A Full Guide to Lighting for Interior Design in 2024

Ideal interior design cannot ignore lighting. It not only provides the necessary brightness but also caters to mood and adds comfort to the room. Therefore, when it comes to lighting for interior design, it’s helpful to grasp the different types of lighting, understand how to use various lights in different rooms, and be aware of key do’s and don’ts in the design process. Don’t think that these involve too much and you can’t get started, they all have a clear path to follow. To make it easier for you, this post shows you useful lighting tips for interior design around these three aspects. They can all make your house look different when illuminated!


4 Common Types of Lighting for Interior Design

Based on the different sources, light can be divided into natural light and artificial light. As an indoor space for home and leisure, sunlight may not always be sample. Therefore, artificial light is the main force of lighting for interior design, and it can be subdivided into four types depending on placement and use.


General Lighting

General lighting is a basic illumination that adapts to the change of natural light to provide brightness for a room. Its primary role is to ensure that you can watch and walk safely and easily at home after dark. Examples include the main light in bedrooms, ceiling lights in bathrooms and kitchens, and central pendant lights in living rooms. While general lighting offers ample brightness, it’s beneficial to complement it with different lighting methods for a cozier indoor ambiance.


Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting can be considered the same thing with general lighting, but at times, it also serves as an extension or companion to general lighting. Ambient lighting is not as strong as general lighting. It is commonly found in wall sconces or floor torchieres that wash walls; cove, soffit, and curtain lighting that reflects light from ceilings and walls. Paired with dimming options, ambient lighting is gentle and sets the tone for spaces for dining, resting, or entertaining, introducing a more subtle and dramatic effect.

Task Lighting

As the name implies, task lighting is designed for specific activities. Focused on smaller, localized areas, task lighting is often brighter than ambient lighting. Usually, the study and living room are the most in need of task lighting with adjustable floor and desk lamps. The same is true in the kitchen. Appropriate fixtures under the cabinets, on the workbench, and on the preparation island ensure the cooking safety. If you are a beauty lover, task lighting is also crucial in areas like the bedroom or dressing room where grooming and clothing arrangement take place.


Accent Lighting

Accent lighting, also known as highlighting, finds applications both indoors and outdoors. It uses light that is three times brighter than general lighting to project onto an aesthetically pleasing object, such as a wall, painting, sculpture, potted plant, or tree. By doing so, the high contrast between illuminated and shadowed areas creates a focal point that captivates onlookers. Generally speaking, track, recessed, and wall-mounted fixtures are often used to create accent lighting. Their adjustable accessories also allow accent lighting to have a variety of angles and more precise focusing.

How to Light Rooms with Proper Lighting Ideas

The same as the four types of lighting for interior design, lighting points also need to align with actual needs. Different functional areas often require different atmospheres and lighting. Only by combining your main activities in different rooms can you choose suitable and targeted lamps and bulbs.


Living Room

The living room, being the central space for family gatherings and daily chores, should be strategically designed with windows that welcome natural sunlight. This will have sunlight on sunny days. Even on overcast days, sufficient natural light permeates the interior, which not only makes you feel comfortable, but also saves electricity.


Since there is always a lot of time spent in the living room, adjustable recessed ceiling or pendant lights are essential. They can illuminate the entire area during the night. You can also purchase a few soft floor lamps according to your needs for work and study. If you want to enhance the ambiance, try placing LED light strips behind the TV or under curtains or tables. This creative approach can liven up the atmosphere when you have a party.



For a perfect end to a day’s work, it is best to make the general lighting or ambient lighting in the bedroom cozy and soft. Therefore, various bedside lamps, floor lamps, and wall lights with different color temperatures are highly suggested. At the same time, the bedroom is also a multi-functional area for you, where you will read, make up, or change clothes. So don’t forget the right desk lamps and light tubes.


An adjustable lighting dressing mirror and vanity are also excellent additions. However, if you want a touch of design in the bedroom, consider foregoing traditional fixtures. Explore creative ideas like corner lights or bed lighting lights while ensuring sufficient brightness.


All lighting in the kitchen should prioritize safety and practicality. An exquisite main light that can ensure general lighting is a must. In addition, small fixtures need to be embedded in places that are prone to shadows, such as above the workbench and under the cabinets, to ensure that there is enough light when handling food ingredients. If your kitchen has a prep island, you may as well try to wrap the LED strip around it. Using a dimmer to control the color of the lighting can make your kitchen look beautifully bold.


Dining Room

Dining room lighting should be based on the room’s size. For smaller dining areas, consider a single pendant light or a chandelier to avoid making the space feel cramped. For larger dining rooms, ceiling-mounted or recessed canister lights are excellent choices. They can all provide even light distribution, ensuring that you can first “enjoy your eyes.” Also, if the dining room has decorations, you can add wall sconces or track lighting to highlight them. However, the key is a dimmer switch. Warm white light can make the dining room more cozy and relaxing, while cool white light is more energetic and can enliven the dining atmosphere.

Do and Don’t of Lighting for Interior Design

Lighting for interior design not only requires design, but also selection. Any of these steps can affect the final lighting effect. To ensure improved and durable interior lighting, consider the following do’s and don’ts.

  • Do use design software: Optimal indoor lighting design should use home design software like ZWCAD or AutoCAD. These tools can help you accurately plan the location of light fixtures. Better yet, they can be used for 3D modeling and rendering, enabling you to intuitively analyze and feel the lighting effect.
  • Do adjust light intensity: Opt for lighting fixtures with various colors or color temperatures and use a compatible dimming system. This benefits to open and adjust the light tones as needed over time and to create a specific ambiance in the interior.
  • Do think about wattage: To save energy while ensuring adequate indoor lighting brightness, general lighting typically requires 60-75 watts, and task lighting needs 40-60 watts. For medium-sized rooms, a 60-watt bulb is usually sufficient for illumination.
  • Don’t blindly follow trends: Lighting for interior design should be centered on practicality. Therefore, don’t just focus on the appearance of the lamp and cater to the so-called trends and styles. Some intricately designed lamps hard to clean and find suitable replacement bulbs.
  • Don’t use a central light source: A single central light source is likely to produce large shadows, which are unsightly and pose a safety hazard. Therefore, it is necessary to adhere to the principle of layered lighting, balancing general, task, and accent lighting in interior design.
  • Don’t expose wires: Exposed wires have a negative impact on both aesthetics and movement. The best practice is to use professional interior design software to plan the circuits and outlets. And when construction, conceal wires behind objects or within the walls.


Final Words

In summary, effective lighting for interior design requires you to grasp various types of lighting and select suitable fixtures based on the specific functions of indoor areas. This is a demand-driven design process that is not only time-consuming but also needs patience. But with the guidance above, hope you can be inspired and achieve the desired interior lighting effect.