ambient lighting, you'll need a strong source of task lighting for preparing food. Consider adding dimmers so you can have brightness when cooking and are able to turn the lights down a notch to enjoy your meal or socialize with loved ones.

Bedroom: Create your own sleepy-time haven with ambient lighting, and add task lighting to areas such as a nightstand where you read or a dressing area.

Bathroom: Like laundry rooms, bathrooms usually have ambient lighting that is used as task lighting. Bring brightness to areas like your sink and mirror. You can also use candles as accent lighting to add depth to your bathroom.

Best Lighting

Types of Bulbs

Incandescent: These are the bulbs that have been around the longest and are probably the most traditional of all bulbs. Incandescent bulbs use a filament that is heated to the point of glowing, which is used to produce a warm light. Incandescent bulbs last about one year and do not contain mercury. LEDs: Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs use an electrical current passed through a semiconductor material to illuminate the tiny light sources called LEDs. These bulbs stay cool to the touch because the heat is produced in a heat sink inside the bulb. LEDs produce a variety of brightnesses and tones. These bulbs are much more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs and can last up to twenty years. CFLs: An electric current flows between electrodes at each end of a tube containing gases, producing ultraviolet (UV) heat and light. A phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb strikes against the UV light, transforming it into visible light. Like LEDs, these bulbs come in a variety of light brightnesses and tones. These bulbs can last about nine years, however they do contain mercury so more care is required for disposal. Halogen: Halogen bulbs use the same method as incandescent bulbs to produce light, but they use less energy. They last one year and do not contain mercury. Fluorescent: Fluorescent bulbs are tubes filled with mercury vapor that emits UV light when electricity is applied. The tubes have an inside coating that turns the UV light into visible light. Like the CFLs, fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which needs to be carefully disposed.

Reading a Bulb's Label

The FTC requires bulb packaging to include a label, similar to a nutrition label on a package of food, that includes information about how long the bulb will last, how much energy it uses, whether it meets Energy Star requirements, brightness levels, and light appearance (warm or cool). This label holds key information on how to find the best lighting for each room in your home. Brightness: Lumens are the measure of brightness for light bulbs. The more lumens the bulb has, the brighter the light is. A typical home bulb produces about 800 lumens, which is the equivalent of 60 watts.

Living Room: 1,500 -3,000 total lumens

Kitchen: 5,000-10,000 total lumens

Dining Room: 3,000-6,000 total lumens

Bedroom: 2,000-4,000 total lumens

Bathroom: 4,000-6,000 total lumens

Correlated Color Temperature: Kelvins are the units of measurement of a bulb's color temperature or how warm or cool the light that it emits is. The higher the Kelvins, the cooler the light is. Studies have found that warmer light makes you feel more relaxed, while cooler light makes you feel more alert. Consider the color temperature measured by Kelvins when you are trying to find the best lighting for your home. Warm (orange/red) bulbs are usually between 2,700K and 3,000K. Medium white bulbs are usually between 3,000K and 4,100K. Cool (blue) bulbs are usually 4,100K and higher.

Living Room: Choose a warm white bulb around 2,700K for an inviting feel, or if you prefer things a little brighter, go with a soft white bulb around 3,000K.

Kitchen: Kitchens should be light and bright, so look for bulbs around 3,500K-4,100K.

Dining Room: Choose a bulb around 3,000K for a pleasing ambiance.

Bedroom: You don't want a lot of bright, blue light before you go to sleep, so opt for a warm and cozy bulb around 2,700K.

Bathroom: Create a clean and neat feel with bulbs from 3,500K-4,100K.

Types of Light Fixtures

Table Lamps: This is one of the most decorative types of lighting. Sit an accent lamp on an end table, desk, nightstand, or dresser to light up your room. Floor Lamps: Floor lamps give off light around standing eye-level and don-t take up tabletop space. Ceiling Mount Lighting: Often built-in to your home, these lights are controlled by a switch and send light downward. Chandeliers/Pendant Lighting: This Lighting hangs from the ceiling and often makes a room have a put-together feel. Sconce: Sconces are attached to the wall and cascade lighting outward. Recessed/Track Lighting: This type of light sheds light across an entire room.

Living Room: table lamps, floor lamps, ceiling lighting, sconces

Kitchen: ceiling lighting, recessed/track lighting

Dining Room: chandeliers, pendant lighting

Bedroom: table lamps, floor lamps, ceiling lighting

Bathroom: ceiling lighting, recessed/track lighting, sconces

FR Lighting

SHOP THE LOOK: On table, left to right: Turned Finial LampChatham Table Lamp, Rockport Table Lamp, Caged Urn Black Table Lamp, Quartrefoil Uplight Gold, Segovia Table Lamp, Borreze Console Lamp, Antiqued Mercury Glass Table Lamp

Overall, finding the best lighting for your home is a long process, but it doesn't have to be difficult with this guide. Once you are done, you will be happy that you took the time to find the best lighting for each room, as light truly affects your mental and physical health.