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How to light a house: choosing the right lighting for each room

Enhance your home’s interior décor with great lighting! Here are some room-by-room home lighting ideas to get you started.


a green bedside table with a lamp next to a bed

The feel of a room changes completely depending on how it’s lit. It’s easy to forget about lighting when you’re busy choosing furniture and decorating, but it’s something that affects every part of your home. Here’s some advice, both practical and aesthetic, on how to light a house room by room.

Choosing a lightbulb is just as important as choosing a type of lighting. Be aware of the colour temperature! A warm white will create a much more welcoming feel than a cool white.

Hallway lighting ideas

  • A table lamp near the front door can create a sense of warmth and welcome when guests step into your home.

  • A string of fairy lights won’t be enough to light most rooms, but they can add a whimsical feeling to a corridor!

  • When you’re going up or down a set of stairs, your main priority is seeing where your feet are going. A table lamp by the top of the stairs is fiddly to switch on and can’t be switched off when you’ve reached the bottom, but an overhead light, controlled by a wall switch at both the top and the bottom of the stairs, is a lot more practical.

Living room lighting ideas

  • Because the living room is for relaxing and socialising, overhead lighting can feel a little glaring. 

  • Table or floor lamps are often a better fit for a living room.

  • Use different levels of brightness for different purposes - softer lamps for ambience and brighter spotlights for reading.

  • Try dimmable ceiling or wall lights to add a cosy feel.

Safety Warning

Electricity and water mix in dangerous ways, so safety is a concern when it comes to bathroom lighting. If you’re planning to install bathroom lights, make sure the installation is done by a professional. Do not put table lamps, floor lamps or other styles of plug-in portable lighting in your bathroom.    

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Kitchen lighting ideas

  • Stay practical when thinking about lighting in the kitchen.

  • Table lamps leave too many shadows and might make it harder to see what you’re cooking.

  • Ceiling lights are better for lighting up the whole room and offer the most practical choice.

  • Spotlights can be added under wall cabinets and extractor fans to illuminate worksurfaces for added character and design.

Bedroom lighting ideas

  • When you’re going to sleep or you’ve just woken up, you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed and over to a light switch by the door so keep a table lamp on your bedside table.

  • Look for alarm clocks that use natural-style lights to make waking up in the mornings easier. Illuminated clockfaces are also good if you want to check the time at night without putting a light on.

  • Dimmable lights can be useful in a bedroom, particularly when you’ve just woken up and your eyes aren’t prepared for full lighting yet!

Bathroom lighting ideas

Dimmable lights can be great for bathrooms. It’s a room where you might need bright lighting for precise work, such as shaving or applying makeup, but you might also want dim lights for a relaxing bath. If you get lights with a dimmer installed, you can have the best of both worlds!

Garden lighting ideas

  • There’s something magical about a garden at night but bright, harsh lights can chase that magic away. Unless you’re a midnight gardener, you probably don’t need to light up your garden completely. Instead, consider putting up some strings of outdoor fairy lights or festoon lights.

  • Most homes don’t have power sockets on the outside so you may find it easier to use battery-powered or solar lights in your garden.

  • Whatever lighting you choose for your garden, make sure it’s weatherproof and designed for outdoor use. Your outdoor lighting ideas could be ruined if water gets into the electrics.

If you have more rooms than the ones mentioned in the home lighting tips above, remember the general rule for coming up with home lighting ideas: table and floor lamps are good for atmosphere in rooms designed for relaxing and socialising but bright overhead lighting can be more useful if you need better visibility. 

  • Light for the atmosphere in the living room and bedrooms using table or floor lamps and dimmable lights.

  • In the kitchen and bathroom, remember your practical needs: overhead lighting is the way to go!

  • In the bathroom and garden, where water may come into contact with any lighting you set up, always keep safety in mind.

Originally published