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How to Light an Open Plan Room: 2023’s Ultimate Guide

how to light an open plan room

Navigating the complexities of lighting an open-plan room can be a daunting task. This article delves into the intricacies of creating the perfect ambiance for such spaces, ensuring both functionality and aesthetic appeal. From the significance of task lighting in kitchens to the art of layering different light sources, readers will gain insights into effectively illuminating multifunctional areas. Whether you’re grappling with the challenges of dark spaces or seeking innovative lighting ideas, this comprehensive guide promises to answer your questions and offer solutions.

The Importance of Task Lighting

Task lighting, as the name suggests, is designed to aid specific tasks, especially in areas where focused lighting is essential. One of the most significant areas in an open-plan room that requires task lighting is the kitchen. Here’s a comprehensive look at the importance of task lighting in open-plan rooms:

  1. Purpose of Task Lighting:
    • Task lighting, especially with led lights, is not just about increasing illuminance. The primary purpose, especially in office settings, is to improve contrast. While general lighting can be reduced, task lighting provides focused light where needed, ensuring that specific tasks are carried out efficiently and safely.
    • In an open-plan room, especially in the kitchen, task lighting ensures that work surfaces are well-lit. This is crucial for activities like cooking, where precision and safety are paramount.
  2. Strategies for Task Lighting:
    • Localized Average Lighting: This approach involves a lamp or track lighting that supplies both ambient and task light. For instance, an uplighter with a light source directed downward can be mounted directly over the workspace.
    • Freely Adjustable Task Lights: These are fixtures like gooseneck lamps or swing-arm light fixtures that can be adjusted to focus light on the exact task needed.
    • Asymmetric Task Lighting: Asymmetric Task Lighting, often using led profiles, is placed at the side of the work area, directing light obliquely over the desk.
  3. Importance in Open-Plan Rooms:
    • Open-plan rooms, especially those that combine living and kitchen spaces, can benefit from task lighting, including linear lighting. For instance, under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen ensures that countertops are adequately illuminated, preventing shadows that can interfere with tasks like chopping.
    • Task lighting, such as led strip lights, can also prevent contrast reduction, where a poorly placed light source reduces the contrast, making tasks like reading difficult.
  4. Relevant Data and Statistics:
    • According to a study from the U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, for older persons, increased lighting and contrast are essential aids for performing daily tasks.

Creating Lighting Zones

Creating Lighting Zones with led panel lights, Open-plan spaces, especially those that combine the kitchen and living room, have become increasingly popular in modern homes. These spaces offer a seamless flow and a sense of unity, but they also present unique challenges when it comes to lighting. The key to effectively lighting an open-plan room lies in understanding the different activities that take place in each zone and providing appropriate lighting solutions for each.

1. The Importance of Lighting in Open-Plan Spaces

Open-plan spaces are often the busiest areas in a home. Over the past few years, they have become even busier, serving as multifunctional areas for cooking, dining, working, and relaxing. Given the variety of tasks that take place in these spaces, planning a lighting scheme can be challenging. However, with careful consideration and strategic placement, you can create a harmonious and functional lighting environment.

2. Kitchen vs. Living Room: Different Zones, Different Needs

The kitchen, being a workspace, requires task lighting. This ensures that work surfaces are well-lit, eliminating shadows that can hinder activities like cooking and chopping. A common mistake is placing lights in the ceiling space between the counter and an island unit, which illuminates the floor rather than the counter. Instead, lights should be positioned over the counter. Under-cabinet lighting is also beneficial, especially if you have overhead cabinets. Downlights, while sometimes controversial, work effectively in the kitchen. Alternatively, pendant lights over the island and under-cabinet lighting for other counters can serve the purpose.

The living room, on the other hand, is a relaxation zone. Here, the lighting should be warm and inviting. Floor lamps with warm bulbs can create a cozy ambiance, perfect for unwinding or entertaining guests.

3. Layers of Light, including led tube lights: Building Atmosphere

Lighting shouldn’t be one-dimensional. By layering different light sources, you can create varying atmospheres suitable for different times of the day or activities. Task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting can be combined to achieve this. For instance, pendant lights can add a decorative touch and help define zones within an open-plan space, such as over a dining table.

