Interior Home Lighting

Properly done interior home lighting can make all the difference between a home that is warm, welcoming and inviting and one where a person does not feel very comfortable. It is instrumental in setting the moods and tone for the whole house.

Lighting design and technology has advanced quite a lot in recent times. Good interior home lighting schemes now-a-days go beyond the functional use. They are used primarily for evoking emotions and creating moods. They are very subtle, not in the face and work on the subconscious level.

The lighting should not only complement the overall decor of the home but make a visual statement. It should set the mood, have a sense of personality and create an inspiring environment.

In interior home lighting, the light should seemingly be coming from visible sources like table lamps, sconces or chandelier, while it is actually being augmented with hidden downlights, adjustable accent lights or any other such sources.

Make the space multifunctional and multi-dimensional by having lighting that can be altered to suit different needs and tasks.

Lighting Types

In an effective interior home lighting scheme there is a balanced mix of different lighting types. Direct, functional lighting should work in harmony with hidden, ambient lighting, enhanced by accent lighting.

Different areas in a home will require all or some of many lighting types at different points of time. Living room, for instance, will require ambient lighting for seeing guests, task lighting for reading and accent lighting for the artwork or any other prominent decorative feature.

Some lighting fittings, like pendants and uplighters, are capable of meeting the requirements of both functional and ambient lighting. Pendants, for example, emit a warm glow creating a sense of ambient lighting, while simultaneously throwing down clear functional light. Chandeliers can be used as accent lighting as well as decorative lighting.

Dimmers can be used to increase or decrease illumination from the same light source so that it can be used both as ambient and functional light provider.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is a low-level lighting. It is so subtle that you tend to notice it only by its absence.

The best way to design ambient lighting is when no one notices the lighting but are enthralled by the effect it creates. The space instead of light fitting themselves will dictate what can be used and what will work.

To create a great effect and have perfect mood and ambience lighting, it should be designed in layers. Ceiling, walls and floor should be simultaneously treated independently and as a whole, when lighting.

It is always better for the general lighting to have dimming capacity installed along with. This way ambient light can be varied to suit different moods and conditions.

Different types of ambient lightings include recessed downlighters, wall washers, cove lighting, scones, track lighting, pendant lights. A combination of these combined with task and accent lighting can create a great interior home lighting scheme.

Commonly used light fixtures used for providing ambient lighting are recessed lights, cove lighting, LED spotlights, wall sconces, uplighters.

Task Lighting

There are some areas and times when functional task lighting takes precedence over ambient lighting. For example, in the kitchen, specially on work-counters, task or functional lighting is much more important as compared to ambient lighting.

The light fixtures used for this purpose should be glare-free. The light should focus on a specific area where the task needs to be performed.

There are many light fixtures which are normally used for task lighting. These include pendant lights, wall sconces, table lamps.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is a form of interior home lighting which combines the needs of functional requirements with the ambient atmosphere. It highlights key features in a decor scheme. It can be a work of art, an accent furniture item, a textured wall or some decorative items.

Since it is a type of focus lighting, it is very bright as compared to ambient lighting. The fixtures mostly used in the interior home lighting scheme to create accent lighting are spot lights, track lights, pendants or chandeliers.

Lighting Different Areas

It is crucial to combine functional with ambient lighting, to create different moods in different rooms while maintaining the functionality of those rooms.

The proportion and mix of different lighting types will vary in different areas of a home. The lighting in bedrooms will be softer and more subdued, creating an environment conducive to relaxation and sleep. In kitchen the emphasis will be more on direct, task lighting. In living areas it will be a healthy mix of the two.

Visit the following pages where lighting in different areas has been discussed in detail.


A broad range of materials are being used now-a-days to create very aesthetic light fittings. It is so much so that light fittings in themselves have become as much part of the decor as the light it is emitting.

In that context it is important to choose carefully the light fittings because different materials look best with different themes. Industrial materials, for example, with sleek, clean lines go well with minimalist interiors. Each material has its own unique quality and interacts with light in a distinct way.

Following are some of the materials being used with light fittings -

  • Glass
    It has a pure clean look to it, while having the options for etching or applying details on its surface, in the process, affecting the way light catches and shines through its surface. Wonderful effects can be created with colored glass or colored light within the glass piece.
  • Metal
    Its hard-wearing and easy to maintain. That makes it a natural choice for light fittings. Metal though being a naturally hard material, can be relatively malleable. Metals like stainless steel and aluminum are sculpted to produce different styles of luminaire from simple to decorative forms.
  • Wood
    Wood has long been used for furniture design. To complement the furniture and to form a stronger relationship of lighting with the interior as a whole, wood is increasingly being used to create a shade for the light source.
  • Plastic
    It is a flexible, durable and light weight material. Plastic, like glass, offers a translucent medium through which light can shine. Also, like glass, create great effects can be created with colored plastic or colored light enclosed within the translucent plastic.
  • Perspex
    Perspex has an amazing ability to transform light. It carries and distributes even light through its entire surface. It comes in a wide palette of colors and a diverse selection of lighting options.
  • Ceramic
    Along with its ability to create ambient glow, ceramic is a very durable material. It does not tarnish and will not degrade over time. It is also easy to clean and maintain. It looks quite elegant even when not illuminated.
  • Paper
    Taking inspiration from the traditional Japanese designs, paper is used to create inexpensive but sophisticated and sculptural light shades.
  • Rubber
    It is a colorful, soft material with nice textural quality. Along with that its ability to be cut, formed and woven in a variety of shapes makes it a good material for light shades.

Using these interior home lighting ideas and techniques, you can create wonderful environments that suit your moods and enhance the overall decor of your home.

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Sushil Wadhwa

Sushil Wadhwa
Architect, Interior Designer, creator of Homes and Interiors... more.