Sometimes we have to make the most of the spaces we have… Especially if the budget for any renovation work is limited and therefore may mean making the most out of a small room. There is normally at least one or two rooms in a home that is smaller than the others and it can be a tricky space to decorate and furnish, purely out of fear of making it feel even smaller than it actually is!

This is where good lighting comes in.

Lighting can make a HUGE difference in small spaces, and this shouldn’t be ignored if you are struggling with a small room in your home right now. Many of my clients’ most feared rooms in an interior design project are the smallest! So today I want to share with you my top recommendations on how to light your small rooms correctly so they feel more inviting and ultimately, bigger.

Are you ready to explore some lighting ideas for small spaces?


Style of Lighting

There are a few different styles of lighting that you should avoid in small rooms as they can make the space feel even smaller.

The first style that I always avoid in my client’s rooms are large ceiling fixtures that are wide and have a shade surrounding it because this can cause unsightly shadows. Light fixtures with shades surrounding them often filter light through the bottom of the fixture rather than outwards. Therefore this can cause small rooms to appear darker if there aren’t other light fixtures to supplement this.

The most important thing to remember when considering light fixtures for a small room is that you want the light to bounce all around the room, and not necessarily be fixated on any one area (unless you need specific task lighting – read on to find out more on this).

So instead of looking for closed ceiling light fixtures, consider those that are encased in glass, metal cage design or those with multiple arms and lights off the main ceiling point. As a general rule of thumb, if your room is 10 feet x 10 feet, you should look for light fixtures that are about 20 inches wide.


For this small bedroom design, we used a central ceiling fan with a light kit as the general light and supplemented this with wall sconces for bedside lighting and a medium-sized table lamp for styling the dresser.


Amount of Lighting


Many people assume that the more or brighter the light fixtures they add to a small room the better! However this isn’t always the case… 

You should consider the room’s function – what do you use the space for? (Explore the next section for more details) And curate the lighting in the room for that purpose.

Should your small room be a multi-purpose space, make allowances for each activity. For example, if your small room doubles as a guest bedroom and home office, one central ceiling fixture will provide good general lighting, while table lamps can supplement this on nightstands and a desk lamp for the office corner.


The Space’s Function


An important aspect to consider when lighting a smaller space is to consider which tasks occur in the space.

Is this a craft room that requires close up or directional lighting? Are you reading here often? Is the space being used as a home office, bedroom or small playroom for the kids? Perhaps a combination of these things?

Examine what you use the room for and ensure to provide good and appropriate lighting based on the task at hand… Table and floor lamps are great for illuminating a small localized area of a room and can double up as task lighting. For more intricate crafts you should consider directional desk lamps.

Another good example here is a bathroom. Perhaps a small bathroom or powder room… You’ll want to light the whole space with a flush mount ceiling fixture and supplement this with wall sconces on either side of the vanity mirror. Using two different types of light fixtures here allows the person using the bathroom to choose which level of lighting they require.


In this small kitchen, recessed lighting has been used for the main lights and this is supplemented with under cabinet lighting and pendants above the peninsula.


Lighting Layers


I always recommend looking at lighting in terms of layers. These include general lighting, ambient lighting and task lights. All of these layers should be considered even for small rooms. The layering of lighting helps the room to feel well put together and well lit for different scenarios.

The general lighting will include one or more fixtures that illuminate the whole space adequately. This is through the main ceiling light.

Ambient lighting tends to be fixtures that supplement this. This could include recessed lighting around the perimeter of the room, wall sconces or picture lights.

Lastly, you’ll want to include any task lighting like floor or table lamps that will help you to perform different tasks like reading, crafts, etc.


Above all, you should design the lighting plan based on the task at hand. What do you use the space for? And start exploring the options based on this.

Have you recently installed new lighting for a small space in your home? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below! And if you’re struggling to nail down the lighting for your home – contact me today for a consultation!