Lighting is seriously important. It can make a dramatic change in any room—the contrast between prison-like fluorescents and the warm glow of sconces, for instance, is huge. A good central light fixture with the right wattage and style can instantly transform a room into a more inviting space. Even Lydia Marks, set director for Sex and the City, claims that “lighting is one of the most important things to consider” when designing a drool-worthy closet. You can’t get a more convincing opinion than that.
Whether you’re looking to light up an existing closet or you’re brainstorming ideas to bring to your custom closet designer before it’s even installed, you’ll definitely want to consider the different options currently available to you. Between basic lighting design, the wide variety of current bulb technologies, and the addition of smart-lighting elements, you’ve got an impressive array of options to choose from.
Design for Ambient Illumination
Of the three types of lighting used in interior design, ambient light might be the most important. It’s certainly the only type of lighting that comes built into your traditional walk-in closet—likely provided by a fluorescent panel or a couple of recessed can lights. With the right bulbs and a glossy reflective finish on your cabinetry, recessed lighting can be a good base for a truly luxurious closet lighting design. However, for the best results, you’re going to want to look even further out of the box.
The truth of the matter is that every walk-in closet requires a central focal point. Adding a stylish central lighting fixture, like a chandelier or a large or framed pendant lamp, will go a long way toward making your space more put together. Choose a ceiling fixture with multiple light sources (in other words, multiple bulbs) to really increase the ambient light in a shadowy space.
The purpose of ambient light is to provide a soft glow without glare—so a spotlight-type lamp or directed track light is not going to create the look you’re going for here.
Make Sure Your Lighting Design Is Up to the Task
Your next step is to choose appropriate task lighting, which allows you a more direct and bright light source and prevents eye strain. You’ll want to add in lighting elements that allow you to see individual accessories and clothing items in perfect department-store brightness so that their colors and textures really pop.
My preferred method of task lighting includes adding recessed LED lights throughout the most important areas of the closet. I like to include one panel or ribbon strip recessed above each hanging rod to shine a light on the clothes in that section. For shelving sections, I experiment with placing a ribbon light on the left, top, and right sides of the front surrounding panel so that the shelves are illuminated (but you can’t see the LEDs from the outside).
Finish up with Appropriate Accents
Finally, you’ll want to include softening accents that create more visual interest in your new space. Hanging artwork or a framed wedding gown in your walk-in? Highlight these elements with a wall-mounted picture light. Accent lighting also works well if you’re wanting to illuminate a display of handbags or other art pieces.
A neat trick for making your space look even larger is to add splash lighting above your cabinets. Linear LED strips are perfect for this, because they shine a glow over the ceiling and into the corners of the room without ever being seen. This strategy removes any remaining shadows and gives the effect of higher ceilings.
Incorporate Smart Elements
If you’re still looking for more luxury, why not link all of your lighting elements via Bluetooth to a single switch so that they all turn on simultaneously when you open the door to your master closet? The same principle can be used with inside-cabinet lights or even drawer lights. You’ll score even more points if you sync your entire system with your smartphone via Google Home or a combination of other portals (Philips Hue is a super effective version that cooperates well with both Android and IOS).
With the stunning aesthetic you’ve created with your lighting design and the techy ease with which you’ve made your master closet more intuitive, you’re all set to walk into the closet of your dreams. Some of these elements (especially the recessed lights) are difficult to DIY and are therefore best left to a closet professional if you’re looking for a truly seamless look.
Closet America’s designers are ready and waiting to answer any questions you may have about lighting design and the newest trends on the market—and they’ll happily complete all the hard work for you. Sign up for your free design consultation to learn more about the transformation that awaits you in your walk-in closet.