Thursday, June 9, 2022

Shed Some Light on the Subject

Looking up at a bunch of pendant lights.

Just How Much Light Do I Need for Each Room?

 The amount of light in a space can make or break a room. Too much light and you’ll feel overwhelmed, too little and you won’t be able to function. How much light do you need in each room? That all depends on which room, its size, and your preferences. 

Read on to gain an understanding of what the proper amount of light is and why that changes based on the usage and size of the room.

Know Your Lumens

If you’ve been using watts as a gauge of which light bulbs to buy, you’re not alone. However, watts measure energy usage, which indirectly helps you know how bright the bulb is but isn’t very accurate. For instance, LED bulbs are lower energy consumption but produce a similar amount of light to higher watt incandescent bulbs. 

Designers’ rule of thumb for lighting is about 1000-2000 lumens per 100 square feet. Different rooms in the house may require different levels of lighting. Even specific areas within rooms will require different levels of light. 

Light Requirements

There are three types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting is the foundational light that provides for general needs. Task lighting is more specific lighting that focuses on the purposes of the room. For instance, a lamp near the comfy chair where you like to read, a bright light above the stove where you cook, etc. Accent lighting is more for decorative purposes. It creates mood, and sets the tone.

Most rooms of the house need each of these three types of lighting in differing amounts based on their purpose and design. 

Bathroom vanity with sconce lighting in gold.


The room in the house that needs the most light is the bathroom. It requires 7000-8000 lumens. If you think about it, it’s easy to understand why it needs so much light. The bathroom is a place of some pretty detailed work. Everything from putting on makeup and shaving to removing splinters and cleaning injuries needs a lot of light.

The bathroom can also be a relaxing oasis that calls for some mood lighting to make your own at-home spa. This kind of light is warmer and dimmer, the complete opposite of the light you need for many bathroom tasks. 

Even though the bathroom has smaller square footage, it has a complex lighting situation that needs plenty of planning. Sadly, too many bathrooms make do with some vanity lighting and a few recessed lights over the shower and toilet. 

Give your bathroom lighting an upgrade by starting with plenty of ambient light. Put recessed lights all over the bathroom, flooding it with ambient light. Add vanity task lighting with sconces, strip lights, lighted mirrors, etc. that deliver light right where you need it most at the vanity. 

Add some accent lighting to create mood with a chandelier over the tub with a dimmer switch. Candles are an excellent choice for mood lighting. Or splurge on a chromatherapy bathtub for the ultimate spa experience.

Kitchen with island and cage style lighting pendants.


Work areas of the kitchen need just as much light as the bathroom: about 7000-8000 lumens. Just like the bathroom, start with a hefty dose of ambient light. Because you use the whole kitchen as a work space, be generous with the lumens for your ambient lighting so you’ll be able to work just about anywhere. 

Add task lighting in areas where you know you might need a supplement regularly, like over the sink, stove, and prep area. Upper cabinets and range hoods can create shadows in spots where you’re working so task lighting in these areas is especially important. Under cabinet lighting and pendant lights are a great addition to these areas. 

Get creative with your kitchen accent lighting. LED tape lights often can be programmed with different colors or movements so you can change things up. Consider where you put your accent lighting as well. Above the cabinets is an excellent option. Under cabinet lighting can double for task and accent lighting. 

Large living room with recessed lighting all over the ceiling.

Living Room

The living room generally needs about 1000-2000 lumens. If that seems pretty dim compared to the kitchen or bathroom, consider the vastly different uses of these rooms. The living room’s tasks aren’t as work related, they are more pleasure related. Recreation doesn’t need as much light. 

While ambient light is important in the living room, task and accent lighting play the leading roles here. Use strategically placed lamps for reading, games, and other limited activities. Often what you do in the living room creates its own light, like the TV, laptop, and smart phone decreasing the need for lighting. 

Make lighting part of your design plans for the living room. Lamps and accent lighting are as much a part of the decor in the living room as the throw pillows or the furnishings. Let your lighting add to the design.

Elegant tiled hallway with bar sconces and footlights.


Foyers, hallways, and stairwells need the least amount of light of any other space in the house, requiring only 500-1000 lumens. You want enough light to ensure you can navigate safely, but that’s all. There are no tasks to plan for in a hallway so make your hallway lighting about style and mood. 

Sconces are a stand-out choice for long hallways where you need to spread a little light down the corridor. They add interest and transition the design from one space to another. Look for ceiling lights that add texture with a different shape or that create a pattern with the light. 

Smaller pendants or chandeliers can make the hallway a feature instead of something you tend to hide. Think about the spaces that the hallway connects to create harmony in the whole house design. 

Light up your home with all the right lighting. Check out DecorPlanet’s broad selection today. 

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