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Your home is your biography and tells the story of who you are. I am here to help you write your next chapter.

big glass and brass pendant over island

How to choose the right lighting for your home.

Lighting can literally make or break a space, yet it is often overlooked or forgotten about by most people when they build or renovate their homes. It should be hashed out from an early stage of your build which means you will need to plan ahead and consider the tasks that will take place in each space (which I highly recommend anyway).  

I’ve heard some horror stories from my clients. They tell me things like “we ran out of budget when it came to the lighting” or ” we didn’t see lighting as a priority” or “we just let the builder do what they wanted because we had no idea”. Big mistake! Builders are great at what they do, but generally, they don’t think about the interior design or functionality of a space. Lighting is not thoughtfully placed for furniture arrangement or daily tasks, but for the building itself. 

Check out the below image to see where the (well-known) builder placed my client’s pendant! What on earth would she want a pendant there for? I felt terrible for her when I saw this. But don’t worry, we are amending this and it will look beautiful when complete!

wrong placement of pendant

Benefits of good lighting

We all know that natural light has major benefits for our mental well-being and mood. Well, the same goes for artificial lighting, and that is where I’ll be focusing for this blog. 

A good, layered, lighting plan can influence our mood, stabilise our circadian rhythm, assist with concentration and productivity, and provide cosiness, intimacy and a sense of security in our homes. Physically speaking, good lighting can make a space feel larger, taller or wider, draw attention to something specific, guide you along a hallway, create intensional symmetry and even save you money (LED’s). 

large brass and glass pendant over kitchen island
I love this pendant I chose for my Box Hill client!

How to create a three layered lighting plan

Firstly, I’d highly recommend you collaborate with an Interior Designer or Lighting expert for this. As mentioned, light plays a crucial role in the success of your Interior Design. But for argument’s sake, let’s assume that is not an option. Here is how you’d create your lighting plan:

  1. On your floorplan, map out where you need Ambient lighting. Ambient lights illuminate the room entirely and are necessary for clear visibility overall. Your ambient lights are the recessed or ceiling-mounted lights. Be careful not to overdo these by keeping around 1.4m-1.8m between each fitting (depending on the room size). A good rule of thumb is to divide the ceiling height by two for your spacing.
  2. Figure out what tasks will be completed in each space and choose light accordingly. Task lights help you complete the task with ease such as reading or cooking. 
  3. Add your accent lighting to focus on something specific like down-lighters in a display unit or a picture light over an artwork. 
  4. Plan your budget ahead of the next stages so that you don’t run out of cash in the end. 
  5. Pick your light fittings to complement each other but show contrast. Lighting is a great way to define and separate an open plan space.  
Open plan living and dining
Spatially planned open plan living space.

What lighting should I choose for each room in my home?

The Entry and Hallway Lighting

We can’t all have a magnificent foyer in our home so we have to work with what we’ve got. Depending on the size and height of your entry, this is the perfect space to add a beautiful chandelier to suit the style of your home. You can pair this with a large table lamp on top of a sideboard or console table. 
Hallways look great with repetition. This is a great place to add a pendant or flush-mounted ceiling features in a row or keep it simple with recessed downlighters. You could add sconces to the walls for soft, indirect lighting. 
Hallway lighting
Studio McGee does a great job with lighting. Here she went for pedants because the ceiling height was grand.
She went for softer sconce lights here which provide an even glow over the family portraits. Down lighters would cast shadows.
She went for softer sconce lights here which provide an even glow over the family portraits. Down lighters would cast shadows.
Her entryways generally have one grand pendant and one oversized table lamp, which I am a huge fan of!
Her entryways generally have one grand pendant and one oversized table lamp, which I am a huge fan of!

