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The Ultimate All-In-One Home Lighting Guide

Choosing the right configuration of lighting can make or break a room and the overall feel of a home. Too little or too much can be equally bad, making it hard to focus on the tasks at hand and can change the feel of your home from a soothing oasis to an uncomfortable environment. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to make your home more appealing and pleasant to live in by changing the type of lighting you utilise. In this guide, we will discuss what lighting works best in which rooms and why!


In many homes the kitchen is the nerve centre of nourishment and socialisation. Drop pendant lamps work well to illuminate major work surfaces such as bench tops and islands. There are two kinds of pendant drop lamps: general and directional. Directional lamps are designed to focus light on a specific area, while general lamps help diffuse light throughout a space. These lights can be rigged with dimmer switches allowing you to set the exact level of light you need for any task. We recommend a three-drop lighting system for general illumination.

Recessed lighting such as LED downlights works well for general illumination when specific cooking or cleaning tasks are not required. As with drop pendants, these lights can be set to a dimmer allowing you to set the correct illumination for the kitchen at night, during the day, or while entertaining. Typically a mix of overhead lighting incorporating LED downlights for overhead and drop pendants for task-specific lighting is ideal and will give your home a beautifully modern appearance and feel. The recommended lighting for a kitchen is between 5,000 and 10,000 lumens, and the minimum task lighting should be no less than 450 lumens.

Sitting Room/Study

The family areas of a home are the unofficial focal points of a home, and the lighting used in these areas can help set the mood and overall feel of the home. Lighting has been shown to affect mood, attitude, and even visually change the dimensions of a room or an entire home. Setting up the perfect lighting in these areas depends on a number of factors, including whether there is art on the walls; what kind of natural lighting is available such as windows or skylights; and what the primary use of the room is. A room that serves merely as a life-support system for the big-screen telly will need less in the way of lighting than a sitting room intended for conversation and socialisation.

In these rooms, a mixture of downlights, floor lamps, and table lamps work well. The downlights provide general overhead illumination, while floor lamps add decorative flair and light in the corners. Table lamps in turn are primarily task lighting, such as for curling up with a good book. By altering the various light sources in the room, you can also change the ambience of the room.

You can also employ interior wall lights or track lighting to highlight objets d'art, such as paintings, statuary, and so forth. These types of light both aid in illumination and add dramatic blades of shadow and illumination to an area, heightening the emotional impact of a space and drawing the eye naturally to the room's intended focal point. Many interior designers recommend sending wall lights upward or directly downward, adding a visual "texture" to the space and playing to the natural human tendency to think in terms of verticals and visual layers. The typical lighting for a sitting area should range between 1,500 and 3,000 lumens, while reading lights should cast no less than 400 lumens to avoid eye strain and long-term sight damage.


Sleeping areas should feel cosy and calming. Many bedrooms are actually overlit, with standard lighting in the 3,000-5,000 lumen range. While this is great for reading, it can interfere with sleeping and intimate activities. For a more romantic, soothing feel, try adding a mix of wall lighting with flexible arms and independent switches for reading and table lamps with lower wattage and a lower lumen output for environmental lighting. Instead of pointing the lights directly at the bed, angle them away to provide ambient illumination. A small table lamp with a covered shade and low-watt bulb can help simulate candlelight, making it ideal for those romantic moments. Meanwhile, the table lamps allow for comfortable reading while not encouraging one to stay awake.

In children's bedrooms, consider a table lamp and recessed wall lighting coupled with a night light. This provides adequate light to see by if they need to get up in the middle of the night while also shedding enough light for play or tasks such as homework. Overhead lights are fine while cleaning or playing, but the "stacked" lighting arrangement allows your child to focus light where it is needed most during play time or while tending to schoolwork. Bedroom illumination should be limited to 2,000-4,000 lumens, a minimum of 500 lumens for reading, and 400 lumens for closet spaces.


Bathrooms require some of the brightest lights in the home outside the kitchen because of the emphasis on personal grooming. Sidelights such as sconces work well to illuminate the sides of the face and reduce shadows, while bright overhead lighting such as LED downlights help to eliminate highlights and lowlights on one's face while grooming. LED downlights also make cleaning easier by highlighting the places that need the most attention. Baths should be lit at between 4,000-8,000 lumens, while illumination at the personal grooming area should not be less than 1,700.

Dining Room

In the dining room, the focal point of the room should always be the table. This is the place the family is most commonly in one place at one time. Because of this, a combination of bright overhead lighting or drop pendant lighting and midrange wall lighting helps to create a layered effect with visual texture and depth. If you have art in the dining room,wall lighting will help to bring this to the forefront without overshadowing the table. Indirect lighting helps to define the space and make the area feel more soothing and comfortable, inviting the family to linger over dinner. Because of the dining room's multipurpose utility, average lighting in the dining room should range between 3,000-6,000 lumens.

Interior, Entry, Hallways

These areas rarely require more than sufficient lighting to see by. The exception to this rule is if you have specific pieces of art or unusual architectural features you wish to point up. Accent lighting, such as recessed wall lights or downward-directed overhead lights, can help highlight these features without overpowering the area. Some examples of this are parabolic aluminised reflectors and multifaceted reflectors, which are designed specifically to channel light in one direction. However, the light should never be so close to the artwork as to risk damage. For stairwells and entries, the ambient illumination should range from 1,200-4,000 lumens, while hallways should average 1,200-2,500 lumens.

Outdoor Illumination

Many people overlook the exterior of the home, but this is always the first thing people see when they come to visit. Additionally, proper outdoor lighting adds texture and dimension to a yard and heightens visibility, helping to repel criminals. To achieve this effect, solar-powered garden lights help to pick out pathways and walks. Motion-activated floodlights add security and illumination when necessary. At the doorway, up-and-down lights or traditional sconce lighting make finding keys and avoiding missed steps easier. Doorway illumination should range between 1-2,000 lumens, while path lighting should be a minimum of 300 lumens.

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate All-In-One Home Lighting Guide”
  • kim

    Hello Patrick,
    I have bought a new house and all the lights are down lights and I'm fairly sure they will not be led...on a limited budget ,but Aldies have a special of a pack of four for $24.99 gu10 warm light 3000k, 440lm, / gu5.3 3000k 410lm, 36d ...
    Looking at your article. .it doesn't seem these would be any good?
    Little confused, can you help?
    Are they worth buying?

    • Scott Pendlebury

      Yes - LED is confusing - especially when LED lights range from under $10 to over $100. Basically the size (watts) of the LED chip determines its brightness, and the larger it is the bigger heat sink it needs to keep the chip cool so it lasts for a long time. The problem with globes is the size of chip is smaller (so not very bright) and the size of the heat sink is too small. As a replaceable globe has to be the shape and size of a globe the heat sink is often under-sized. We see customers who are replacing cheap globes after only a year - yet a well designed LED downlight has a large metal heat sink and should last for decades in a standard residential installation. LED lights do not have replaceable globes as they are not expected to be replaced. Also, many cheap LED globes use cheap chips - if the brand of the chip (eg Samsung, Epistar, Sharp) is not mentioned then it is likely to be poor quality. If you go for globes then you need to have the connector for the globe (12V MR16 or 240V GU10). 410 lumens is not very bright (less than a 30 watt halogen) - it would be ok for small alcoves and rooms and decorative lights, but not living areas. If you want to call us to discuss options please ring 03 95443003 - we have a 20% EOFY sale this month!

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