4. Quality Over Quantity

The quality of light fittings plays a crucial role in the overall ambiance. Warm light is preferable for residential interiors, with a recommended bulb value of between 2700-3000 Kelvin. Additionally, the color rendering of the bulb affects how natural the colors appear in your space. A bulb with a value between 90 and 100 is ideal for accurate color rendering.

how to light an open plan room
how to light an open plan room

Layers of Light in Open Plan Rooms

Layers of Light in Open Plan Rooms, including led strip lights for stairs, Open-plan spaces, especially those that combine the kitchen and dining areas, have become increasingly popular in modern homes. These spaces are often bustling hubs of activity, and as such, require a thoughtful approach to lighting. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to effectively light an open-plan room:

Task vs. Decorative Lighting

1. Task vs. Decorative Lighting, including led light strips for bedroom:

  • Kitchen Area: The kitchen is where task lighting is paramount. Ensure work surfaces are well-lit, and lights are positioned so you aren’t working in your shadow. Avoid placing lights between the counter and an island unit as this lights the floor and not the counter. Instead, position them over the counter. If you have overhead cabinets, invest in good under-cabinet lighting. Downlights work well in the kitchen, but if you prefer alternatives, consider pendant lights over your island unit and under-cabinet lighting for other surfaces
  • Decorative Lighting: This type of lighting adds an aesthetic appeal to your space. Pendant lights, for instance, can define different zones within an open-plan space, like over a dining table or island[^7^].

Spotlights vs. Ambient Lights

1. Spotlights vs. Ambient Lights, including spot lighting bar: Ideal for tasks, especially in the kitchen where focused lighting is needed.

2. Ambient Lights: Perfect for relaxation areas. Achieve a cozy ambiance with table and floor lamps or concealed lighting in joinery units.

Comprehensive Data and Statistics

  • Open-plan spaces have become busier in the last 18 months, making lighting schemes more challenging.
  • A common mistake in lighting is placing lights in the ceiling between the counter and an island unit, which lights the floor instead of the counter.
  • Consider the color temperature of your lights. For residential interiors, a warm light between 2700-3000 Kelvin is recommended.
  • Ensure accurate color rendering with bulbs having a value between 90 and 100.
how to light an open plan room
how to light an open plan room

Choosing Quality Light Fittings for an Open Plan Room

Open-plan spaces have become increasingly popular in modern homes, offering a seamless flow between different areas such as the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The right lighting can enhance the ambiance, functionality, and aesthetics of these spaces. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to choose quality light fittings for an open-plan room:

Warm vs. Cold Light

The temperature of the light plays a crucial role in setting the mood of a room. For residential interiors, warm light is often preferred as it creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere. A bulb with a value between 2700-3000 Kelvin is ideal for achieving a warm light. On the other hand, cold light can make a space feel more sterile and is more suited for commercial or office spaces.

Color Rendering of Bulbs

The color rendering index (CRI) of a bulb determines how accurately it represents colors. A bulb with a high CRI will ensure that the colors in your room appear true to life. Willie Duggan of Willie Duggan Lighting recommends choosing a bulb with a CRI value between 90 and 100 for accurate color rendering. Poor quality bulbs with a lower CRI can make vibrant colors appear flat, undermining the aesthetics of your interiors.

Key Considerations for Open Plan Lighting:

  1. Defining Zones with Lighting: Open-plan spaces often combine multiple functional areas, such as cooking, dining, and relaxation zones. Using different lighting styles can help demarcate these zones. For instance, pendant lights over a kitchen island can define the cooking area, while floor lamps can create a cozy corner for relaxation.
  2. Layering of Lights: Layering different light sources can create a dynamic and flexible lighting scheme. This involves combining task lighting (like under-cabinet lights in the kitchen), ambient lighting (like pendant lights), and accent lighting (like wall sconces or spotlights highlighting art pieces).
  3. Quality of Light Fittings: The choice of light fitting can significantly impact the quality of light. Ensure you choose high-quality fittings that offer the desired color temperature and CRI. Additionally, consider the positioning of the lights to avoid shadows, especially in task areas like the kitchen.
  4. Innovative Solutions for Dark Spaces: For spaces with limited natural light, consider innovations like warm dimming or dynamic white light. These solutions can mimic natural daylight, enhancing the ambiance of the room.
  5. Control with Dimmer Switches: Dimmer switches offer flexibility, allowing you to adjust the light intensity based on the time of day or activity. This is especially useful in open-plan spaces where multiple activities can take place.
how to light an open plan room
how to light an open plan room

Addressing Dark or North-Facing Spaces

Dark or north-facing spaces can be a challenge when it comes to lighting. These areas often lack the benefit of natural sunlight, making them appear gloomy and uninviting. However, with the right lighting techniques, it’s possible to transform these spaces into warm and welcoming environments.

