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Smart Home Decor: How To Decorate With Accent Lighting?

Accent lighting can add style, drama, and visual interest to any room in your home. Unlike general lighting which illuminates an entire room, accent lighting is directed at specific areas or objects to highlight them. The strategic use of accent lighting draws attention to architectural details, artwork, furniture, and other decorative elements you want to showcase in a space.

Accent lighting serves both aesthetic and functional purposes in residential interiors. Visually, it adds depth, layers, and dimension to a room. Accent lighting develops a hierarchy of light, directing the eye to what is most important. Functionally, accent lighting provides task lighting and increases the usability of living spaces after dark. For example, accent lights over a kitchen counter make meal prep easier to see.

Decorate With Accent Lighting

Accent Wall Lighting

Accent wall lighting can add visual interest and dimension to any room. Wall sconces, picture lights, and wall-mounted reading lights are all creative ways to illuminate and accentuate specific areas or pieces of wall art.
  • One easy way to add accent lighting is with wall sconces. Sconces come in various shapes, sizes, and styles to match any decor. They work well flanking a sofa, above the bed, or on either side of artwork to draw the eye. Opt for sconces with adjustable arms to direct light where needed. Dimmer switches allow further control over ambiance.
  • Picture lights are specialized fixtures designed specifically for illuminating artwork. They distribute light evenly across a painting or print to allow details to be seen clearly. Picture lights come in plug-in or hardwired options. They usually use halogen or LED bulbs for bright, focused light. Position picture lights above eye level and make sure they extend beyond the edges of the frame.
  • For a reading nook or favorite chair, consider a wall-mounted reading light. Swing arm lamps allow light to be adjusted as needed. Or choose a fixed reading lamp to focus illumination right where wanted. Wall-mounted lights free up table space and make a stylish statement.

With the right fixtures, accent wall lighting can create depth, emphasize architectural details, highlight decorative pieces, and make any room more inviting. Get creative with wall sconces, picture lights, and reading lamps to add both form and function.

Under Cabinet Lighting

  • Under cabinet lighting is an often overlooked, but highly effective way to add accent lighting to a room. Installing LED strip lights or puck lights under cabinets and shelving is an easy DIY project that can make a kitchen, bathroom, or any other space feel brighter and more open.
  • LED strip lighting comes in self-adhesive rolls that can be trimmed to fit the exact length you need. They give off a bright, even glow perfect for task lighting. Choose color temperatures like cool white (6000K) for a clean modern look or warm white (3000K) for a cozier ambiance. Some strips even offer color-changing RGB options.
  • Puck lights are compact circular fixtures that fit neatly under cabinets to focus light right where you need it. Typically powered by LEDs, they give off focused beams of light ideal for highlighting workspaces or displays. Puck lights come in a range of lumen outputs to suit different spaces. Higher lumens (500+) work well for kitchen tasks while lower lumens (250 or less) are sufficient for display lighting.
  • Proper under-cabinet lighting illuminates countertops, provides visual interest, and opens up small spaces. Experiment with different types like strip lights, puck lights, or hardwired fixtures to see what works best for your unique needs and style.

Stair Lighting

Stairways are often overlooked when it comes to home lighting design. Yet they present a wonderful opportunity to add visual interest and accent lighting throughout the home. Utilizing LED lighting along stair risers or under stair treads can create a gorgeous glowing effect. For a more dramatic statement, install LED step lights to highlight and trace the path of the staircase.

  • LED step lights are available in a range of shapes, sizes, and designs to match your stairs and style. Small LED puck lights can be placed at the edge of each step to elegantly define the staircase. For a contemporary look, install linear LED lights under the stairs. Alternatively, miniature recessed stair lights can be used to subtly outline the stairs.
  • Railing lights are another excellent way to creatively illuminate a staircase. Stylish rail lighting provides both task lighting for safety and a decorative accent. Opt for sleek LED tape lighting or individual rail-mounted lights. Uplighting onto the wall behind the railing can also add intrigue.
  • When positioning and aiming stair lighting, consider mounting lights at an angle to wash the light across the stairs for better visibility and visual impact. Illuminating the underside of open-tread staircases also creates an atmosphere. Mix up lighting colors and placement patterns on long stairways for more interest.

Outdoor Accent Lighting

Outdoor spaces offer ample opportunities for creative accent lighting that can transform a patio, garden, or entryway. One popular outdoor accent lighting technique is uplighting. Uplighting involves positioning light fixtures on the ground and aiming the light upwards. Uplighting outdoor trees or architectural elements like columns creates dramatic effects.

