House & Garden

Clever Lighting Tricks Used By Interior Designers

Ask any interior designer about their tricks and secrets, and they’ll keep things very close to their chest! However, they might divulge that their secret weapon is almost always lighting. The choice of lights in your home have a huge effect on the ambience and aesthetics. You can change the entire vibe of a room with carefully chosen lights.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. Getting the perfect lighting placement is a tricky business. It starts with choosing the right light source for every room. Interior designers use a trick called ‘layered lighting’, to mix things up and create a variety of light sources. It’s not easy, but you can recreate a similar thing without spending thousands on an expert! Let’s take a look.

photo source

Dimmer switches

Our first trick is a simple dimmer switch. The first part of layering your lighting is the essential overhead light. However, that light is often far too bright and intrusive. Especially if you’re trying to create a soft, cosy glow in winter. Instead, try installing a dimmer switch on your overheads. You can control that bright light, and turn it down to reflect the mood of the room. It’s also great for those early mornings when your eyes struggle to adjust to the brightness!

Lamps and task lighting

Next, you’re looking to layer the lighting with some simple task lights. Lamps are the perfect example here, and you’ll dot them around the room according to your usage. If you like to snuggle up in the corner with a book, put a small lamp in that same place. If you’re in the kitchen, install a task light in the area you like to cook. This is all about giving you an extra burst of light where you need it, without overpowering the room. It’s an essential element of a beautiful house.

Candles and ambient lights

If you’re looking to create a truly cosy warmth in the home, you need ambient lighting. There are all sorts of ways to create ambient lighting, but we find that candles are the best. They give a soft, warm glow, and that flicker gives movement to the light. It’s perfect for cold winter evening to give the room a warmer feel. You can also use fairy lights in certain rooms to achieve your ambient light goals.

Use lights underneath and behind surfaces

This is a tricky one, but it works wonders when you get it right. Ideally, you want to use strip lights underneath a surface to give a soft glow around the edges. For example, use them under the edge of your breakfast island. Or behind the mirror in your bathroom. It’s a soft and subtle glow, but gives definition to your spaces.


Pendants are such a beautiful addition to your home. They add drama, interest or wow factor, yet when they’re hung too high or low, it can make them look completely out of place. So, how high should you place them?

Ideally, pendants should hang 70-75cm above your dining table.

Pendants in the kitchen should sit 70-80cm above the bench or island.

Bedside pendants need to sit a minimum of 30-50cm from your bedside table top. For a more visually appealing look, I would have them sitting at the same height as your bedhead (you can see how I did this in my son’s room with our $20 rustic bedside pendant I made).

In hallways, it is recommended pendants sit at least 30cm above head height.

If you have higher ceilings (like I do), you will need to lower the pendants. I had to do this with our new dining room pendant, which you can see on the Woman of Style and Substance Instagram feed. A rule some interior designers use is to add 7-8cm for each 30cm.

Now you know the interior design secrets! Use them in your own home, and you’ll notice the difference immediately.

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