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Design Lighting

Lighting - by Jessica Carey - updated on 1/11/2013

Bad lighting can make even the nicest room feel bland, uncomfortable or unattractive. Many people try rewiring or rearranging to create that perfect hue. However, there is an easier solution – you may want to consider trying lighting design. This technique involves using well-placed and well-lit lights to improve the design and ambiance of your home. To help you get started, take a look at our room-by-room design lighting tips below.

Living Room

The Look: The concept of "ambient lighting" (illumination that comes from all directions) is particularly important in the living room, an area of the house where people tend to gather for long periods of time and engage in an array of activities.

How to get it: Stay away from downward-facing recessed lights, and instead use lights that bounce off the ceiling for ambient illumination. Use soffit (light under a hanging structure) or valance (light on a wall, shielded by horizontal panels) lighting, recessed or track lighting that is directed toward the walls, or even with plug-in floor lamps that have upward-facing bulbs.

view into the corner of a livingroom with a lamp and couch


The Look: With its dual purpose of food preparation/cleanup area and gathering spot, the kitchen requires careful consideration of both task (directional) and ambient lighting.

How to get it: Utilize the natural window light with a ceiling mounted or recessed fixture above the sink. Using under-cabinet lighting is a good way to illuminate the countertop work surfaces without relying on an overhead light that will cast shadows on the person working at the counters. You don't need lights in the middle of the kitchen. Instead, make use of directional lights on countertops and kitchen islands.

kitchen with recessed and hanging lighting


The Look: With its emphasis on personal grooming that requires viewing oneself in a mirror, bathroom lighting should be more task-oriented.

How to get it: A perfect light scheme includes lights above and on both sides of the mirror to help fill in shadows.

sink with a mirror and 2 hanging lights

Dining Room

The Look: The primary focus of dining room lighting is the table, and fixtures placed directly above the table may provide both ambient and task lighting for this room.

How to get it: Dimmers and dimmable light bulbs are particularly desirable as they provide flexibility in establishing a relaxing atmosphere. But don't forget to light the walls, as dining rooms often have decorative paint treatments or wallpapers.

Hanging light over the table and recessed lighting over a counter in the back

Light Bulb Recycling

If you want to dispose of your old, broken lights, did you know that you can recycle them? Just like other recyclables, light bulbs can be broken down and made into new materials. Batteries Plus is a leader in the recycling of spent light bulbs. Visit our recycling page for more information.

Find a variety of incandescent and energy-efficient light bulbs, fixtures and accessories on our light bulb page. For more information on LED lighting, visit our LED Light Bulb Topic Page.