Basements are like blank canvases because they are typically storage rooms and not made for anything else, or so we thought. But like any other part of the house, the basement needs lighting.
As a matter of fact, lightwork for the basement is a crucial addition to make it look like it is an extension of the homey vibe of the house and not just for mere storage.
If you are looking for some basement lighting ideas that will notch up your basement with the vibe that you want for whatever purpose you want it to serve, here is a rundown of what you can do with your lightwork project.
Related: Best basement office ideas
25 basement lighting ideas
The most common lighting ideas for any type of room in the house are in the range of recessed, pendant, accent, task, and track.
Basement lighting could also be in terms of wall paint colors and other accent furniture and decorative pieces. If you are looking for basement lighting ideas, here is a list to consider.
1. Can lighting
This one is one of the most popular types of recessed lighting. If your basement has a suspended ceiling, this is the best choice for lighting.
Having a scattered yet focused light from the ceiling is beautiful for a basement dining, living room, or game room. It offers enough bright light for a damp room without glare.
2. Ceiling and wall-mounted lighting
Basements deserve the same fixtures as the ones seen upstairs. This includes ceiling and wall-mounted lightings like a glass chandelier, a low-lying sconce light, or yellow wall lights for ambient lighting.
Visually, these types of lighting expand the space because the scattered bright light gives you a lot of pieces and arrangements to focus on.
3. Combination of lighting types
If you are eyeing transitional basements, go for a combination of different lighting. For an extended living area, entertainment room, and study room, recessed lights can be installed for balanced illumination.
Adding floor lamps on the side is beneficial for night studying. The combination of bright and ambient lighting is always a good choice for the basement. It works best among modern style basements.
4. Solitary bulb
Having only one source of illumination is perfect for basements that receive a large amount of natural light. This is the case for walk-out basements. You would not need a lot of light fixtures because it is bright enough during the daytime.
And at night, you will only need a solitary light source (like a decorative fluorescent light) to flick on and off. Having one hanging along with the basement ceiling, along the basement stairs is also a nice accent lighting that could be added.
5. Track lighting the stairs
We often see track lighting for stairs in the cinema to guide the movie-goers to their seats. If you want the same effect, you can do this for your basement stairs too.
Aside from the easy navigation, it brings to a dark and damp basement, it also offers a dramatic entrance or a gallery-effect to the entire place.
6. Pendant lighting
This type of lighting is the best choice for basement minibars, basement coffee nook, or for creating a warm and cozy nook. The hanging lights are perfect in giving focus and shadow play to a room. Pendant lights for these basement ideas act as ambient, accent, and task lighting all at once.
7. False lighting
If you want a minimal amount of lighting installed but you want a daytime illumination source or if you have a windowless basement, you can create a false lighting window. For this, you need a trimmed window opening and nail it to the basement wall.
After that, you can paint it with reflective white color and attach small fluorescent lights along with the frame. The final touch is hanging a translucent window treatment to create the window illusion.
8. Accent lighting
If you have existing fixtures in the basement that deserve to be highlighted (like a stacked bookshelf or rows of wine racks), go for ambient accent lighting. You can install sconce lights on different angles depending on the area that you want to emphasize.
It can be a drop-down sconce for more focused lighting and a swing-arm sconce if you want more light towards the racks or shelves.
9. Industrial style lighting
If you want a lighting type that complements your unfinished basement or those exposed beams and plumbing, go for industrial style lighting. You can opt for metal or brass pendant lights with the addition of four recessed lights in every corner. Balancing these further would be additional industrial style decorative pieces.
10. Vintage pendants
For a basement laundry room, bathroom, or study rooms, going for vintage pendant lights are the ones to dig. Complete with their milky white color, nickel frames, these schoolhouse lamps, they are good for the aesthetics of unfinished basements. Their diffused, warm glow adds to the vintage feel of the room.
