Interior Lighting 101

light collection

Interior Lighting 101

Nothing creates a mood quite like lighting. Whatever atmosphere you are aiming for, your lighting choices can really enhance or detract. Let’s go over some of the basic tenets of how to use light to set the scene.


One of the most important aspects of successful lighting design is to plan light sources at different levels in a room. This allows you to layer light that can be used separately or collectively, keeping your options flexible. You can accomplish this with table lamps, floor lamps, wall scones and overhead lighting options.

layered lighting design


Never underestimate the power of a dimmer switch. Being able to minutely adjust the amount of light in a room is an easy yet powerful way to have the best lighting for any situation. For dining, the light source should be 30 – 36 inches from the top of the table. A chandelier, or several pendant lights, with dimming capabilities is recommended as it is large enough to sufficiently light the space for day to day, but you can reduce the artificial glow and add candles when you are looking to create a more intimate mood.


Don’t be afraid to use colored bulbs or rope lights for a festive focal point. Instead of typical white lights under your cabinets in the kitchen, why not go for a soft blue or warm orange to add a sense of fun for entertaining. You can pop a colored rope light behind a wall mirror for added illumination and whimsy.

lighting design

Lighting Examples from Circa Lighting


Light fixtures should not be utilitarian. Think of them as functional pieces of art that add to the overall feel of a space. Whatever your home decor style – there are plenty of lighting options to suit your needs. They can be sparse, sculptural, ornate, glamorous – the variety is endless. You can choose to match your lamps and chandelier in the same aesthetic family for a traditional vibe, or you can mix and mash different styles and eras for a more modern feel.

Final Thoughts

  • Foyer fixtures should be about 4 feet from the door itself and the bottom of the fixture should be at least 7 feet from the floor; you don’t want any head injuries!
  • Remember to consider size when planning your space. For instance, if you have a double story foyer don’t be afraid to go big with the light fixture, like a double tiered chandelier. A petite powder room might best be served with recessed lights that don’t take up any space at all.
  • Don’t forget task lighting! Whether it be a desk lamp in an office, scones on either side of a vanity mirror or an art light above a prized painting; some moments require their own specialized light source
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