5 unexpected spots interior designers will put lighting that will make any room feel more expensive

There are some places in the home where lighting is the obvious answer, but have you considered these five less conventional spots?

A kitchen island lit with a table lamp
(Image credit: Tom Ferguson Photography. Design: Luke Moloney Architecture)

Lighting is an essential component for your interiors to really come together. It's the final touch that can lift a space and create an atmosphere. But aside from the obvious spots in the home, there are a few lesser-known locations where lighting can also add something special.

‘I firmly believe that lighting is a crucial aspect of any home’s design’ says Charu Gandhi, founder and director of global interior design firm, Elicyon. ‘While many homeowners are aware of the difference good lighting design can make in key areas, like the living room and bedroom, there are several other places where lighting can make a real impact in a space, that are so often overlooked or not even considered.'

So if it's not the obvious living room lighting spots, where are these lesser-known locations? We speak to designers to find out the lighting destinations you might not have thought of in your home.

1. Inside closets

A well lit wardrobe and dressing room area

(Image credit: a-100 Mitchell + Corti Architects)

Often, closets and wardrobes are neglected when it comes to bedroom lighting, but with the correct lighting, these spaces will transform in terms of their functionality and aesthetic. It might not be so practical having a plug-in mini table lamp in your wardrobe, so how do you go about lighting these spaces?

'Installing strip lighting or spotlights inside closets on automatic sensors ensures that you can easily see and access your clothes and belongings, making your daily routine more efficient and enjoyable,' says Charu Gandhi, founder of Elicyon.

It's also always beneficial to think about the color temperature of the lighting, especially within dressing zones and rooms. 'Are you dressing for an evening occasion where the color temperature is likely to be warmer or a daytime event, where the lighting is natural and therefore cooler? Having the ability within your dressing room to tune the lighting temperature to suit gives you a truer sense of how you will be seen.'

2. Awkward corners

A well-lit corner of a living room

(Image credit: Julia Chesky. Design: Lee Broom)

Don't forget those awkward corners that need some love. Corner lighting is just as important to consider when creating a layered lighting scheme, as it is a functional feature that also provides decorative impact, says designer furniture and lighting designer Lee Broom. 'I consider lighting to be an art, and believe it should be used to enhance a space the way that a painting or sculpture might do, as well as for its practical use,' Lee explains. 'Particularly in large rooms, corner lighting can completely transform the atmosphere of a space thanks to both the light it produces and its eye-catching design.'

'In one corner of the living room in my New York penthouse, I’ve hung Requiem, a light from my latest collection,' the designer says. 'It transforms an otherwise empty and unassuming living room corner into an eye-catching focal point, and the sculptural nature of the light generates a real conversation piece.'

3. Crown moldings and baseboards 

a green bedroom with lighting in the wall moldings

(Image credit: Orac Decor)

Often overlooked, architectural features like crown moldings, baseboards and trims are a great place to add lighting to highlight the space and the footprint of a room. 

Go for LED lighting where the floor meets the wall with LED strips or solid aluminum bars. LED strips have adhesive on the back so you can stick them directly on the wall. You also have the option to either light the bottom of the skirting, which projects the lighting outwards onto the floor, or upwards, which gives the lower wall a nice wash of lighting. 

This gives a modern look to your home, and it's a great way to install LED strip lighting without seeing it when the lighting is turned off.

If desired, you could also use a motion sensor so you don't need to worry about turning them on and off or scrabbling to find the light switch in the middle of the night. 'We lit a ‘family’ corridor between parents' bedrooms and children in our Dubai penthouse project,' says Charu. 'This connected the bedrooms so the kids could easily get to Mum and Dad without having to turn on all the lights at night.' 

4. Bathroom niches 

A well lit bathroom with niche lighting

(Image credit: Ollie Hammick. Design: Lior Brosh)

Many people neglect the importance of a layered lighting scheme in the bathroom, opting simply for one overhead lighting fixture or a series of spotlights. But given this is a space where you inspect your reflection, it plays a vital role in this room, helping you get ready for the day. Layered bathroom lighting is the way forward.

But lighting in a bathroom can be decorative, too. ‘Remember lighting shower niches or shelves too,’ says Grey Joyner of Grey Joyner Interiors. ‘This helps create a spa-like atmosphere and highlight decorative items.’ 

Opt for sensor lights and ensure the lighting is on an automatic/motion-censored setting, so it comes on at night, creating a soft wash of light when you pop to the loo.  'Warm is the optimum word for a cozy feel, as this isn't task lighting, so the color temperature doesn’t need to be cool. Very specific but oh so helpful,' says Charu.

5. Kitchen countertops

A kitchen island lit with a table lamp

(Image credit: Tom Ferguson Photography. Design: Luke Moloney Architecture)

If you've got a kitchen island, chances are it's the focal point of the room, so make sure it is well-lit to give it the attention it deserves. Pendant lighting from above is the more obvious way to light your island, but I think a kitchen island table lamp can go a long way. 'Placing a table lamp in the kitchen adds an instant cozy factor that's difficult to replicate,' says Well X Design's Lauren Sullivan

Bringing interest to the space, providing a centerpiece, and directing a pool of light directly onto your island surface can create a moment or vignette on your island. What's more, come evening time, the addition of a table lamp can transform your kitchen island to a cocktail bar.

In this example by Sydney and London-based Luke Moloney Architecture, the table lamp adds height to the island, marries the textures and colors seen throughout the room with a light white oak stem and cream shade, and creates a destination at the end of the island.

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.