11. Counterweight and pulley pendant lighting
If you want a leveled lighting, diffusing focused lights in many angles at once, go for the counterweight and pulley pendant lighting. You can adjust the leveled lighting through a simple pull mechanism. It is also a good choice for unfinished basements.
12. Track mounted ceiling lights
Track lighting is not just for the stairs. Having a series of track lights below the basement ceiling is an artsy touch. You can focus the track lights along with the sink, table, and shelf areas. The white light is viable for task lighting, giving enough illumination for small details when in the workbench or while you are painting.
13. Bank on everything light
If you have a lot of windows in your basement or if you can install a couple, you can just color the entire basement with everything bright-colored. For balanced lighting, you can drape the windows with sheer window treatment. Dimmers instead of can lighting for the night is also a fine touch.
14. Modern chandeliers
Peculiar looking chandeliers are trendy additions to a traditional, leather-infused wine cellar in the basement. You can always opt for the conventional sconces, but fun looking chandeliers are good in sprucing up a dim wine cellar. These types of chandeliers are also ambient lighting types that make a moody basement.
15. Whimsical lighting
If you think that string lights are only for the deck or patio, think again because with them installed along with the basement ceilings or overhanging in the edges, you are creating a whimsy basement that is both romantic and unique.
It is also perfect for transition basements or those with a steady supply of natural light coming in during the daytime.
16. Glass basement ceiling lights
If you are down the route of elegant, modern, and flashy basements, go for glass ceiling lights. They are good for basements with a central fireplace or transition basements. It is also perfect for ambient wine cellars and family dens.
17. Recycled beer can be lighting
This is one thing to do if you are eyeing a repurposed lighting design for your basement bar. Instead of the usual recessed can lighting or pendant lights, you can mount the LED or different colored lamps inside a recycled beer can.
It adds focused illumination as well as balanced shadows to create a scenic mood for your basement bar.
18. Wine bottle chandelier lighting
If you want a crafty DIY take on your basement lighting specifically for a basement wine cellar, transition basement, or a mancave, go for another repurposed lighting idea but this time with wine bottles arranged as chandeliers.
Like the previous idea, you can use a combination of LED, yellow, and other colored lights inside wine bottles with different lengths and tints.
19. LED stair lighting
The effect of LED stair lighting is not just a neat illumination but also something which resembles museums and galleries. This is another type of track lighting that is best complemented by hanging framed pictures, memorabilia, or paintings in descending order along the stairs.
20. Drum chandelier lighting
For a rustic, vintage vibe, go for another repurposed lighting idea with this drum chandelier lighting. It gives off a lot of uniqueness, personality, and musical vibe which is perfect if you are making a music studio out of your basement.
21. Motion sensor lights
Aside from being an important security feature, installing motion sensors also detect inconspicuous motions that would help you in deterring cockroaches and rodents niching in the basement.
It goes well with any type of lights, but LED lights are its most common complement.
22. Ambient uplighting
The idea of uplighting is becoming a favorite trend for modern interior design. It works by redirecting the light focus upwards or to the ceiling. This one produces mellow lights and a warm feel especially when installed in different places around the basement.
Another ambient lighting technique would be to mount LED lights behind the basement wall.
23. Daylight spectrum lights
If you want to have light fixtures resonating the outdoors, daylight spectrum lights are the best choice for you. This type of lighting works perfectly for basements with white walls. Incorporating dimmers to work at night helps in this type of lighting too.
24. Fluorescent light fixtures
Modern and minimalistic basement designs are still high on using fluorescent lighting. While they are bright, they still give off a warm glow, and installing them as wall fixtures along wall panels gives a classy take on basement lighting.
If you intend to infuse different types of lightings for your basement, do not forget to add dimmers in the room. This type of lighting has a moody and ambient effect after being exposed to the glaring lights of the brighter LED or fluorescent lights.
