Understand a few lighting basics to create the perfect illumination plan for your Denver home.


Regardless of how well-designed your home is, poor lighting choices quickly dampen the mood. Working with a design professional versed in the subtle nuances of lighting design helps. Still, you should understand a few basics as you begin your search for the perfect fixtures.


When lighting designers and interior designers create a lighting plan, virtually all the fixtures they select fall into two categories: direct and indirect lighting. In this post, we’ll discuss the difference between the two types, and explain how to use both styles to create a beautifully lit space.


What is direct lighting?

Direct lighting refers to lights or fixtures that point directly at the subject or space with no diffusion or bouncing off of other surfaces. These are typically fixtures that direct the light downward onto a surface below. If you stare up at a fixture and see the bulb, then you’re looking at a source of direct light. Recessed lighting and track lighting are the most common fixtures for this application.


What is indirect lighting?

Indirect lighting most often refers to fixtures that bounce light off of a surface or highlight a specific design feature without pointing the light straight at the object. Up-lights that sit above eye-level to highlight an interesting ceiling feature is an excellent example of indirect lighting. LED strip lights are also frequently used for indirect lighting because they can easily be hidden in recessed areas.


When to use direct lighting:

Direct lighting is an ideal solution for task-oriented spaces like kitchens, dining areas, offices, or bathrooms. While sources of direct light are both functional and beautiful, it’s essential to consider the function of each light as well as its aesthetic value when searching for this style of fixture.  Most lighting plans start with direct lighting and indirect sources are added later. We love to use direct lighting fixtures to create a striking focal point. You can cluster pendants in a kitchen or dining space, or over an island where attractive and functional light is essential to illuminate the area where food is prepared or served.


When to use indirect lighting:

Indirect lighting fixtures are either shaded or bounced off of another surface to provide soft overall light to a room. You’ll often find indirect lighting used to bring attention to architectural features, or as a purely decorative design element.


Home theaters are excellent for indirect lighting. Dimmable wall sconces are often placed on either side of a screen to provide subtle and soft light both upward and downward, without creating a distracting screen glare. We like to place LED strips under stair treads to offer gentle (but hidden) illumination to a home theater without interfering with the viewing experience.


Always layer your sources of light.  

We recommend that you use both direct and indirect sources of light (along with other fixture styles) to create a layered approach to lighting your Denver home.


Find additional information about layered lighting here 


To start, determine the primary purpose of each room. Is the space task-driven (office, kitchen, bathroom, etc.), or is it a place to relax or hang out (living room, bedrooms, home theater, etc.)? After deciding how you’ll use each room, brainstorm ways to use both direct and indirect light to efficiently illuminate the space (or let us do it for you).


Need help in creating a lighting design plan for your space? We’re here for you! Give us a call (303) 222-9322 or visit a showroom, and our lighting experts will work with you to craft a plan that you’ll love.