Warm Dimming and Dynamic White Light

One of the most innovative solutions for spaces with limited natural light is the use of warm dimming and dynamic white light. These technologies mimic the natural progression of daylight, from the warm tones of sunrise and sunset to the cooler hues of midday. According to a study from the Journal of Lighting and Architecture, dynamic white lighting can significantly improve the mood and productivity of occupants in spaces with limited natural light. By adjusting the color temperature and intensity throughout the day, these lights can simulate the natural rhythm of daylight, enhancing the ambiance of the room.

how to light an open plan room
how to light an open plan room

Incorporating a Mix of Different Lights

Incorporating a mix of different lights in an open-plan room is essential for creating a space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Different types of lighting serve various purposes, such as task lighting for focused activities, ambient lighting for a general illumination, and accent lighting to highlight specific areas or objects. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to effectively mix different lights in an open-plan room:

1. Task Lighting in Kitchens:

  • Recessed Spotlights and Under-Cabinet Lighting: These are ideal for illuminating work surfaces, making cooking and preparing food easier. For instance, recessed spotlights can be strategically placed to ensure that all areas of the kitchen are well-lit (source).
  • Pendant Lights: Hanging pendant lights over kitchen islands or sinks can also provide focused lighting necessary for tasks such as chopping and washing.

2. Ambient Lighting in Dining Areas:

  • Pendant Lights, Wall Lights, and Lamps: These sources of light offer a softer glow, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Pendant lights can be hung over dining tables to act as a centerpiece, while wall lights can add a layer of ambient light around the room (source).
  • Dimmer Switches: Consider installing dimmer switches to control the level of ambient light, allowing for adjustments based on the time of day or occasion.

3. Creating Lighting Zones:

  • Define Areas with Lighting: Use lighting to define different zones within the open-plan space, such as the kitchen, dining, and living areas. Each zone should have its own lighting scheme to support its specific function.

Complementing Room Style with Light Fixtures

When it comes to lighting an open-plan room, the choice of light fixtures plays a pivotal role in complementing the overall style and décor of the space. The right lighting can enhance the ambiance, create a cohesive look, and even make the room appear more spacious and inviting. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to complement room style with light fixtures:

1. Understanding the Importance of Lighting in Open-Plan Spaces: Open-plan spaces, such as kitchen-diners or living areas, are multifunctional areas that require careful consideration when it comes to lighting. The right lighting can help define different zones, create a harmonious flow between areas, and enhance the overall aesthetics of the space. The importance of layering light and using different light sources to achieve a balanced and flexible lighting scheme.

2. Modern vs. Traditional Styles: The choice between modern and traditional styles often depends on the existing décor of the room. For a modern, minimalist look, sleek pendant lights and recessed spotlights are ideal. On the other hand, traditional spaces might benefit from rustic ceiling lights and decorative wall lights. It’s essential to choose light fixtures that complement the overall look of the space.

Innovative Lighting Ideas for Open-Plan Spaces

Open-plan spaces, which combine multiple functional areas into one large room, have become increasingly popular in modern homes. These spaces often merge the kitchen, dining, and living areas, creating a unified and fluid environment. However, lighting such spaces can be challenging due to their multifunctional nature. Here’s a comprehensive guide on innovative lighting ideas for open-plan rooms, drawing insights from various expert sources:

Curved Floor Lamps and Ambient Downlights

  1. Dimension and Depth: Open-plan areas can often feel vast and impersonal. Using curved floor lamps can add an extra dimension, breaking the monotony and adding a focal point. These lamps not only illuminate but also act as statement pieces, enhancing the aesthetics of the room. Ambient downlights, on the other hand, offer a soft glow, framing specific areas and making them cozy and inviting. Curved floor lamps span different living spaces, adding an extra dimension, while ambient downlights can frame spaces like dining tables.
  2. Task vs. Ambient Lighting: The kitchen, being a workspace, requires bright and focused task lighting. Recessed ceiling spotlights and under-cabinet lighting are ideal for this purpose. In contrast, the living or dining area, meant for relaxation, benefits from ambient lighting. Floor lamps with warm bulbs or pendant lights can set the right mood.

Linking Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

  1. Harmonious Flow: To create a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces, use similar lighting styles and warmth levels. For instance, festoon lighting outdoors with a warmth similar to indoor lighting can emphasize a continuous flow, as suggested by Lightsupplier.
  2. Accentuating Features: Accent lighting, such as picture lights or floor lamps, can draw attention to specific features like artwork, alcoves, or fireplaces. They add depth and character to open spaces, making them feel more intimate.

Additional Insights:

  • Zoning with Lighting: Different zones within an open-plan space can be defined using distinct lighting styles. For instance, pendant lights over a kitchen island can demarcate the cooking zone, while a chandelier over the dining table can define the dining area.
  • Quality Matters: The choice of light fixtures significantly impacts the ambiance. Opt for good quality fittings that offer warm light for residential interiors. Ensure consistent color temperatures across different light sources to maintain harmony.
  • Innovative Solutions for Dark Spaces: For spaces that lack natural light, innovations like warm dimming or dynamic white light can mimic natural daylight, making the space feel brighter and more welcoming.
  • Control with Dimmers: Dimmer switches offer flexibility, allowing you to adjust the lighting intensity based on the activity or time of day. They’re especially useful in multifunctional open-plan spaces.

