• Jacki Johnson

A Buying Guide to the Bulb and Light Options for the Rooms in Your Home

There are a lot of different light bulbs that are on the market today. Sometimes it can be hard to decide what types of bulbs are right for you. It can be really confusing, because you want to have the right type of lighting for your home and be able to see.

Below you will find a guide to choosing the right types of lights and bulbs for the rooms in your home.

Think about the function of the room

In general, lighting function is going to fall into one of these three categories: accent, ambient, and task.

Accent lighting

This type of lighting is made to highlight a certain area. This can be a bookcase or a piece of art. It usually will create shadows around your object to create an effect that is dramatic.

Ambient lighting

This is also called general lighting. This will act as the overall lighting in your room. It will illuminate all of your room and this is considered the natural light of the room. Common kinds of ambient lighting are wall sconces, track lighting, pendant lights, and chandeliers.

Task lighting

This type of lighting will light up a reading or work area. You will want this type of lading to be much brighter when it compares with ambient lighting. This way the contrast will focus your light in your specified area. Undercabinet lights in your kitchen and desk lamps are common types of task lighting options. But track lighting and pendant lights also can be used as task lighting. It all depends on how your are layering your lighting in the room, as well as the brightness of the bulbs.

So that you are properly able to light up your room using these kinds of techniques, you should consider how you’re going to use the rooms and whether there is anything you want to accent in your rooms. Then you want to start layering. Many people often recommend that you start using ambient lighting first, then you should consider accent and task lighting.

Then you want to consider where the lighting’s going to go in your room. You shouldn’t worry about the types of fixtures right now. You just want to consider where you’ll want your various lighting put in your room. If you aren’t sure where you should start, think about these suggestions that go room to room.


It can sometimes be tricky to choose bathroom lighting. You’re going to want to have lighting to use in your mirror area, but test lights that are overhead often creates shadows. Think about lighting your mirror on each side. Then put ambient light overhead so that your whole bathroom is illuminated.


A lot of people use task lighting in the bedroom on their nightstands. It’s a good idea to angle any type of light away from your bed. It’s also a good idea to angle ambient lighting that’s overhead away from your bed and towards the area of the dresser.

Living room

Along with ambient light, it’s a good idea to have accent lights in one corner of your living room. Focus on a single object, such as a chair or artwork.


It’s important to have ambient light that is overhead in your kitchen, and then add some task lighting for illuminating counter space where you’re going to be working. If it’s possible, you can also put task lighting above your sink.

If you are renting an apartment or your home, it’s possible that you’re not going to be able to do a lot about some of your lighting positions. But the above general guidelines are going to help you with understanding how you can work with what’s available.

Select the Best Lightbulbs

The bulb is going to be the source of your light, so the kind of bulb is going to determine how your light Is going to look. Different types of bulbs will perform differently. There’re four basic kinds of lightbulbs

Compact Florescent Lightbulbs

These are also known as CFL‘s. These bulbs are 75% more efficient when compared with incandesce and bulbs. These types of lightbulbs will also list which longer. These bulbs usually emit a tone that is cooler, but they can be found in many different types of brightness temperatures and levels. These types of light bulbs contain mercury, and even though it’s in small amounts, they are going to require more careful disposal and handling.


These types of lightbulbs give off a white, bright light, which is similar to natural light. These are great for using in task lighting. They’re also 10 to 20% more efficient when compared with incandescent bulbs.


When you think of lightbulbs, these are the lightbulbs that you probably grew up with. These types of lightbulbs aren’t as common anymore, since they aren’t as efficient as the most modern ones. They provide you with a glowing, warm light.


LED lightbulbs are as efficient as the CFLs, but they are able to list as much as 3x longer. These types of lights used to be used mostly for the task lighting, because it used to be that they only had a direct, harsh light. However, as the years have gone on they have changed. Because of this, they also are pricey.

You’re going to find other kind of lightbulbs, but these for are the ones that you are going to see the most in the stores and used mostly in the house.

