8 Creative, Unique, and Cool Lighting Ideas

Marissa Hermanson
Updated September 17, 2021
Two women working on their laptop at their living room table
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From backlit LED panels to sconces, these lighting options cast an ethereal glow

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Light fixtures are the jewelry that accessorizes a room. It’s the bling to the entire outfit, which is why it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Like furnishings and decor, lighting adds personality, helping bring your style to life.

Lighting also is functional. It can be either indirect, playing more of an ambient role, or direct, helping the light the way and allowing you to carry on with your tasks long after the sun goes down. And in most spaces, there should always be a mix of both direct and indirect to help properly illuminate an area and give you plenty of radiant options.

Here are eight lighting ideas to consider as you plan your next light fixture design and installation.

Detail of a crystal chandelier
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Ceiling lighting is an investment as it involves mounting and installation from a professional. Light fixture installation costs an average of $470. Whether you are adding track lighting to illuminate your home gallery or a chandelier in your foyer, your ceiling fixtures need a bit of thought, as it involves some measuring and installation.

Pendant Lights in Unique Materials

Pendant lamps are small light fixtures that hang from the ceiling by a cord or rod. They can be clustered in small groupings to provide direct lighting above countertops, say over a kitchen island or in a bathroom. Or, pendant lights can be used as a statement piece to showcase an area and create a vignette, like over a kitchen sink or above a cozy banquette. From rattan to hand-blown glass, pendants come in various materials, which can add texture and personality to your space.

Eye-Catching Chandeliers

Larger and generally pricier than pendant lights, chandeliers are the glitzy diamond necklace of ceiling fixtures. While, by definition, pendants have one light bulb, chandeliers incorporate many bulbs into one prominent fixture. Traditionally chandeliers are a focal point, hung where you want an abundance of light and want to make a major style statement, like in a lofty, palatial entryway or above a formal dining table.

For a more modern or midcentury vibe, try a sputnik pendant with glass globes shooting out from the center like a magical starburst. Or, if you are trying to evoke tradition, a classic tiered chandelier with crystal glass beading is always a tried-and-true winner that adds a dramatic effect to a space.

Flush and Semi-flush

While chandeliers are meant for voluminous spaces, flush and semi-flush fixtures are ideal for lower ceilings where there isn’t much headroom. Flush lights are installed against the ceiling, while semi-flush have a few inches between the ceiling and fixture. These fixtures look best in spaces with low ceilings like basements or hallways. Look for colored glass, geometric shapes, or other fun patterns.

Track Lighting

Smart for a variety of spaces and functions, track lighting is highly versatile as you can adjust the direction of the heads to spotlight artwork or illuminate an area of the room that needs more lighting. If you change your furnishing arrangement or decor, you can easily adjust your track lighting system to shine light in a new direction. Stylish track lighting can be used in a hallway to illuminate artwork, above a billiards table in the game room to shine a light on your game, or above a kitchen island to spotlight your food prep.

Recessed

If a single ceiling light doesn’t provide enough illumination for your space, consider installing recessed lighting. Tucked up into the ceiling, these lights, which come in an array of diameters, have a minimalist look, and you can cluster several in a room to get maximum lighting. They also work great in basements or hallways, where you may not have the headspace for a hanging fixture. In this case, the emphasis is less on the fixture itself and more about the dramatic effect it produces.

Cool Wall Lighting Ideas

Sconces

Sconces are typically installed in multiples and provide excellent accent lighting to a space. You can use them to light your way in a dark hallway. Or, install them around your bathroom vanity or flanking your bed instead of table lamps on nightstands. And sconces are great for small rooms, so you don’t waste valuable space with a table or floor lamp.

Cool Surface Lighting Ideas

A light strip applied under kitchen cabinetry
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Light Strips

Ambient lighting has come a long way, evolving to fun applications like LED strips. And with smart technology, you can control these light strips with an app or even your voice. Radiant shelving can showcase your collection of books or art. Lining a bar with ambient light strips can add a romantic vibe. For kitchen cabinetry lighting, apply LED light strips under cabinets or in glass-encased cabinets to add a layer of subdued and indirect light. And by lining your staircase with light strips, you can create a safe walkway and glowing effect at night without turning on harsh overhead lighting.

Backlit LED Panels

Recent advancements with LED lighting have led to flexible lighting panels, which illuminate semi-transparent stone like onyx or quartz. These panels are installed underneath bar tops or kitchen countertops and can even be applied to walls, backsplashes, and fireplaces to cast a luminescent glow.

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