Ready for Your Big Closet Reveal? Illuminate Your Space With These Lighting Ideas First

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated January 13, 2022
A luxurious bedroom with a walk-in closet
Photo: imaginima / E+ / Getty Images

Step out of the shadows and into your favorite outfit with these clever closet lighting ideas

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Our morning trip to the closet has the power to set a good day in motion with the flip of a switch. Proper lighting in your closet can determine whether you spot your favorite red sweater or that pair of pumps that will make you feel motivated to take on a difficult meeting. 

But lighting in these spaces can be tricky, especially if the area doesn't easily link to your home wiring. We've gathered up everything from glam-style dream closets to diminutive spaces that all benefit from a bit of thoughtful closet lighting. And whether your installations are DIY-friendly or require the help of a local lighting installation expert, these designs will shed some light on the best pick for your unique space.

1. Line Your Shelves With Brilliant Bulbs

Shelves of a closet with a line of bulbs
Photo: Courtesy of Taste of Koko

Jane Ko of a Taste of Koko stylishly opted for LED strip lights to finish off her extensive closet redesign. These intentionally placed strips of bright-white bulbs highlight individual areas of her closet, from her favorite handbags to her go-to tops and dresses. Strip bulbs typically run on battery power and require very little energy, prolonging their life without replacement.

2. Explore Your LED Panel Possibilities

A wooden wardrobe with LED panels
Photo: snorkulencija / Adobe Stock

The versatility of LED lighting makes it an ideal choice for closets with hard-to-reach areas that cast heavy shadows from the overhead ceiling lights. Square, rectangular, or circular LED panels can fit snugly beneath your modular closet. Many options run on rechargeable batteries, and some even feature movement-triggered sensors. Secure the panel with the attached hardware or an adhesive strip.

3. Add Recessed Lights to Display Your Favorites

Recessed lights displaying a closet’s favorites
Photo: Courtesy of Organized Design

The pro home organizers at Organized Design, Krystal Thompson and Christina Milligan, encourage their clients to show off their most beloved accessories, especially your best handbags that tend to get stored out of sight. Add a single recessed light to the ceiling of your closer or modular unit, particularly above a glass display that can reflect the light and reach each shelf below.

4. Balance the Mood With Pockets of Light

A moody closet with pockets of light
Photo: Forenius / Adobe Stock

Ambient lighting has the power to set the tone of a room, and this extends to the fashion hub of your home. Illuminate the area just above your hanging bars but keep the light in the rest of the closet low for a dramatic spotlight effect. For maximum flexibility, keep overhead lights on a dimmer to control the overall vibe and brighten the room when necessary.

5. Opt for a Sconce to Showcase Your Reflection

A metallic sconce above a mirror
Photo: Courtesy of Laura Hamburg

Challenged to design a his-and-hers walk-in closet, Laura Hamburg of Willow Street Interiors created a designated space for viewing your outfit before heading out the door. The metallic sconce above the mirror ensures proper pampering light while reflecting on the mirror and its gold trim. The paint color—Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore—pairs perfectly with the natural accents.

6. Consider Color Temperature to Create a Mood

A closet with fashion dresses with higher temperature LEDs
Photo: Taras / Adobe Stock

Be sure to check out the color temperature rating on your bulbs, especially when choosing LEDs for your closet. The higher the Kelvin—or K rating—the brighter the white hue. For glitzy closets like this one, a number from 5000-6550K fills the room with a splash of light similar to a high-end boutique.

7. Complement Fine Finishes With Subtle Touches

An empty walk-in closet with a hanging chandelier
Photo: Courtesy of Katie McAllister

Chandeliers are the fixture of choice in many of today's dream closets, but it's critical to choose the style that complements the space before adding your clothing and accessories. Susquehanna Closet and Garage Design's Katie McAllister sheds light on the design, "This small chandelier adds luxury to the space and coordinates well with the matte gold finish in the handles and closet rod."

8. Embrace Your Inner Glam

A beige luxury dressing room with a crystal chandelier
Photo: Michael / Adobe Stock

You can still lean into the minimalist mantra of "less is more" while still adding a touch of glamour. Create that signature luxe look with multiple light sources—recessed lighting on the ceiling, a reflective hanging future, and target LEDs within your shelves. Keep cabinets organized and clutter-free to discourage shadows.

9. Welcome Natural Light

A white wardrobe with natural light coming in from the window
Photo: bennnn / Adobe Stock

If you're transforming a small room into your closet space, embrace the natural light alternative as much as possible. Clothing color is best defined in natural light, not to mention the burst of sunshine to start your morning when picking out your work outfit. Opt for window treatments that still let in the light and do not filter its color temperature.

10. Add a Sensor Light for Daily Ease

 A modern walk-in closet with a light sensor
Photo: Mariakray / Adobe Stock

Sensor lights are ideal for closet spaces, whether you have a large walk-in layout or a more intimate space. While we commonly associate motion lights with your backyard, they can keep high-use areas like the closet safer and easier to access. Consider sensor lights for your pantry and nursery closet as well. However, you may need to hire a licensed electrician near you if your upgrades require hardwiring or additional electrical work.

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