Lighting Design Secrets: Accent Lighting Can Add Pizzazz to Your Home

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While ambient lighting and task lighting are primarily functional (e.g., does the room have enough general light to see by? Is there enough light to perform a particular task?), accent lighting is all about improving your home’s décor while reinforcing your design aesthetic.

Need inspiration for adding that extra little something-something that will make your room design pop? Check out our favorite accent lighting techniques below.


A bathroom featuring two types of accent lighting: cove lighting and lighting under the vanity. The other layers of light include edge lit mirrors, recessed lighting over the vanity, and a pendant over the tub.


Highlight Architectural Details

Architectural details include those flourishes in your room’s design that often only you know about. Why not share them with the world? Lighting up specific areas can help you do exactly that.


Ceiling Coves.

Lighting a ceiling cove brings the eye upward, accenting the visually interesting ceiling plane and framing the space. (Bonus: It also adds a nice, soft layer of ambient light to the room.)

Linear LED lighting is our favorite way to light ceiling coves for the following reasons:

  • It’s small in scale. It can fit into tight places so that you just see the light, not the fixture.
  • It’s energy efficient. And who doesn’t love saving energy and money to boot?
  • It’s long lasting and low maintenance. Simply turn on and enjoy!


Toe Kick Lighting.

Lighting a toe kick can make a cabinet or vanity feel like it’s floating above the floor, adding a little extra wow factor. Linear LED lighting is our favorite way to light toe kicks for the same reasons it’s our go-to for ceiling coves.

As an added bonus, toe-kick lighting can serve as a great night-light. For example, a lit toe kick that traces its way around your lower kitchen cabinets and island can give you just the right amount of light to navigate the kitchen when you’re making a late-night visit to the fridge.


Toe kick lighting in this kitchen adds an extra element of visual interest as well as a convenient nightlight at night.


Wall Grazing. To graze a wall, place light fixtures up against the wall. You can light the wall up or down, bringing out the unique texture of the tile, brick, stone, or other materials.

Note: This technique works equally well indoors and out, whether it’s highlighting an accent wall in a powder room or a stone wall on the patio.

Grazing Exterior Stone WallGrazing in Bath Application


Highlight Décor Elements

Think of the items in your home that are uniquely yours: paintings, sculptures, even that rare book collection in the den. Highlight these special things while adding overall visual interest to the space.


Art Lighting.

Adding even just a little light on paintings, photos, or sculptures calls attention to them and brings out colors and details people might not otherwise notice.

The type of light fixture you use can be decorative, like a traditional picture light, or it can be subtle, like recessed lighting to keep all the focus on the artwork. Be sure to check out our earlier post on art lighting for more recommendations and ideas.


Shelf and In-cabinet Lighting.

Lighting shelves or glass-front cabinets will call attention to their contents and add another layer of interest to the room.

For solid shelves, try an LED strip light on the underside of each shelf to illuminate the objects. This works especially well for wood shelves that you can recess the strip light into.

For cabinets with glass shelves, try a small LED recessed light or puck light mounted in the top of the cabinet and point it downwards. This adds an extra bit of sparkle as the light shines through each shelf and reflects off the objects on them.


Kitchen In-cabinet Lighting


Looking for more ways to bring accent lighting into your home? We’d love to help. Set up an appointment with one of our lighting specialists in Waltham.


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