How do I make my home's lighting more modern? 10 creative ideas from inspiring designers

For a contemporary take on lighting your home, look at creative ways to install fixtures, along with out-of-the-box designs

A living room with a long floor lamp
(Image credit: Ater Architects. Photo credit Alexey Yanchenkov)

Lighting isn't only about choosing lamps, chandeliers, and pendants around in a room – to give your home's lighting a more modern look, consider the type of pieces you use, their design, the way you position them, and how they affect the overall look of the space.

Think of your lights as an important element in your home decor scheme, whether you're looking for table and floor lamps as living room lighting, or more architectural ideas for a kitchen. Your interiors can gain a lot from natural light supplemented with artful pendants, ornate chandeliers, and custom pieces that have a statement-making quality to them. Use these to create different moods, settings, interior design styles, and aesthetics.

If you're ready to be illuminated with fresh, unique, and unconventional interior design ideas, then read on. Here's 10 ideas for modernizing your home from our favorite interior designer schemes. 

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi is a homes writer and editor with several years of experience. Her articles, backed by expert insights, offer suggestions aimed at helping readers make the best home design choices. For this article, she spoke to top interior designers and industry experts to find out the best way to modernize a home using lights. 

1. Liven up corners with a statement lighting piece

A living room corner with a floor lamp designed like a face

(Image credit: Anna Karlin Studio)

Shed some light in living room corners or bedroom nooks with eye-catching illuminators, creating a wonderful vignette. Consider floor lamps that imitate sculptures or artworks for that extra pizazz. Choose LED lights that will last longer and cast a well-balanced gleam. 

'This floor-to-ceiling light sculpture traces the profile of a face in tubular steel, with a rich bronze patina,' says Anna Karlin, founder of Anna Karlin Studio. 'A soft glow from within the eye gives the piece life.' 

How to get the look on a budget
Walarky Neon Sign Face LED Light, from Amazon

Walarky Neon Sign Face LED Light, from Amazon

This neon art light is a great way to accentuate the desk or a corner in the living room, home office or even a kid's room. The piece is made of flexible LED strip lights and an acrylic back plate.

2. Illuminate seating nooks with whimsical wall lamps

a built in seat with a decorative light above

(Image credit: LALA Reimagined)

When it comes to reading corners or window seats, think of creating a jewel box effect with lampshades that look artistic and offer a soft glow. Choose hand-painted or printed designsthat add a whimsical effect to the area. 

'This bespoke sconce is designed by Annalisa Fallasco of Luci de Seta, a Venice-based workshop that specializes in handcrafted lamp shades,' says Lia McNairy, co-founder of LALA Reimagined. 'We love how the soft light highlights the gold dragonfly, making it look like a piece of jewelry as it becomes the room's focal point. We are not fans of overhead lighting so sourcing the right light fixtures for a room is at the top of our list, and sconces are a great way to elevate a room and create the perfect mood lighting we all deserve in our spaces at the end of a long day.'

3. Give a modern edge to your bedroom

A bedroom with lamps on either sides of the bed

(Image credit: Rohit Bhoite Design)

Consider unconventional bedroom lighting ideas to give this very special space a unique personality. Think of how differently you can approach bedside lamps that not only function as reading lights but create a phased glow over the area, creating a moody interior. 

'This room has a beautiful choice of natural hues of deep and tan browns, greens, and a grey concrete wall giving the room an industrial look,' says interior designer Rohit Bhoite. ' The metal lights go well with the theme, and create textures and shadows on the wall.'

4. Illuminate a dark room with skylight-mimicking lights

A living room's artificial skylight

(Image credit: Light Cognitive)

Sometimes city apartments can get a little dingy and dark, especially during those long rainy or snow days when the sun discreetly hides behind the grey skies. Enter artificial skylights, such as the Oculus (above), that mimic natural light entering overhead. These can be part of your living room, bathroom, or even kitchen lighting ideas – all those spaces that serve practical purposes and require soft illumination at all times. 

'The Oculus can change a space dramatically as it transforms windowless spaces, basements, or inner parts of the building with a gentle glow,' says Sami Salomaa, founder of Light Cognitive. 'The light is adjustable and diffused, and has no glare which makes it very pleasant to view. Many people choose to have it installed in the kitchen for early hour coffees, or placed in the study, over a stairway, or in a yoga room. The fixture mimics the sun, and makes the interior feel bigger and less confined.'