If you recently have purchased light bulbs, chances are you may have noticed a brand new sticker put on the lightbulb. It’s now required by the FTC that lightbulb packaging includes information regarding the brightness, the length of time the lightbulb is going to last, the amount of energy values, and whether it will meet the requirements of Energy Star.

When it comes to the brightness of a lightbulb, this is measured in lumens. The larger than lumens number, the brighter your bulb will be. A typical lightbulb in your home will produce around 800 lm, and this is equal to 60 W.

Chances are you want to know the amount of lumens that you’re going to need for each of your rooms. This is going to depend on the size of the room, the color of your walls, and how bright you want the lighting to be. Below are some guidelines as to how many lumens different rooms in your house should be in general.

  • Kitchens: 5,000 to 10,000 total lumens

  • Bathrooms: 4,000 to 8,000 total lumens

  • Bedrooms: 2,000 to 4,000 total lumens

  • Living rooms: 1,500 to 3,000 total lumens

  • Dining rooms: 3,000 to 6,000 total lumens

  • Home offices: 3,000 to 6,000 total lumens

You want to remember that these are going to be just estimates and they account for the room having various kinds of lighting options and bulbs in each of the rooms. Kitchens typically are going to be brighter and they usually will include a mixture of task and ambient lighting. Living room and bedrooms typically are going to be less bright.

Kelvins – Light Appearance

Beyond the brightness, it’s also important to consider the light’s color temperature. In the past, the CFs produced lights that were very cool and cool. But there’s a huge difference with the way that they look now, and they are available now in yellower, warmer tones. Their packaging should let you know the light’s color temperature, from cool to warm, and this is measured in kelvins. When it’s a high Kelvin number, the light is going to be cooler. Below are some suggestions on the Kelvin numbers for each room.

  • Warm White/Soft White – This is 2700 Kelvins and it’s best for living rooms and bedrooms. It provides a cozy, warm feel to the room.

  • Cool White/Bright White – This is 4100 Kelvins. This is best for bathrooms, garages and kitchens and provides a whiter look and a feeling that’s more energetic.

  • Daylight – This is 5000 to 6000 Kelvin. This is best in kitchens, basements and bathrooms. It’s good for intricate projects, applying makeup or reading. It will give you the best contrast when it’s among colors.

It helps to have a basic idea of how bulbs work. This way, you can pick and choose a bulb to your liking. Also, dimmers are a great option if you want to vary the intensity of your lighting. We’ve covered how to install a dimmer switch yourself.

Once you are familiar about how the lights function, the brightness you’ll want and the temperature that is good, you want to choose the right kind of fixture. This will help you to optimize the factors. Below are some of the most common fixtures and where and how they’re usually used.

  • Ceiling mount lights – These are standard to provide ambient lighting. They’re great for places like hallways, entry foyers, bedrooms, stairways and task areas. It’s recommended that you space out the lights ever 8-10 feet so that there’s enough light.

  • Chandeliers – When they’re used for ambient or general lighting, it’s best to use them in bedrooms or dining rooms.

  • Wall Mounted Lights – These usually are sconces. You can use them in just about any room for task, accent or ambient lighting, based on where they are placed and the type of bulb that’s used.

  • Pendant Lighting – This is used for general or task lighting, and they’re hung from your ceiling. They come with shades over the bulbs so that glare is avoided. They will work best over counter tops, tables in the dining room or work areas.

  • Recessed Lighting – This also can be used just about anywhere for accent, task or general light. This will depend on the brightness and location of the lights.

  • Track lighting – This can also be used for almost anything. It is particularly versatile since your individual lamps can often be moved around and pointed in the direction you desire. This can be used for highlighting artwork or you might use it for lighting up the entire room.

  • Table Lamps – These are perfect to use for bedroom task lighting or living room accent lighting.

With this general guide, you should have a lot easier time to find the right light bulbs and the right type of light fixture you want to have for the rooms in your home. Keep in mind that even though the newer bulbs are more expensive, they also last longer, so they don’t have to be replaced as often. This is going to help you save time in the long run.

When you are searching for light bulbs, think about this guide or even print it out and take it with you. That way you will be able to refer back to it when you’re shopping to get the information that you need.

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