18 Basement Lighting Ideas for a Bright, Inviting Space

small living room, sofa, area rug
Photo: Marty Baldwin

Due to their location, basements often lack the natural light that makes a room feel open and inviting. The right combination and placement of light fixtures can help make up the difference. Use these basement lighting ideas, including recessed, ceiling-mount, and stand-alone fixtures, to create a brightly lit space.

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Recessed Can Lighting

remodeled basement with blue couch
David A Land

If your remodeled basement has a finished or suspended ceiling, recessed can lighting is a great option. These fixtures contribute focused light from above. Great for seating, dining, and crafts areas, the downlighting offers bright light while minimizing shadows and glare. They're also a game-room favorite, as the recessed fixtures aren't easily damaged by wayward pool cues or Ping-Pong balls. Here, basement can lighting all but disappears into the ceiling above a sitting area, allowing the room's colorful furnishings and nautical-theme details to take center stage.

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Ceiling and Wall-Mounted Fixtures

living room with grey walls and chandelier
John Merkl

The same design principles used in upstairs living spaces can apply to finished basements, too. Especially in areas with relatively high ceilings, feel free to hang a statement ceiling fixture or an elegant sconce below ground level. This finished ceiling with crown molding features a striking blown-glass chandelier that draws attention upward and visually expands the space. A table lamp ensures the desk area has plenty of light.

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Combine Basement Lighting Types

small living room, sofa, area rug
Marty Baldwin

Many rooms benefit from a combination of lighting fixture types, which is especially true in basements where natural light can be scarce. This lower-level living area uses recessed can lighting to add broad illumination, while adjustable floor lamps flank the sofa to provide reading light. The fixtures combine ambient and task lighting to accommodate lounging, entertaining, or reading on the sofa.

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Lighting Ideas for Walk-Out Basements

Living room with white shelving and TV
David Tsay

In walk-out basements that receive plenty of natural light, creating a bright space might not be such a challenge. Supplement the light coming in from a sliding door with just one or two fixtures you can flick on at nighttime. Here, a ceiling-mounted fixture in the center of the room illuminates the space when the sun goes down.

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Lighting a Basement Play Room

Child's dining area with colorful artwork
David A Land

In basement playrooms designed for rambunctious kids, elaborate or delicate light fixtures typically aren't the best idea. If you have a finished ceiling, recessed can-light fixtures are the obvious choice. Avoid shadows by installing the fixtures so the light from each fixture overlaps the beam of adjacent ones. Then kids are free to play without fear of knocking over a lamp or hitting a wall-mounted fixture.

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Track Lighting for Accents

white staircase with dark accent in middle
Ann VanderWiel Wilde

Track lighting excels at focusing brilliant beams of light precisely where they will have the most impact. In this basement landing area, a snaking track of spotlights can illuminate a dark hallway when needed. Along with a wall-mounted sconce, the overhead fixtures can direct light onto a collection of wall art on the staircase wall, creating a gallery-like effect.

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Pendant Lighting Fixtures

living room layout green highlights
Edmund Barr

Pendant lighting fixtures drop from the ceiling and hover over an area that needs illumination. Besides shedding light over a specific area, they can introduce sculptural shapes and glowing colors that add style from overhead. Depending on their design, pendant lights can offer focused task lighting, overall ambient lighting, or colorful accent lighting. To maximize the brilliance of basement lighting, choose clear glass shades that won't obstruct the bulb's brightness.

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False Lighted Window

blue bench in front of window with throw and geometric curtains
Steven McDonald

Bring sunny daylight-spectrum light into a windowless basement room by constructing a false lighted window. These easy-to-build custom light fixtures create above-ground ambience with a clever illusion. Just frame and trim a window opening in a finished basement wall, paint the concrete wall behind it reflective white, mount several inexpensive fluorescent fixtures on the wall, and equip them with daylight-spectrum bulbs. Then hang a translucent light-filtering window treatment, such as a gauzy accordion shade, to enjoy the even, filtered illumination.

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Basement Accent Lighting

Shelving and cupboards at the end of stairs
Brie Williams

If your basement includes features such as built-in shelving or cabinetry, use lighting to accentuate these areas. Try mounting a wall sconce directly above built-ins to focus light downward and draw extra attention. For deep shelving, choose a swing-arm sconce that extends further away from the wall and can direct more light back toward the shelves.