5. Cove lighting can add layering to interiors

A living room with cove lighting inside the walls

(Image credit: MKCA. Photo credit Max Burkhalter)

Architectural, in-built wall lights are a unique and interesting new way to illuminate a room, driving away focus from one lighting source and throwing general illumination in the room, creating a cozy living room or bedroom. Plus these lights can also help highlight an architectural feature. 

'Across the residence, our architectural and interior interventions point back to the project’s original motivation: to transform the space into a fluid, elegant modern home while also making daring architectural and aesthetic choices,' says Michael K Chen, principal of Michael K Chen Architecture. 'Throughout the living room, Christopher Kurtz's custom carved wood sconces are enveloped within the thickened wall around the fireplace and glow gently through an integrated LED array.' 

6. Use lights that double as art pieces

A living room with a wall sconce designed as roses

(Image credit: Doshi Levien)

What if we told you that your bedroom, bathroom, or living room wall decor could serve more purposes than one? Decorative wall-mounted lights have changed the way we design spaces, adding a new dimension to a room. 

Think of where you are going to place it for maximum benefit and optics. Perhaps behind a sofa to double as a wall sculpture, or above a fireplace to highlight and reinforce the room's focal point. A beautifully decorative lighting piece will help bind your decor together, so consider the style of your room before choosing your lighting to ensure you create a harmonious feel and look.

7. Add illuminated decor outdoors

A balcony area with back-lit furniture

(Image credit: Karan Desai Architecture + Design. Photo credit Avesh Gaur)

Whether it's a backyard or a balcony, lighting the outside of your home is just as important as indoors. While picking modern outdoor furniture pieces to add some eclectic and personal touches to your balcony or garden, go for ones that are illuminated to give the space a vibrant and eye-catching appeal.

From fluorescent tables, and backlit onyx stools to illuminated bubble chairs, there's plenty to choose from. Set these tables to your preferred static color to create the desired look.

8. Embrace backlit panels

A living room with a backlit wall panel

(Image credit: Studio Rik ten Velden)

Think out of the box when it comes to modern lighting. Sisu, designed by Studio Rik ten Velden is an interesting way to add both light and wall art to a space, whether for living room or bedroom wall decor ideas.

'Sisu is not only a lamp, it is a sculpture, a mirror, a light, and a decoration, that brings fluidity and elegance together,' says Rik ten Velden, founder of Studio Rik ten Velden. 'The innovation of the lamp is in its efficiency of the creation process. Cast resin frames are created in molds that can be used endless times saving on energy and waste. By using multiple Sisu sculptures, you can create an installation, a playful composition.'  

9. Use bold designs to center a room 

A living room with a long floor lamp

(Image credit: Ater Architects. Photo credit Alexey Yanchenkov)

When you think of targeted, focused lighting, chances are you'll think of spotlights. But where's the fun in that? Consider the interesting living room or kitchen wall lighting ideas, like a long wall lamp with arms that extend into different areas of a room, offering flexible yet focused lighting to specific areas. 

Plus, when not in use, it can fold up and serve as a wall sconce, adding to the room's ambiance. 'The living room is an area for communication; at the request of the clients, neither television nor projector was provided,' say Alexander Ivasiv and Yuliya Tkachenko, founders, ater. architects.  'As an essential lighting element, the iconic Flos 265 was used here.' 

Get the look
Mid-Century Chrome Bulb Wall Lamp on 1st Dibs

Mid-Century Chrome Bulb Wall Lamp on 1st Dibs

This mid-century wall lamp with long, adjustable swing arms is an eye-catching piece that can be installed in any room and any decor scheme. 

10. Highlight the height of a room with long pendants

A dining room with long pendant lights

(Image credit: Arjun Rathi Design. FADD Studio. Photo credit Fabien Charuau)

The interesting thing about picking out designer lights is that they not only light up a dark room, and add a decorative touch but also help accentuate the architectural value of the house, and in double or triple volume spaces, pronounce the height of the room.

Read: long pendants. These cascading pieces add character to the upper half of a room that usually gets left out as all the design work goes on, in the bottom half. This dining room lighting piece designed by Arjun Rathi Design for FADD Studio creates a mesmeric atmosphere, adding sleek lines to the room's elegant aesthetic while encouraging the eyes to look up. 

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.