SPOTLIGHT ON LIGHTING #1: The 3 Types of Lighting for Your Home | The Home Design School

SPOTLIGHT ON LIGHTING #1: The 3 Types of Lighting for Your Home

Getting the lighting right in a room can be a tricky thing; it can make or break a scheme. If you get it right, it can create a cosy atmosphere, supply you with sufficient lighting for you to work, and even create different moods. Get it wrong and you can have a stark, over-bright room, or be fumbling around trying to see in a too-dim room. But lighting doesn’t need to be complicated if you understand a few key tips.

In this mini-series, we’re going to take to a look at the different types of lighting, find out how to get lighting right, and then look at some different products within each lighting category. So let’s start with the basics: what types of lighting are there?


There are three main types of lighting in an interior: ambient, task and decorative.


Ambient lighting is the main lighting in a room, and it is often supplied by the overhead pendant. Recessed downlighters can provide a more sophisticated ambient light that doesn’t over-expose the room. These Kartell pendant lights are from Design 55 Interiors.


Decorative lighting is where the light fitting itself is the feature. The strength of light produced can be variable depending on the type of fitting. Fairy lights and chandeliers fall into the category of decorative lighting, for example, but produce different strengths of light. These fairy lights below are from Rigby & Mac and will create a pretty feature, but without producing much useful light.


Task lighting is self-explanatory. This is for when you need to see what you are doing when you are working. Spot lights in the kitchen, under cabinet lighting or a desk lamp are all examples of task lighting. This desk lamp below is the Buddy Light from Loaf, and it’s design is based loosely on the Anglepoise style. It can be adjusted in three separate places to direct light towards the area you are working on.



When designing a lighting scheme, there are several questions to ask yourself before you get going. Go through the checklist below to make sure that you are properly prepared.

1. What is the purpose of the room?

Is the room going to be used for working? Socialising? Are you hoping to create a cosy mood or do you need to see to read? Don’t forget that you can use more than one type of lighting in a room to meet different purposes.

2. Does the purpose of the room change throughout the day?

Is the room used as a study by evening and a social space on weekends? If so, consider a range of different lighting types to include task and ambient lighting. It’s a good idea to layer your lighting with a mixture of floor lamps, table lamps and overhead lights because it creates depth to your scheme. Installing dimmer switches can help change your lighting from strong task lighting into a more cosy, ambient light for dinner parties.

3. Where are your sockets located?

If you are able to plan out where your sockets go while designing your scheme, then all well and good. However, most of us inherit an existing room layout and have to work with what we’ve got. Mark out the sockets in your room and consider the best way to position your lights. Think about using floor standing lamps, wall sconces or table lamps. If a socket is in a really awkward position, consider hiring an electrician to move it; it may not cost as much as you think. But if you can’t move the socket, then don’t be tempted to cite your lamp too far away. Remember: trailing wires are a hazard.

4. How big is your room?

When choosing light fittings, always remember to consider the scale of the room. Small side lamps will look lost in a big room, and will provide insufficient lighting. Similarly, huge light fittings can dominate a small room and can give too much lighting if you are trying to create atmosphere.

5. What features could you highlight?

Don’t forget that lighting can also be used to highlight features in a room. Use pointed down-lighters to showcase a piece of artwork, hide an LED rope light behind a picture rail to illuminate the architectural features of the space, or put a spotlight above a favourite sculpture.

In the next Spotlight on Lighting, we’ll take a look at how you can incorporate decorative lighting within a contemporary country scheme. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, do join in the discussion below.

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Until next time x


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