Formal Living Room Lighting

This is where you get to be bold and fabulous while you entertain your guests! Generally, one single pendant is hung above the coffee table in the centre of the room and anchors the space. Use accent lighting to draw attention to some collectables on shelving or artwork. And lastly, layer in some floor lamps or table lamps for intimate conversation. 
Formal living room with mixed lighting
Source : Pinterest

Kitchen/Living/Dining Room Lighting

I am treating this as one room because it needs to be considered as a whole. But I will break each space down for you. Your lighting should complement each other but be different enough to divide the spaces. You should have every type of light within this open-plan space to create a perfectly layered lighting system.
This is by far the most challenging space for lighting because multiple tasks take place here such as cooking, cleaning, reading the paper and casually chatting with friends. We are looking for a balance between functional and decorative here. I’d suggest recessed downlights in general areas, feature task lighting (pendants or linear) over the benchtop and accent lighting in the form of LED strips under the top cabinets or along the bottom near the floor.  You could also add accent lighting within glass display cabinets (see image below). The Accent lights are gorgeous to leave on at night! 
kitchen with good lighting
Source: Pinterest. See how all three lighting sources are used well here.
The living room is for relaxing so it’s important to get the mood right here. In an open-plan space, it’s best to keep pendants away from the living room because most likely, you will have feature lighting in the kitchen and dining. Go for a floor lamp in the corner to eliminate shadows, and maybe a table lamp beside the sofa. Just remember to hide the ugly cords! A good trick for lamps in the middle of the room is to run the cord under the rug, all the way to the powerpoint. 
The dining is the easiest space to light because we almost always go for a feature light above. If you have recessed lighting too, make sure they are on separate switches so that you can control the amount of light this space gets and create different atmospheres. Add a table lamp to your sideboard or a floor lamp in the corner for ambience. 
Open plan kitchen living dining lighting
Source: Clark and co homes. See how the lighting divides each space?
The kitchen and dining have pendants, but the living does not. That would be excessive.
The kitchen and dining have pendants, but the living does not. That would be excessive.


This is where we feel warm, cosy and relaxed so we don’t want to overlight this space. Feel free to layer up on task lighting if you have multiple purposes for this space. One central ceiling light or a couple of recessed lights are usually enough for the average-sized bedroom, plus bedside lighting (lamps, wall sconces or pendants).
Tip: If you have a detailed pendant, avoid more pendants on either side of the bed. 
neutral bedroom design beige and white
Source: Pinterest


One of my favourite rooms to add lighting to! This is where wall sconces or backlit mirrors are non-negotiable because they provide even light for our reflection.  Bad placement of overhead lighting can cast unflattering shadows on your face, doing nothing for our confidence. Who needs that?? Wall lights paired with a central light fitting is the perfect combo for your bathroom. Don’t forget to add dimmers if you like to relax in the bath! 
bathroom lighting three layers
Source : Skrin. I love how this designer used lighting to disguise the fact that the mirror and sink are off centre (for easy access to sink).

What light globe should I choose?

These days, everyone is using LED bulbs. They are cheaper to run and provide the best quality of light. It is important to think about the amount of light required from your light for every part of your home. This brightness is measured in Lumens. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb. 

You will definately want to consider the mood you get from your bulbs too and this comes from the colour or temperature of the light. We measure temperature in “kelvins” and this scale goes from 1000k to 10,000k.  The optimum kelvins for your home would be anywhere between 2000 and 4000k. 2000k (warm) would be for ambient lighting while 4000k (cool) would be for task lighting. This graph below is a great way of demonstrating warm and cool lighting.

how to choose lumens for your light

I hope this blog has been illuminating….get it?! So what are the biggest takeaways from this blog?

  • Don’t leave your lighting plan to the end! 
  • What tasks will be required in each space? Tackle your lighting accordingly. 
  • Aim for three layers of lighting per space: Ambient, task and accent lighting. 
  • The lighting in one space should complement each other not match. 
  • Use dimmers to help you change the mood of your room throughout the day.
  • Divide your ceiling height by two for your spacing recommendation between recessed lights. 
  • The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb.
  • Stick between 2000 and 4000 kelvin for your light temperature. 
How to style shelves like an interior designer

Book a discovery call below if you’d like some help planning your home’s lighting!

Thanks for reading, take care. 

Tracey Bright, Interior Designer.

Tracey Bright, Interior Designer.

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