They also calm the eyes after the display of colored pendant lights. And if it is time for bed or night reading, you can just switch them until you fall asleep with their warm glow.
Basement lighting ideas – FAQs
How do you illuminate a basement?
There are five common ways to illuminate a basement and they are easier to install than you think. First, you can count on maximizing the natural light that comes into your basement by having transparent, glass doors, lightly tinted windows, and thin curtains and drapes.
Second, choose the right lighting type depending on the depth of the room. The most popular is installing sconces.
The third is adding accent lightings like wall lamps or ambient pendant lights. Fourth is adding some task lighting like a desk light or string lights beneath the cabinets or around the shelves’ frame. Fifth, choose your light preference (i.e. fluorescent, incandescent, LED lights or halogen).
An underrated way that does not involve light would be producing the right color accents through the right color combinations for the walls.
How do I get more natural light in my basement?
If you want to make sure that the basement gets enough natural light, you might want to consult your architect, interior designer, or engineer about any of the following.
- Open the floor plan.
- Consider building an egress or skylight window.
- Hang mirrors that reflect natural light outdoors.
- Put up solar tubes around the house’s exterior.
- Control the light with retractable screens or tinted windows.
- Paint the eaves white.
- Use bright colors for your basement ceiling and walls.
These are just a few tweaks that you are adding to your basement but if you use the right one, you can enjoy all the natural light that you need. Some are appropriate for windowless basements while others can be enhancements for basements with windows.
What is the best lighting for a basement?
From accent to ambient lighting, there are a lot of choices for lighting the basement. But according to most interior design sites, the best lighting option would be LED recessed lighting. Lumens-wise, LED is the least straining when it comes to the eye. In terms of illumination, it also provides the most even light source for the basement.
According to 1000 Bulbs, the best Lumen output for a dark and damp basement is in between 800-1200. You can get this from a 13watts LED light.
But then again, it still depends on the type of basement that you have and what type of room or living space you are aiming for it to transition into. You can use a lot of lighting variations in the basement and when they all come in full circle when you turn them on, they can also prove to be the best lighting for a basement.
How can I brighten my basement without a window?
If installing a skylight window is not an option or any type of window for that matter, you can still provide illumination for your basement by doing any of the following:
- Painting the walls with bright colors.
- Flooring and furniture should also be light-colored.
- Layer your lights.
- Add mirrors or any metal accent.
- Add some greens using natural plants.
- Hang colorful paintings.
- Organize the stuff in your basement.
Windowless basements are not hard to work with because as this list proves, everything can be done DIY when it comes to illuminating a basement without a window. You just have to think outside the box and dig hard on bright colors and decorative pieces.
Where should recessed lights be placed in the basement?
In the basement ceiling. But this should be done with consideration to many factors. Here are some rules of thumb when it comes to placing recessed lights in the basement would be the following:
- 10 recessed lights are enough for the basement.
- Recessed lights in a 9ft basement space must be installed at 3-4.5 inches apart.
- 4-inches recessed lights are the most appropriate for small to medium size basements.
- Basement spaces of 12ft or more need more than 10 pieces of recessed lights.
In modern interior designs, recessed lights are also used as accent lights for the basement stairs and as floor lamps especially in basement study rooms, family dens, and living rooms. Recess lights are versatile and you should explore these considerations if you are aiming to install them in your basement.
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Basement lighting is done to transform a cluttered space into an additional living space that the family will love. Before installing the basement lights, you must first identify the type of space you are trying to set up in the basement before you could choose which light to add.
Basement bars go well with pendant lights while living rooms, additional bedrooms, and family dens are better with recessed lights. Study rooms and game rooms in the basement are better with task lights, ambient or bright LED lights.
Aside from this, you must also know some complementing accents that will help in adding more illumination to your basement as well as some important rules of thumb in installing one. Nonetheless, basement lighting is a good investment; it beautifies the home, adds more utilitarian space for the family, and offers real estate value to the property as a whole.