Lighting ideas: tips to illuminate every room

Our expert guide will make sure you find the right type of lighting scheme for each room in your home

The family’s dining area now benefits from easy access to both garden and kitchen, and is furnished with items from their previous home, including the dining table, bar stools and lighting

When it comes to lighting, it’s all too easy to overlook the planning stage and simply shop for styles we like – but it’s worth taking the time to work out exactly what kind of lighting scheme will be serve your space.

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Thoughtfully-placed lamps, spots, pendants, wall lights and lights specially designed for bathroom use will give rooms the combination of task, accent, mood and feature lighting they need to create just the right atmosphere.

Hang a cluster light over the dining table for soft task lighting when eating after dark. Gloucester three-light linear bar, £99, Next
Hang a cluster light over the dining table for soft task lighting when eating after dark. Gloucester three-light linear bar, £99, Next

Good lighting is always worth an investment but you can pick up some bargains when you want to add extra illumination with side lamps and pendant shades, which can be swapped for something new when you fancy a change.

A fully adjustable arm and head offers directional light for night-time reading. Ascoli Swing wall light in matt nickel, £115.20, Astro Lighting
A fully adjustable arm and head offers directional light for night-time reading. Ascoli Swing wall light in matt nickel, £115.20, Astro Lighting

Feeling inspired? Read on to discover our lighting ideas for every room!

Kitchen lighting ideas

In the kitchen, you’ll want task lighting over the work surfaces, cooker, hob, sink and any other food preparation areas or cooking stations.

Add a pop of colour with a clear globe light, which comes in a choice of bauble colours. Queen Mabel clear glass globe pendant, £379, Glow Lighting
Add a pop of colour with a clear globe light, which comes in a choice of bauble colours. Queen Mabel clear glass globe pendant, £379, Glow Lighting

This should ideally be combined with overhead spotlights or recessed lights for all-round illumination with a pendant or row of pendants over the dining table or island.

Rise and fall pendants allow you to alter the intensity of the light while dimmer switches offer flexibility at different times of the day.

For more advice on lighting your kitchen, check out our six ideas for transforming your kitchen with lighting.

Living room lighting ideas

In the living room the layered effect works particularly well.

Style a floor-standing lamp next to an armchair for a cosy corner, a cluster of lamps on side tables and sideboards and perhaps a few wall lights for when you want a gentle glow while relaxing in the evenings.

In the living room, a striking pendant or ceiling light can make instant impact. Artis six-bulb Sputnik light, £189, Lights & Lamps
In the living room, a striking pendant or ceiling light can make instant impact. Artis six-bulb Sputnik light, £189, Lights & Lamps

Bedroom lighting ideas

In the bedroom, it’s all about crafting a calming atmosphere, perhaps pairing an overhead pendant with a task light or two for reading.

Adjustable table lights are ideal for reading and directional clip-ons are great for headboards and shelves and can easily be retro-fitted.

Available in a brass, copper or pewter finish, this wall light comes with a flick switch for a harmonious look. Brooklyn Cone wall light in brass, £69, Industville
Available in a brass, copper or pewter finish, this wall light comes with a flick switch for a harmonious look. Brooklyn Cone wall light in brass, £69, Industville

Consider wall lights and pendants fitted on a dimmer so you can create a more intimate mood and look for warm bulbs rather than harsh effects. With home working becoming the new normal, make sure any desk space includes efficient task lighting to prevent eye strain.

Lighting a hallway

In hallways and on landings, it’s all about making your home warm and welcoming.

‘The hall and landing had woodchip wallpaper that took around 10 days to remove,’ recalls Lesley.
Statement lighting is a great way to add character to a hallway or landing

As the hall is the first impression a visitor has of your home, you want to hit the right note with a statement piece that is in keeping with your home’s character.

Bathroom lighting ideas

Not all lights are suitable for bathroom use, and those which are will be clearly marked with an IP rating, which indicates how resistant the light is to dust and water.

Place industrial-style wall lights either side of a bathroom mirror for task lighting when cleaning teeth or applying make-up. Brooklyn bathroom dome wall light in pewter and copper, £139 each, Industville
Place industrial-style wall lights either side of a bathroom mirror for task lighting when cleaning teeth or applying make-up. Brooklyn bathroom dome wall light in pewter and copper, £139 each, Industville

Bathrooms are divided into zones when it comes to lighting and each zone determines the type of lighting and IP rating that can be installed.

Bathroom zones

  • Zone 0 is the space in the bath or shower itself, so any lighting here must be of low wattage and be rated at least IP67 as well as immersion-proof.
  • Zone 1 is the area directly above the bath or shower to a height of 2.25m from the floor. Lights in Zone 1 must have a minimum rating of IP45 but it’s generally accepted that IP65 is most suitable.
  • Zone 2 stretches 60cm outside the perimeter of the bath or shower to a height of 2.25m from the floor. Here, a rating of at least IP44 is needed. The space around the basin within a 60cm radius of any tap is also Zone 2.
‘My driving force was to create a sophisticated room that felt luxurious and this his and hers vanity unit was key to creating the look. The cabinet was built in situ and then I painted it to match the sills and windows before attaching the antique-style hardware’
When shopping for bathroom lighting, it’s important to check for IP ratings to make sure it’s safe

How to choose the right lightbulb

Baffled by the choice of bulbs available? Here’s our buyer’s guide:

  • Incandescent bulbs are the most common, which you find in lighting shops, DIY stores and supermarkets. They don’t last long and use more energy than more modern designs.
  • Fluorescent lamps are more complex, use less energy and can last longer but are difficult to dispose of as they contain mercury.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps produce the same amount of light but with less power.
  • Halogens are a better version of incandescent bulbs. They are smaller with higher luminosity.
  • LEDs (light emitting diodes) are different, as they don’t have a filament that eventually burns out. Instead, they work by passing a current through a semi-conductor. This means that LEDs are much more efficient than halogens, consuming 85% less energy.
  • Using LEDs will lower your electricity bills and last over 10 times longer. LEDs are more expensive but as they last longer and reduce running costs, it is an investment worth making.
Enlli's style advice - Clever floor planning
Add candles to your bathroom for an even cosier effect

Light bulb brightness

When choosing the level of brightness, look for the lumens. Bulbs aren’t measured in wattage any longer – now it’s all about the lumens.

  • Lumens measure brightness while watts measure energy output.
  • A 25W incandescent bulb equals 220+ lumens; 40W equals 400+; 60W is 700+; 75W is 900+ and 100W is equivalent to 1,300+.
  • As a guide, if you normally buy 60W incandescent bulbs, which produce around 700-800 lumens, consider a lower energy alternative such as a 42W halogen, 12W compact fluorescent lamp or a 10W LED bulb instead.
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Feeling inspired? Why not check out our guide on how to make the most of natural light in your kitchen or Abigail Ahern’s advice on lamps, side lights and how to use artificial flowers.