The Role of Accent Lighting

Using lighting to highlight specific features or areas is an art that can transform the ambiance of a room. Accent lighting plays a pivotal role in open-plan rooms, where the challenge is to create a cohesive yet distinct feel for different zones within the same space.

Showcasing Artwork and Alcoves

When it comes to showcasing artwork and alcoves, accent lighting can be a game-changer. Picture lights, floor lamps, and sconces can be strategically placed to emphasize specific artworks, architectural features, or other decorative elements in the space. For instance, the Freckles Tall Wall Light is an exemplary piece that adds warmth and ambiance while highlighting an area.

  1. Layering Different Types of Lighting: Solely relying on overhead lighting can make a space feel flat and uninviting. It’s crucial to incorporate various lighting types, such as accent and task lighting, to add depth and dimension. For instance, the TR Bulb collection can be used to layer lighting in an open-plan area, combining pendant lights for the kitchen or dining area with floor lamps for ambient lighting.
  2. Color Temperature Matters: The mood and feel of a space can be significantly influenced by the color temperature of the light. A cooler color temperature might create a more sterile environment, while a warmer one can offer a cozier and more inviting atmosphere.
  3. Functionality is Key: Different zones in an open-plan space might require varied lighting types. For instance, a dining area might benefit from a statement pendant light, while a lounge area might need softer ambient lighting.
  4. Dimmer Switches for Versatility: Dimmer switches allow for adjusting light levels, offering a more versatile lighting scheme that can be changed according to the mood or occasion.
  5. Task Lighting: Essential for specific tasks like cooking or reading, task lighting should be strategically placed to avoid casting shadows over working areas.
  6. Balancing Natural and Artificial Light: Natural light can enhance the beauty of an open-plan living area. However, it’s essential to balance it with artificial light sources to ensure consistent lighting throughout the day and night.

Lighting plays a pivotal role in enhancing the ambiance and functionality of open-plan rooms. By understanding the nuances of task, ambient, and accent lighting, homeowners can create a harmonious and inviting space. This article has provided a roadmap for those looking to strike the perfect balance between aesthetics and practicality in their open-plan areas. With the right lighting techniques and strategies, any open-plan room can be transformed into a warm, welcoming, and beautifully illuminated space.


  1. How do you light an open concept room?
    • Use a combination of recessed, linear, and flush mount fixtures for ambient lighting. Direct task lighting onto countertops, islands, and other work areas. Consider the flow from room to room when placing lights.
  2. How to decorate a room with no overhead lighting?
    • Utilize floor lamps, table lamps, and wall-mounted lights to create layers of illumination. Consider using pendant lights as an eye-catching focal point in specific areas.
  3. How do I choose a timeless light fixture?
    • Opt for fixtures that blend well with the overall decor of the room. Mixing materials like glass, linen shades, and metal can create a balanced and timeless look.
  4. How do you light an entryway?
    • Ensure adequate ambient lighting for safety and visibility. Consider using a statement chandelier or pendant light as a welcoming focal point. Task lighting can be added for specific areas like coat racks or shoe storage.

More Article About Open Plan Room Ligthing


About Gilbert

Our email: [email protected] Dear readers of Kosoom.uk! I am delighted to introduce myself as Gilbert, your dedicated source of enlightenment when it comes to LED lights. If you have questions about any LED lights, please feel free to contact us to our email: [email protected] We will give you a satisfactory answer as soon as possible. Hailing from the heart of England, I bring to you a wealth of professional expertise and a passion for all things LED. As an Englishman with a fervent interest in illumination technology, I have made it my mission to illuminate the path to understanding LED lights, tailored especially for the inquisitive minds of Britain. With a background steeped in the intricacies of LED technology, I stand ready to shed light on every facet of this brilliant innovation. Through my articles, I intend to guide you through the captivating world of LED lights, providing you with insights that not only unravel the science behind these luminous marvels but also highlight their practical applications and benefits in the UK context. In collaboration with Kosoom, I embark on this journey to demystify LED lights for you. Whether you're curious about the evolution of LED technology, eager to decipher the nuances of LED color temperatures, or seeking advice on optimizing lighting choices for your home, workplace, or public spaces, I am your trusted companion. My articles will offer you clear, concise, and expertly-crafted explanations that bridge the gap between complex technical jargon and approachable, relatable understanding. Stay tuned for a series of articles that will not only elevate your understanding but also brighten up your perspectives on the art and science of lighting.

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