  • For trees, uplights with wide flood beams work best. Place the uplights a few feet away to graze the tree trunk and branches with light. Go for white or blue hues rather than yellow tones for a more natural moonlight effect.
  • Pathway lighting is another way to creatively illuminate outdoor areas. Install low-voltage fixtures along garden pathways, lining a driveway, or lighting up steps and walkways. Path lights with narrow beams provide a welcoming glow to guide visitors.
  • Wall-mounted fixtures can also serve as unique accents outdoors. Try sconces, lanterns, or other wall lights with downlighting or uplighting effects. Position them along the exterior of your home or fences and walls to add pools of light. Go for fixtures with natural, organic shapes rather than overly ornate traditional designs.
  • When selecting outdoor accent lighting, choose fixtures rated for exterior use that are weather-resistant. Opt for energy-efficient LED bulbs to save on long-term costs. With the right placement and fixtures, creative outdoor accent lighting can extend the beauty of your home's exterior after sunset.

Bedroom Accent Lighting

Your bedroom should be a relaxing and comforting space, and mood lighting can help set the tone. Accent lighting in the bedroom can create ambiance, highlight architectural details, or provide task lighting as needed. Some key options to consider:

Wall Sconces

Installing wall sconces on each side of the bed is an excellent way to provide both ambient and task lighting. Opt for sconces with adjustable arms so you can direct the light where needed, such as over each nightstand. Dimmer switches allow you to control the brightness. Sconces flanking the bed frame also add symmetry and style.

Reading Lamps

Reading lamps allow you to illuminate your book or e-reader without keeping your partner awake. Install swing arm lamps or table lamps on each nightstand to provide direct lighting ideal for reading in bed. Choose lamps with focused beams of light that can be aimed at the book without casting light all over the room.

Rope Lighting Behind Headboard

For a fun accent, install rope lighting on the wall behind the headboard. This creates a glow around the bed for a stylish look. Rope lights are very flexible so you can arrange them in different patterns. Use a dimmer to control the brightness. This is an easy way to add mood lighting behind the bed.

Under Bed Lighting

Strip lighting under the bed can cast a soft glow to illuminate the floor at night. This is a great lighting option if you want to be able to find your way in the dark but don't want harsh overhead lighting. Position the strip lights around the bed frame pointing toward the floor.

Bathroom Accent Lighting

The bathroom is a space that can greatly benefit from carefully planned accent lighting. Proper lighting in the bathroom serves both functional and aesthetic purposes.

  • When it comes to vanity lighting, look for fixtures mounted on each side of the mirror or medicine cabinet to provide even, shadow-free illumination for grooming. Wall sconces are a popular choice, as are horizontal strip lights. Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the brightness as needed.
  • For the shower, waterproof recessed can lights in the ceiling can create a relaxing glow. Or install a rainfall showerhead with LED lights that change color. This creates a spa-like environment to unwind in.
  • Accent lighting around the mirror is key for tasks like shaving or applying makeup. Install sconces, pendant lights, or even LED strip lights around the perimeter of the mirror. This casts light evenly on your face, reducing shadows.
  • Under-cabinet lighting illuminates the space beautifully and helps you see clearly when brushing your teeth or sorting through toiletries. Go for LED strip lights or puck lights. Place them toward the front edge of the cabinets to get the most usable light.

Kitchen Accent Lighting

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so make sure it shines with strategic accent lighting. Under-cabinet lighting illuminates countertops for food prep and cooking tasks. Opt for LED strip lighting or puck lights. Position them to reduce shadows in your work area.

  • Pendant lighting over a kitchen island adds an elegant glow while providing task lighting. Mini pendant lights work well over a breakfast bar, while larger statement pendants can anchor an open kitchen layout. Consider hanging pendants at different heights for visual interest.
  • For a colorful ambience, rope lighting mounted under upper cabinets or low bar areas casts a soft uplighting glow. Choose smart RGB rope lights to create customizable color zones. Set the mood with bright white light for tasks or switch to moody colors for dining.
  • Light strips inside glass-front cabinets provide a vibrant way to illuminate and display collectibles, dishes, or barware. Outline the inner perimeter or place lights pointing up or down. Use dimmable lights to control the brightness.

Living Room Accent Lighting

  • The living room is often the main gathering space in a home, so accent lighting can create a warm and inviting atmosphere for entertaining or relaxing. Consider using directional lighting like track lights or spotlights to highlight specific wall art, shelves, or architectural details.
  • Track lighting is highly adjustable and provides focused task lighting or display lighting. Aim spotlights at paintings, photographs, or sculptures to draw attention to them. Tracks can also be mounted behind shelves or cabinets to illuminate display objects. Go with LED or halogen bulbs for bright, focused beams.
  • Sconces and wall wash fixtures cast ambiance and visual interest on blank walls. Wall sconces flanking a sofa provide handy reading light, while an uplight sconce can create dramatic shadows behind furniture.
  • Bookshelves and display cabinets glow alluringly with built-in LED strip lighting. Outline the shelves or frame the inside of cabinets to highlight contents. LED strip lights are easy to install and emit minimal heat.


Accent lighting is one of the most impactful ways to define the character of your home. Approach it like any other design element, with an eye for creativity. Take inspiration from your favorite boutique hotels, restaurants, and museums. The right accent lighting can elevate a space from mundane to breathtaking.