Lighting Design Guide

Written by: Erica Spangler

Design Specialist

Use this guide to help determine which lighting style, design and fixture type you want for your space.

Indoor Lighting Styles


Directional lighting styles are very important to consider before you purchase indoor lighting. You will need to determine how much natural light the room has, where the room needs light and where you want to add it, such as on a wall or hanging from the ceiling. Here are some examples of the type of lighting style you may need and which lighting fixtures can help your room's space.

Ambient Lighting

  • Also known as general lighting
  • Casts light equally throughout a room
  • Typically requires more than one light fixture

Ambient lighting provides a wash of light throughout a room and can be achieved by using an array of light fixtures.

Ambient Lighting Fixtures:

Accent Lighting

  • Also known as spot lighting
  • Draws attention to the design of your room
  • Wall lights typically create this effect

Contemplate offsetting a large piece of furniture by placing a lamp on either side or draw attention to a fabulous piece of art with a picture light.

Accent Lighting Fixtures:

Decorative Lighting

  • Combines design, style and function
  • Made to match your home décor
  • Serves as another piece of artwork

Rethink your home's lighting experience by using lighting to help improve your home's design and look. Consider placing a chandelier in your master bedroom or adding several intricate wall sconces to dress up your hallway.

Decorative Lighting Fixtures:

Task Lighting

  • Illuminates your work throughout the entire day
  • Helps keep you productive during the darker hours
  • Sometimes called office lighting

Illuminate your busy areas where you complete the most work. Consider placing a great-looking floor lamp next to your chair or incorporating some beautiful pendants over your kitchen island.

Task Lighting Fixtures:

Types of Lighting Fixtures


These are the eight most common lighting fixtures you can consider for your home's lighting design. From the most common areas that these fixtures are installed to the type of lighting style that fixture will emit, make sure to understand the potential with each lighting fixture type.


Common Areas:

Foyer, Living Room, Dining Table

Lighting Style:

Decorative, Accent

Chandeliers are artistically designed to make a splash in your home. Incorporating one like a piece of jewelry will surely change the way you think about lighting.

Shop All Chandeliers

Chandelier Buying Guide

Wall Sconces

Common Areas:

Hallways, Living Rooms, Stairwells

Lighting Style:

Accent, Ambient, Decorative

Wall sconces, also called wall lights, typically draw the eye to a piece of art or furniture or work with overhead lighting for an overall, ambient lighting effect.

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Wall Sconce Buying Guide


Common Areas:

Kitchen, Foyer, Dining Table

Lighting Style:

Ambient, Accent, Decorative

Pendants work as an overhead lighting accent piece. These work great as an alternative to many ceiling fixtures. Adding pendants is a great way to accessorize.

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Pendant Buying Guide

Ceiling Lights

Common Areas:

Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Kitchens

Lighting Style:

Ambient, Task

Ceiling lights illuminate an entire space or room and, typically, create an ambient light experience with only installing one fixture. Consider a semi-flush for a flashier look.

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Ceiling Light Buying Guide


Common Areas:


Lighting Style:

Task, Decorative, Accent

Lamps produce extra lighting for virtually any room. Due to the portability, these offer a great way to add a personal touch of style to your living spaces.

Shop All Lamps
Lamp Buying Guide

Track Lighting

Common Areas:


Lighting Style:

Ambient, Accent

Track lighting, similar to pendant lights, connects to a track which installs to your ceiling. Many track lights may be pointed in multiple directions to illuminate a large area.

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Recessed Lighting

Common Areas:

Kitchen, Bathrooms, Living Rooms

Lighting Style:

Ambient, Accent, Task

Recessed lighting offers a popular way to incorporate additional lighting in any room. Recessed lights, sometimes called can lights, come in a variety of styles.

Shop All Recessed Lighting
Recessed Lighting Buying Guide

Under Cabinet Lighting

Common Areas:

Kitchen, Closets, Pantries

Lighting Style:

Task, Accent

Under Cabinet Lighting can add a softer light to your kitchen, pantry, or closets. These come in a variety of applications for easy install, which greatly enhances your home.