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Multiple Sources of Basement Lighting

White kitchen with purple bar stools

For even illumination, multiple light sources work best. This basement kitchen has every angle covered, with light converging from above. Opening the ceiling allows for natural light to flow into the below-ground room. Pendant lights above the island allow for task lighting in the work triangle.

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Industrial-Style Lighting

salvaged industrial pendant in kitchen

With concrete walls and exposed structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, unfinished basements have all the bones of an industrial-style living space. If you choose to leave these elements exposed rather than cover them, consider adding industrial-style lighting to complete the look. Complementing the exposed-beam basement ceiling, the simple metal pendant lights shown here offer a contemporary update on the type of fixtures that used to outfit factories.

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Recessed Miniature Can Lights

basement kitchen and bar
James Yochum

A galaxy of recessed miniature can lights shine down on this basement bar. The bright white light from these fixtures accentuates the glowing wood cabinetry, sparkling glassware, granite countertops, and stainless-steel bar surfaces. Each row of lights is on a separate dimmer switch, allowing the homeowner to dial in the precise amount of illumination needed: bright for lively parties or dim for watching the TV mounted above the back-bar.

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Vintage Pendant Lighting

laundry room with curtains
King Au

These vintage-style pendant lamps, with their brushed-nickel hardware and milk-glass shades, are often called schoolhouse lamps. They were installed in thousands of early-20th-century schools, libraries, and other public buildings before the advent of fluorescent lighting. The nostalgic, industrial look, which is complete with surface-mounted wiring, complements the exposed floor joists and painted block walls of this basement cleanup area. Because of their shapely translucent shades, these lights cast a pleasingly soft, diffuse glow that contrasts nicely with the crisp, structural-looking architecture.

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Adjustable Pendant Lights

light fixture
Ed Gohlich

Light that comes from near the ceiling is great for overall illumination, but at other times (when reading, cooking, or doing paperwork, for example), you'd prefer a light source closer to the task. These pendant lights feature a clever counterweight-and-pulley system that allows for effortless adjustment. Just move the light to the position you want it, and it stays there until you raise or lower it again. Hanging the fixtures from this basement's hand-hewn ceiling beams draws further attention to those handsome architectural elements.

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Track-Mounted Spotlights

workspace with plank table
John Granen

Situated in a walkout basement with large windows, this artist's studio gets plenty of natural light by day. After dark, track-mounted spotlights brighten the workbench, table, sink, shelving, and other areas. Installed beneath the ceiling joists, the lights provide focused illumination exactly where it's needed. The bulbs provide bright white light that's ideal for tasks where attention to color and detail is important.

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Pendant Lighting for High-Ceiling Basements

light fixture over table
Dominique Vorilion

High basement ceilings such as those in this space can feel light and airy or just big and empty. Pendant lighting creates visual interest and a sense of intimacy in tall rooms. The sleek array of sculptural lights here creates a visual focal point that complements the room's modern design at just above eye level. When in use, they provide area lighting for the dining table and, with the rest of the room darkened, create the sense of a small, intimate dining space within a room that might otherwise feel uncomfortably large.

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Basement Track Lighting

home office with bookshelves
Joan Hix Vanderschuit

Track lighting makes a great basement lighting idea because it's easy to install, doesn't take up floor or wall space, and is remarkably flexible. Many systems, such as the one shown here, combine both spot fixtures for accent lighting and pendant or flood fixtures for ambient lighting. Track lighting also allows you to easily redirect the brightness when you rearrange the room's furnishings without having to change the fixtures.

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Lighting a Basement Studio or Office

crafting room with green walls
Greg Scheidemann

This basement studio/office combines natural light, track lighting, and pendant lighting to create a bright, comfortable space for both creative and office work. A generously sized window allows daylight to spill in, while track lighting shoots tightly focused beams of light on artwork displayed on wall shelves. In the center of the room, a drawing table takes advantage of indirect daylight reflected by the walls and ceiling as well as a fixture suspended over the table. Pendant lighting above the desk provides task lighting for office work.

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