How to design a lighting plan

Oct 15, 2017 | Anoushka's Blog, Interior design and decoration

Lighting can end up being an afterthought when designing a home. However it can really make a room when done correctly. I’ve often worked with lighting consultants, and they bring a very keen eye to the design to ensure all levels of lighting are given the consideration required. So how do you go about ensuring lighting is the best if possibly can be in your home? I’ve broken it down step by step below.

There are 3 levels of light to consider, task, accent and ambient lighting. Most architect and designers will start with task lighting. These are areas that need specific lighting for function such as over kitchen islands, desk spaces, inside cupboards.

Task lighting pendants above kitchen island

The next consideration is your ambient lighting this lighting delivers the most amount of light into a space such as your main downlights, wall lights and pendant lighting. I see a lot of downlights in homes now with not much else in terms of ambient lighting. Think about adding layers here, so up lights on wall to light a lovely racked ceiling, or softly every second or third step of your stairs at floor level, this is all ambient lighting.

Up down lights

Then finally consider your accent lighting. This is where you can get really creative as the lighting can be less functional.  Here we’re talking spot lights for pieces or artwork, soft LED strip lighting underneath shaving cabinets or vanities and then feature lights such as beautiful pendants in hallways, floor lights and table lights placed strategically in each room.

Drop pendants for soft mood lighting either side of bed.

So once in planning mode draw up a floor plan of your room. Mark up the main areas that need task lighting, then focus in on your accent and ambient lighting. For your accent lighting think about the features of your room and place lighting there, for your ambient lighting think about where in the room you will be relaxing and require softer lighting. Maybe use crosses, circles and square symbols for each.

Now work out your budget, and armed with this start sourcing your fixtures. I like to tabulate these by room and by function. List the light, size, supplier and cost and also picture each piece. That way you can start seeing your fixtures side by side and work out if stylistically they fit well together. Don’t’ be afraid to add in a real feature for each room maybe picking up on a colour, texture or specific style that already exists in the room. Most of all have fun with it, lighting can change the mood of a room for the better.

I hope these tips are useful when designing your home. If you have any questions please contact me on

NOTE: Images used under Fair Use, and the above commentary is a personal view and not commercial in nature, and were sourced from a variety of online sources and personal archives.

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