Shop All Under Cabinet Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting Buying Guide

Outdoor Lighting


Make the most of your outdoor lighting by considering the experience that can be created with the lighting options at night. There is so much design to consider on top of safety. Here are the basic outdoor lighting types and features you can consider.


Outdoor Lighting Types

Safety Lighting

  • Ensures safety and security outside your home
  • Sometimes called security lighting

Illuminate uneven walkways, stairwells or just add a little extra light for security reasons. An added benefit of safety lighting is that it can also enhance the look of your landscape at night.

Possible Lighting Fixtures:

Landscape Lighting

Common Areas:

Gardens, Decks, Porches

Lighting Style:

Accent, Safety

Landscape Lighting is one of the best ways to light up your yard, which can ensure that everything is illuminated for safety and security. Consider the design potential of landscape lighting at night.

Shop All Landscape Lighting

UL Rating

UL listed lets you know whether or not that particular light fixture is able to withstand the outdoor elements.

  • UL Dry is typically for indoor uses, where no moisture or water can affect the light.
  • UL Damp is preferred for porches or under overhangs, where the fixture is somewhat protected from direct contact with moisture and water.
  • UL Wet is able to withstand dense fog, rain, and snow and does not need to be covered.

Outdoor Lighting Features

Dark Sky

  • Eliminates light leakage (light pollution)
  • Some locations require dark sky lighting
  • Protects the night environment
Shop All Dark Sky Lighting


  • Turns on light automatically
  • Operates from dusk until dawn
  • No need to turn on the switch
Shop All Photocell Lighting

Motion Sensors

  • Light turns off after sensing motions
  • Great for security
Shop All Motion Lights

Solar Lights

  • Collects sun energy throughout the day
  • Converts the energy into light
Shop All Solar Lighting
Note: Before purchasing a light fixture for your home’s exterior, make sure to check if the light is listed for the necessary outdoor conditions, including weather or sprinklers.

Common Light Bulb Types

Which light bulb you purchase can be so important as we try to limit our energy usage. So which one do you need? Which one does your light fixture require? How many lumens does the bulb emit? These are all question you must consider before selecting the right bulb.


  • Most Common Type
  • Produces a warm, steady light
  • Generally, least expensive bulb type
  • “M base” is a medium-base bulb
  • “C base” is a candelabra-base bulb

Shop All Incandescent Bulbs

Shop All Edison Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL)

  • 75% less energy and less heat than incandescent
  • Lasts up to 10 times longer
  • Used anywhere a medium-base bulb goes
  • Can take several minutes for full brightness
Shop all CFL bulbs


  • Offers more light per watt than incandescents
  • If properly cared for, these outlast incandescents
  • Can be costly for initial purchase
  • Can be used with dimmers
  • Emits a significant amount of heat
Shop all Halogen bulbs

Light-emitting Diode (LED)

  • Uses less wattage than any other bulb type
  • Saves energy and money
  • Manufacturers claim their bulbs can last as long as 25,000 hours
  • Attains full brightness instantly
  • Mercury-free
Shop all LED bulbs

Watts Versus Lumens




Measurement of energy used by a light bulb.


Measurement of the total visible light emitted by a light bulb.


How Much Light Do I Need?


Use these formulas to see how many bulbs you may need on a chandelier. For instance, if you need 800 watts and each bulb is 60 watts, then you would need a chandelier with approximately with 10 to 15 light bulbs.


Ambient or General Lighting

Width of Room (feet) x Length of Room (feet) x 1.5= Total Number of Watts Needed


Dining room width is 11 feet with a length of 13 feet

11 x 13 x 1.5 = 214.3 watts



Width of Room (feet) x Length of Room (feet) x 2.5= Total Number of Watts Needed


Kitchen width is 16 feet with a length of 20 feet

16 x 20 x 2.5 = 800 watts



  • Most incandescent bulbs are dimmable
  • CFL bulbs have dimmable options
  • LED bulbs now have dimmable bulbs available

Shop All Dimmable Bulbs