Indirect Lighting: A Comprehensive Guide


Are you looking forward to improving the ambiance and style of your room? Indirect led lights can make the magic happen for you. They transform your space into an inviting aura through a few inexpensive light strips. In addition to beautifying and giving the impression of more space, indirect lighting also creates general lighting and decorative accents. 

Keep reading to get a better glimpse of more indirect lighting ideas!

What Is Indirect Lighting?

Indirect lighting is a form of ambient lighting that focuses light toward walls or ceilings and reflects into the room. It encompasses using light fixtures such as indirect LED lights to illuminate walls, ceilings, and floors. 

These walls act as reflectors, spreading the light evenly throughout the room. The light fixture is usually out of sight; you can only see the light reflecting off the walls and ceiling, not the light source itself. 

This results in less distracting glare and shadows and more even, gentle lighting.

Interior design staircase with indirect lighting within the handrail

Direct vs. Indirect Lighting

When To Use Direct Light

Direct lighting is the precise light that focuses directly on an object or area. It is predominant in accent lighting when details need to be in focus. 

Specifically, you can use direct lighting for spaces that require a considerable amount of light to aid in task lighting. They include places such as the bathrooms and reading areas.

Additionally, direct lighting acts as basic lighting in most contemporary spaces. It focuses on a focal point and produces light at a narrow beam angle. In return, you get an appealing contrast of light and shadow because direct lighting generates bright overall beams of light.

When To Use Indirect Light

Indirect lighting creates ambiance when you need to increase light in a space, for example, in recessed ceilings or furniture. It is particularly suitable for areas with reflecting surfaces, such as laptops or TVs.

Indirect lighting spreads throughout the room, creating a warm glow. Consequently, this sets the tone for a calm atmosphere.

In addition to a cozy atmosphere, there will be no unpleasant contrasts between light and shadows typical of direct lighting. However, you may require additional overhead lighting to ensure that your living room is well-lit.

Ceiling recessed lamp

Ceiling recessed lamp

Combination of Direct and Indirect Lights

A proper lighting setup blends various lighting styles to create a comfortable atmosphere where you can work or unwind.

You create semi-indirect or diffused lighting by combining direct light sources with indirect lighting techniques. Consequently, this creates an ideal contrast ratio and a pleasing spatial impression that is not too bright nor too dark.

Direct lighting provides excellent illumination for detailed tasks, whereas indirect lighting produces diffuse and general ambient light. Both types of light working together create a fair balance between light quality and energy efficiency while minimizing their drawbacks. 

Advantages of Indirect Light

  • Increased impression of comfort in the room

Indirect lighting is excellent for mood lighting, whether the lighting is diffuse, uplight or downlight. It gives every place a gentle, relaxing glow. In areas with insufficient natural light, indirect luminaires can simulate natural light, improving comfort and alertness.

  • Minimizes glare

 Indirect lighting enhances visibility, reduces eyestrain, and even boosts productivity by reducing glare. Seniors and low vision populations, whose eyes are more susceptible to glare, can benefit most from indirect lighting.

  • Improving light uniformity

Uniform illumination is essential in areas where flexibility and the ability to rearrange furniture are critical. Additionally, it minimizes shadows and keeps off excessive brightness contrast, thus balancing the light. 

Disadvantages of Indirect Light

Since indirect lighting doesn’t provide much visual thrill, it tends to be gloomy without the correct lighting. You may require to call an expert to ensure that it is adequate and even lighting.

Also, distinguishing features on three-dimensional objects can be uncomfortable and challenging if a room’s ceiling is the brightest surface. 

The lack of contrast in the space also can be monotonous.

Indirect Lighting Ideas

There are numerous uses for indirect LED illumination in the following fields:

Indirect Lighting Ideas for Living Room

It is possible to alter the hue, color temperature, and brightness of Indirect LED lights. It goes a long way in adding splendor to your living room.

Besides, you can have indirect LED lights:

  • Illuminate an angled wall
  • highlight decor items in the living space
  • as TV backlighting
  • on curtain rods
  • enhance the ceiling design

Once basic lighting is in place in the living room, indirect lighting creates additional and fantastic light zones.

living room ceiling illuminated with led strip light

living room ceiling illuminated with led strip light

Indirect Lighting Ideas for Plants

Another technique to make eye-catching focal points is with plant luminaires. 

One of the most crucial elements in the growth of healthy plants is sunlight. However, in rooms or hallways with no windows, you can not find enough bright light for houseplants.

Many home gardeners prefer LED grow lights since they can produce full-spectrum light and produce less heat, thus being eco-friendly.

LED lighting used to grow lettuce

LED lighting used to grow lettuce

Indirect Kitchen Lighting

The most popular locations in kitchens for indirect lighting are:

  • the upper cabinets’ tops
  • beneath the plinths
  • beneath the tabletops

LED strips are a more energy-efficient replacement for outdated under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen. Therefore, make sure to install the LED strip behind a glare shield.

Nevertheless, indirect lighting should only serve as an additional light source in a kitchen. Basic light should preferably be bright ceiling lights.

Indirect Kitchen Lighting

the Indirect Kitchen Lighting

Indirect Ceiling Light

Indirect LED lights must be behind a projection to create a unique virtual space. Additionally, you can create a false ceiling using LED fixtures and form intriguing shapes across the ceiling.

False ceiling design with indirect dim lighting

False ceiling design with indirect dim lighting

Indirect Wall Lighting

One of the common methods in interior design that highlights particular walls is wall washing. This method improves the texture of the walls and produces a striking focal point for various spaces.

Further, LED strip lighting along a wall brings life into the room and brilliantly enhances the living room’s decor.

How Do You Make an Indirect Light?

Making a DIY indirect lighting option that suits your lighting design is not a tasking process. You can make an indirect light by attaching an LED light strip to the back of a styrofoam stucco strip. Installation is simple and requires no special tools.

LED and stucco strips are available in various lengths that may adjust to meet your decorative lighting requirements. Remember, you can use a remote control to change the color intensity of the light by attaching a dimmer.


To sum up, consider activities in a location while designing a lighting plan to determine the best type of lighting. It’s also important to consider the architectural constraints of the area as well as the elements that need illumination.

Use direct light to emphasize any parts that need extra illumination. Lastly, you can use indirect light to help create a comfortable or ambient environment. It would help if you considered indirect LED lights since they are durable and promote energy efficiency.

Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any inquiries about your lighting setup.

Need custom LED services?