Five Designer Lighting Tricks

We've boiled lighting design into three key types of lighting -- overhead lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting -- to help you crack the code on having a perfectly lit interior.
05/28/2014 11:46 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2014

Good lighting can totally alter the mood, right? So it's really important to make sure you have the best lighting possible in your space. Even though lighting design can be the key step in tying your room together, it is one of the most overlooked points of interior design. We've boiled lighting design into three key types of lighting -- overhead lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting -- to help you crack the code on having a perfectly lit interior.

While this might sound a bit boring and technical, understanding light bulbs is a major part of getting the best lighting design. Since there are countless different types of bulbs and they each produce a slightly different effect, we thought we'd share the ins and out of a few of the most popular types: florescent, incandescent, LED, halogen, and CFL bulbs. Each type delivers offers a slightly different glow. Florescent lights are my least favorite because they give a yellow glow and can strain the eyes (remember that flickering?). These are most often found in commercial and industrial interiors, but many homes will use them in kitchens, garages, or basements too. Incandescent bulbs are standard light bulbs and are great for lamps and overhead lighting. LED and halogen are brighter and use less energy that incandescent bulbs, but halogens emit a good amount of heat. CFL bulbs are the curving energy efficient bulbs that are great for lamps and fixtures that hide their shape.

Overhead lighting is standard in lighting design because it's usually built into the interior architecture. In living rooms and bedrooms choose incandescent or CFL bulbs for a the right amount of light that's not too bright. Try LEDs in places that require brighter lighting like kitchens and bathrooms. Consider adding a dimmer to bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms so you can be in total control of your lighting ambiance.

Ambient lighting creates a softer glow than the overhead lights above, which can sometimes create harsh, direct lighting. Use table lamps and floor lamps to create ambient lighting throughout your room. When you're looking for more relaxing feeling with lighting that will be gentle on they eyes, turn your overhead lights off and your lamps on. Make sure you have a few lamps around the room so there is enough light when the overheads are off.

Task lighting is essential in interior lighting design, so don't forget about it! Desk lamps are the most common form of task lighting, but you can incorporate task lighting anywhere you need direct light. Think reading lamps, bedside lights, kitchen prep surfaces, vanities. In your lighting design, be sure to consider how you use the space and where you'd like additional light. Instead of carrying your makeup and mirror over to the window, add lighting to make your task easier.

Layer your lighting. Having overhead lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting allows you to have a number of different combinations of how to light your space, depending on the mood you'd like to evoke. For the brightest space turn your overhead lighting on with a few lamps lit. For a softer setting, use just the lamps to create a relaxed atmosphere. When you're working or reading, make sure you have appropriate task lighting so your eyes don't get tired.

What are your designer lighting tips?