How to Light a Room & How it Can Dramatically Improve a Room

By Samantha Todd | December 28, 2021

There’s a reason why “mood lighting” exists; lighting can change the way your room feels and the way you feel upon entering your home. Lighting makes a difference, and lighting a room properly determines how comfortable your room is and how much you’ll likely end up using the room. 

In terms of lighting rules, there are a few you should know before deciding on your light fixtures and even your light bulbs. For instance, fluorescent lighting really has no place in any room of your home except for your garage. 

The team of designers at Modloft knows how to appropriately light every room of your home, from picking the right fixtures to determining the right amount and kind of light your room needs. One of the most important factors in creating appropriate lighting is using different types of lighting in your space. 

We’ll talk about the three different kinds of lighting, how to properly light a room, and what types of light work best for each space in your home. 

The Three Different Types of Lighting

You probably aren’t aware that there are three different types of light used in a room. These forms of lighting help differentiate between specific areas in a room and help create the proper atmosphere. 

1. Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the main source of light in your room. It’s the strongest lighting you’ll use and is normally provided by either a window, an overhead light, or a series of uniform lamps. Ambient lighting is also sometimes referred to as general lighting. 

Ambient lighting is what fully illuminates your room and creates the most atmosphere.

2. Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is secondary to ambient lighting. It is also referred to as highlighting or showcasing. Accent lighting is used to draw attention to a particular element of a room. This can be a piece of art hanging on the wall, a sculpture, or a plant. 

Accent lighting is usually done with recessed track lighting, lamps, spotlights, or battery-operated string lights. Accent lighting is a great way to enhance the overall mood of your space, create warmth, and draw the eyes to particular areas of a room. 

Accent lighting can also be used to draw eyes away from areas of a space. For instance, if you keep your children’s toy bins in a particular corner and you’d rather have attention focused elsewhere, accent lighting can help pull attention to a different area of your room. 

A fantastic way to utilize accent lighting in a dramatic way is with the use of pendant lights. Pendant lights hang from the ceiling in a way that elevates them nearly to an art form. This may conjure up the image of a chandelier, but make no mistake, the pendant light is a modern, understated alternative. 

Followers of the minimalism movement will appreciate the Arundel pendant lamp. This piece hangs from the ceiling, and with its graceful curves and eye-catching wood finish, it calls attention to not only the lamp itself but nearby features with similar aesthetic appeal. 

For people who truly believe that “Less is more,” look for a slender and understated pendant lamp. The Belgrave pendant lamp has a similar wood and color story to the Arundelbut is even sleeker. This lamp works well in pairs. Pair it with other Belgraves or even other pendant lights. 

Those who are followers of matching jewelry metals may want to pair the Arundel with the Belgrave pendant light. Their complementary wood and metal finishes highlight and support one another without feeling the need to steal the show. 

3. Task Lighting

Task lighting helps illuminate a specific task that needs to be performed in a room. For instance, you would find task lighting above the range in your kitchen, beside your bed on your nightstand, over a bar where drinks are prepared, and by a reading chair. 

Task lighting is normally produced by a lamp or spotlight, or even a small light that is specifically situated to shine on a particular area of counter space. 

How to Properly Light a Room

A well-lit room consists of the use of all three types of lighting. This method of using all three types of lighting is called layering light. It’s more important to layer your light than depend on your lighting to come from only one source.

If you’re unsure if your room is not properly lit, there are some signs you can look for that can help you determine the level of lighting you have. 

If you are experiencing any of the above problems, you need to adjust your room’s lighting. Here’s how to get the job done like a design professional. 

Selecting a Light Bulb

It doesn’t matter if your light fixture is the perfect length or made from the best materials; if it houses the incorrect light bulb, the entire room will feel wrong. 

Unless you’re searching for lighting for your garage or workshop, you shouldn’t use fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is intrusive, overpowering, and unkind. It is useful for seeing tedious work or illuminating very large rooms with very few bulbs and fixtures. 

Dimmable bulbs are a great option for family rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and home theatres. Dimmables allow you to adjust the lighting to your specific comfort level. 

For most rooms, the ambient light source will be soft, white light. This is comfortable lighting that gives off a subtle amber hue. Most people find this type of lighting the most flattering and enjoyable in their homes. 

Selecting your Ambient Light

When approaching the ambient light selection for your room, don’t think in terms of filling the entire space with light. Think more along the lines of setting the mood. 

Your ambient light source should provide enough light with the proper fixture to illuminate the interior of the room. Think outside the dome on this one; a dome light fixture is the classic, builder-grade room fixture, but dome lights can cause your bulbs to be too dim and can force light directly to the center of the room instead of allowing it to flow outward. 

If you have an open dome fixture (the kind that you commonly find attached to a ceiling fan), light can end up on your ceiling instead of in your room. 

Accent Well

Once you have your ambient light source in place, you can move on to accent lighting. Prioritize accent lighting over task lighting, because accent lighting will add more light to the room and may eliminate the need for additional task lighting. 

Accent lighting is important even if you feel your ambient lighting is sufficient to make your room feel comfortable. The use of accent lighting is how you successfully layer light in your space and make it feel rich and textured. 

Accent lighting doesn’t have to be tracked or recessed. You can use a lamp for accent lighting or even a pendant light strategically placed over a console table or other piece of furniture that you’d like to highlight. 

Assign Task Lights

Sometimes your task lighting will have been done for you. The light over your stovetop is a good example. However, to create a special task light for writing a note, reading a book, or using a device, you can make use of lamps.

Table lamps are a great way to assign task lighting to an area that needs it. You can use them when needed and keep them dimmed other times. If you use a dimmable light bulb, you can adjust the lighting that your table lamp emits, making it even more customizable for your space. 

Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

When you’re lighting your rooms, there are a few mistakes you should try to avoid to ensure your lighting always looks appropriate and cohesive with your room’s design. 

The Takeaway

Properly lighting a room makes use of all three different types of lighting and ensures the space feels comfortable. 

You can properly light your home with beautiful, modern fixtures, like the ones available from Modloft. If you feel like you’re lacking inspiration, head over to our community gallery so you can view how other Modloft customers use our lighting in their spaces. 



3 Basic Types of Lighting | HGTV

How to Light a Room | Elle Decor

Lighting Tips for Every Room | HGTV

How to Determine the Ceiling Light Size for a Room | Home Guides

Minimalism – Art Term | Tate Museum