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Learn how to layer light and create a beautiful atmosphere at home

A well-lit home can elevate an interior to the next level, creating an expensive and luxurious look that doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank! The key to getting the perfect lighting scheme for your new home is in understanding and combining different light fixtures and layering different types of interior lighting.

For the best results with minimal stress,start planning early on in the project and communicating your ideas with the designer and electrician.

To give you some inspiration, here is our step-by-step interior designer guide to layering light.

What is layering lighting?

Put simply, layering lighting means using a combination of different lighting to create a harmonious interior, rather than just relying on one main light for the whole room.

As John Cullen Lighting explain in their helpful blog post,
“Layering light is as important to a lighting designer as playing with texture, colour and materials is to an interior designer when it comes to enhancing a scheme”

Why layering lighting?

Layering lighting allows you to be more flexible and adapt the light to suit different activities. A stand-alone lamp by the sofa can create a more relaxing environment to curl up with your favourite book in than the main light, while strip lighting above work surfaces in the kitchen can make it much easier to see what you’re doing.

How to layer light

  1. Planning

First things first – define the quantity of light needed for the particular feel you are trying to convey.

The amount of light you need in a space depends on everything from your ceiling height to your wall colours and the number of windows you have in the space. Counterintuitively, you need more downlights if you have more windows because glass doesn’t reflect light as well as white walls!

Another thing to bear in mind is the quality of the natural daylight and night light (street lighting, brightly lit buildings outside your home, etc.). These may affect your light layering  scheme, too.

If you need some help with the planning stage, it’s always a good idea to get some expert advice from an interior design company like Temza to make sure you’re really making the most of everything your home has to offer.

  1. Decisions, Decisions

Next, choose your type of lighting. Lighting can be functional, practical or decorative and Different lights have distinct purposes.

Ambient lighting is great for basic general illumination and is the canvas on which you paint your overall light picture. This type of lighting is crucial as it is a replacement of natural light. Ambient lights soften the shadows in the space and make for a much more relaxed atmosphere. It typically comes from an overhead fixture, although depending on the space it could also be table or floor lamp.

Accent lighting is used to highlight different parts of a room or features, e.g. pictures, fireplaces, or ornate pieces of furniture. It can also be used to draw attention to architectural features such as steps in a more contemporary space.

Accent lighting is also known as directional light and is usually three times stronger than ambient lighting. Think of it as the jewellery or the accessories of your room – something that doesn’t need to be functional but serves to enhance the overall effect.

Extravagant, show-stopping pieces like chandeliers are great example of accent lighting and function as a design centrepiece while adding a layer of light.

Task lighting is also known as practical lighting. –

Think about how the right lighting could make things easier for you; bathroom mirror lighting or undercabinet kitchen lighting can make everyday tasks much easier, for example.

A bright desk lamp in the study or a beside reading lamp can also be really helpful and enable you to make the most of your space.

  1. Get creative

Think about how you can use layering lighting in each room, hallway and corridor of your home to create a stunning overall effect.


Hallways are often forgotten when it comes to lighting, but they are an important part of the home that connects everything together harmoniously.

If you have a standard narrow corridor, add a row of downlights to visually create beautiful arcs of light.

Consider adding a piece of artwork at the end of the corridor and focus some light on it to attract the eye and make a ‘boring’ part of the house much more interesting.

If you have a wide corridor,  use decorative wall lights, and a lantern for general or ‘ambient’ light. Uplights might look interesting, especially if you have a textured wall of some sort (bricks or stone, for example) or if you have chosen a unique wall covering.


Here you can guide your guests’ attention with lighting. Once you have your general lighting set up, you can accentuate areas of interest with directional spotlights. If you are planning a big artwork for one of walls, add  a picture light above the piece or a directional spotlight illuminating it from above. Likewise, a nice, textured feature wall with interesting wallpaper will look even more stunning with a row of wall washer lights to highlight it.

You can also add table or floor lamps as ambient lighting and distribute these around the space for a more cosy and homely atmosphere.


Built-in joinery and mood lighting are best friends. Although joinery is most commonly used as a practical solution to provide more storage,  that shouldn’t stop anyone from making it into a feature! Adding just a little bit of open display with a recessed LED light will break up the bulkiness of the storage piece and provide a nice feature in the room to display your favourite books, ornaments or decorative items.

Lit shelves can provide a window into the room and transform rooms that receive little daylight by providing a focus. Integrated joinery lighting is one of the key ways to layer with light and is much more straightforward than you might think.


Layer different types of lighting in the bathroom to transform it from a practical space to get ready for work in to a relaxing spa when you come home.

Downlights are a great option for a main bathroom light, with some extra task lights on either side of the mirror to make getting ready a breeze.

A low-level floor washer or softly-lit niches could act as feature lights and create a more gentle, relaxing mood to enjoy a hot bath in before bed.


  • Use lamps that provide all types of light (ambient, task or accent). Floor lamps and table lamps are flexible solutions that can be moved around easily.
  • Add dimmer switches wherever possible. A dimmer might be helpful to install into your task light in the bathroom. If you have to get up in the middle of the night, you might not want the bathroom lighting on full blast. However, when you’re doing your makeup, the brightest light possible is probably the most ideal. In bedrooms or receptions, dimmers can also be used to create different moods.
  • Install each type of lighting on its own switch so that you can control each layer of light individually.

For even more ways to layer light, check out Pooky’s excellent guide.

If you’re feeling inspired but need some expert advice on how to achieve a beautifully lit, harmonious interior, give Temza a call to take the stress out of interior design. Our talented team of in-house designers can guide you through every step of the process, leaving you free to enjoy your stylish new home. Click here to find out more: https://temza.co.uk/.

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Read our interior design guide to layering interior light to help you create a beautifully lit, harmonious home.
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