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Interior Lighting Guide

Lighting is an often underestimated part of our homes and businesses. Besides having a huge impact on aesthetics and functionality, it can also have profound effects on your mood, emotions, and wellbeing.

How can you change the light in your home to be more beautoful and more productive? Fortunately, there is a lot of scientific research on the effects of light that can help with your interior lighting design. Instead of remodeling your home, you may just a need a slight tweaking of your lighting scheme.

Psychological and Physiological Effects of Light

  • Emotions (both positive and negative) are felt more intensely under bright light.

  • Excessive light at night, including electronic media, can create difficulties sleeping and exacerbate sleeping disorders (Consider installing lux on your electronic devices to combat the negative effects of blue light).

  • Students and workers are healthier, happier, and more productive when there is more natural light (daylighting).

Lighting is both an art and a science — it can affect our mood, appetite, and sleep. In order to implement an effective lighting strategy for your home, you will need a professional that fully understands electrical systems and lighting design. Besides the technical knowledge required, the person installing your lighting should also be concerned with mood, aesthetics, safety, and enjoyment.

Lighting Design Factors:

  • Size and space

  • Occupant’s age and preference

  • Ceiling height and shape

  • Color of walls and furniture

  • Existing lights and electrical setups

  • Points of interest, art work, and highlight areas

  • Traffic patterns

  • Shadows and reflections

  • Daylight integrations

  • Surface characteristics

  • Color appearance

  • Lighting controls and distribution

  • Source, task, and eye geometry

  • Economics and energy efficiency

  • Spatial perceptions

  • Level of illumination (lux)

  • Psychological and physiological factors

  • Electrical codes, documentation, and specifications

Although we can give you some general guidelines for how to light the different rooms in your home, every home is different and requires specialized attention. Take this guide as a starting point, but remember that you will probably need to consult with a professional in order to get your space exactly how you want it.

Lighting Design Layers

Most lighting designers think in terms of three main lighting categories:

1. General or Ambient Lighting

These are called “general” or “ambient” because they are simply used to make an interior space visible. They provide general lighting for a space and are sometimes used to refer to natural, or existing light. Think of general/ambient light as natural light combined with light coming from normal room lights.

2. Task Lighting

Task lighting is directed lighting toward a specific area to give more detail to objects and provide safe passage. Any close-range work such as cooking, sewing, drawing, and writing should have task lighting—enough to see a flaws in canvas and clothing.

3. Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to “accentuate” features and add visual interest to an object or area. It’s the extra special something that makes people go surprise. Use accent lights to add drama and change the mood of a room.

Lighting Fixture Types

It can be useful to sort lighting fixture types into a couple main categories to make your lighting design a little easier:

1. Surface Lights

Surface-mounted fixtures are visible and are usually flush against the ceiling or wall. They are most commonly used in entryways, hallways, and bedrooms.

2. Pendant Lights

Pendant fixtures hang down from the ceiling by a cord, cable, or chain. They are usually found in dining rooms and kitchens, especially in home with higher ceilings.

3. Recessed Lights

Recessed lighting is hidden away, usually in a ceiling cavity, so you can’t see the light source directly. This type of indirect lighting, usually in the form of downlight/potlights, can be used effectively in any room of the home. Just be careful not to go overboard as you want a variety of light sources and types

4. Track Lights

Track lighting can provide a lot of flexible lighting options. There are multiple bulbs on one track, with multiple circuits and voltages. You can choose to have them suspended from the ceiling like pendant lights or surface-mounted, like surface light. The variety of finished, colors, and styles can be overwhelming, so speak with a lighting professional before making a final decision.

5. Portable Lights

Portable lights are just what you would expect them to be — portable. They are usually plugged into an electrical outlet by their cord, however, battery-operated portable fixtures are becoming more and more popular. Portable lights are typically uses for desks and bedside tables. You can sometimes achieve the look you are looking for by adding some floor lamps to the area. The key to lighting design is to have a variety of fixtures, color temperatures, and styles.

6. Landscape Lighting

We aren’t focusing on landscape (or outdoor) lighting in this article, but you should know that they are a whole other category in itself. Landscape lighting encompasses bullet lights, flood lights, motion sensors, deck lighting, security lighting, and well and wash lights. From landscape lighting to security lighting, Hiller Electrical can handle all aspects of outdoor lighting installation, maintenance, and repair.

Color Temperature

CCT (Correlated Color Temperature) is the measure of the light’s color appearance. Light tends to fall into three different categories (all measured in Kelvin):

  • Warm

  • Neutral

  • Cool

Light color is measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. Lower numbers mean the light appears yellowish, and higher numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer.

It’s important to take into consideration the color temperature of your lights. Consult the image below to find the color temperature of your choice:


Adds a warm, cozy feel to the room, best for bedrooms and living rooms.


The whiter light is best for areas that require energy and focus, such as the kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and utility rooms.


This bright, blueish/whitish light is most similar to noon on a sunny day. This type of lighting is great for reading, projects, and other hobbies. Cooler light is better for areas where you need extra attention to detail, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

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