Lighting is often the most overlooked part of peoples’ décor, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Most of us just need a little guidance on how to light a room. Don’t worry though, because we’ve brought in an expert to give you a few lighting tips! Today’s post is from our great friend, interior designer Cindy DeMaio from SIMPLY decorated. Take her lighting tips below, make a plan, and then implement a few changes to truly revolutionize your home! Take it away, Cindy!

How to Light a Room: Lighting Tips & Principles

We decorate our homes with so much thought – we sit on lots of sofas to find the perfect one, we contemplate fabric for chairs, spend hours choosing the best rug and pour over paint samples. We want our rooms filled with the right colors and textures to create the perfect ambiance. Yet, we often forget a HUGE detail to make the ambiance just right. The right lighting is the finishing touch that our rooms need and a well-chosen lightbulb can change the look of a room with a simple flip of a switch! Most people underestimate the importance of a great lighting plan, and let’s face it, navigating the light bulb aisle these days can make our heads spin! This is your guide to great lighting! We are going to break it down and shed some “light” on the confusion…we just couldn’t help ourselves.

girls on sofa with ambient lighting from floor lamp

The 3 Types of Lighting

First, let’s talk about the three types of lighting in a room: ambient, accent, and task. Ambient lighting is the general lighting in a room. Providing general illumination, it sets the tone of the room layering it with light in all areas. Chandeliers, can lights, and lamps are all examples of ambient lighting and are used to wash walls and ceilings with light.

The next type of lighting is accent. Accent lights highlight a certain area or object and are generally three times as bright as ambient lighting. It is typically best for these types of lights to have an articulated head, think track lighting or a wall mounted light over a picture. The light can be directed to a very specific point and give the space added interest.

The final type of lighting is task, which is direct lighting meant to aid in everyday activities such as reading, writing, and preparing food. Floor lights, desk lamps, and pendant lights are all examples of this type of lighting which falls in brightness between ambient and accent lighting.

A good lighting plan will combine all three types to create the best functionality in the space. We suggest using at least four light sources in a room making certain that each of the three types of lighting is used, as well as the ability to vary the brightness of the light with dimmers or 3-way switches.

Choosing the Right Light Bulbs!

row of incandescent hanging Edison bulbs

Once you’ve chosen the types of lights you want to use in your space, it’s time to add the bulbs! Here
are our best lighting tips to consider when purchasing light bulbs:

  1. Lumens are the amount of light emitted from a bulb. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb.
  2. Watts means energy. The lower the watts the less energy the bulb uses. It is important to understand that low watts do not mean low brightness…it means money in your pocket due to energy savings! A 60-Watt incandescent bulb is approximately equal to a 7 Watt LED.
  3. LED bulbs are 70-90% more efficient than old school incandescent bulbs and last much longer. The average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is 1,200 hours vs an LED which is 25,000 hours. Spending a little more up front will give you significant savings over the life span of the bulb: The 20-year estimated energy costs of a 60-watt incandescent bulb is $211, and a 7-watt bulb is $34.
  4. If you want to replace your incandescent bulbs with high efficiency LEDs follow these guidelines:
    Replace a 40 W Bulb incandescent bulb with a 450 Lumen Bulb, 60 W/ 800 Lumens, 75 W/ 1,100 Lumens, 100 W /1,600 Lumens.
  5. There is a range of “color temperature” in light bulbs:
    Soft white/ warm white is a great choice for bedrooms and living rooms, which provides a traditional warm, cozy feel. Bright white/ cool white is a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms and give spaces a whiter more energetic feel. The last one is day light. This type of bulb provides a great contrast among colors but is extremely bright and probably too harsh for general home use, although some people love these bulbs for task lighting in craft rooms or reading.

hanging light fixtures, chandeliers and bar lights taken in theLOFT

Here’s a Bonus Lighting Tip!

To choose the appropriate size of an overhead light for your room, take the width and length of the room and add them together. For example, in a room that is 12’ long and 14’ wide you would add 12’ and 14’ to get the number 26. An overhead light for that room should be approximately 26”. That’s an easy decorator tip that works every single time!

Editor’s Note: Thanks again to Cindy for giving us the basics on how to light a room! We hope you found the valuable lighting tips above to be as helpful as we did. For more great content and advice, head over to SIMPLY decorated and subscribe!

WFMO Isn’t Just For Furniture – We’ve Got Lighting Too!

Finally, pay WFMO a visit and let us help you light your way (pun totally intended)! We’ve got loads of home décor accessories and lighting options. Including all the fixtures, bar lights, chandeliers, table lamps and floor lamps you could ever want! Visit our stores in Woodstock/Acworth, Dallas/Hiram, and Rome today!

See you next week on the WFMO blog for a look at our massive 2019 Labor Day Sale!