The latest trends in home lighting are focused less on the aesthetics of light fixtures and more on how they function for entertaining and at-home ease. From smart light bulb installation to energy-saving LED bulbs, there are quick lighting fixes to upgrade your home lighting system on every budget.

By Linley Sanders
June 09, 2015
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Few people give a second thought to their home's lighting, yet it plays a prominent role in their daily lives and energy consumption. By spending a bit of time and money updating lightbulbs and controls, homeowners can see the world in a brand-new light. Whether you are comparing smart light bulbs, installing smart light switches, or just looking for the best overall lighting system for your home, we shed light on the most popular new features to enhance your interior lighting design.

two-tone blue and white kitchen cabinets with lighting strips

Ambient and Non-Direct Lighting for Kitchens

Build your own smart recessed lighting with a series of trendy smart bulbs and plugs. The Philips Hue Go light is a portable, dimmable lamp that can be positioned as relief lighting, while the Philips Hue Ambiance LightStrip offers smart strip lighting. The non-direct lighting works perfectly in bathrooms and kitchens for easy navigation in the evenings. If you are not ready to invest in the smart home technology, you can create your own relief lighting by plugging existing strips of lights or string lights into a smart plug.

Rustic seating area

Smart Light Plugs vs. Smart Light Bulbs for Living Spaces

When upgrading your home lighting system from simple timers to smart light technology, you need to decide up-front whether you want to invest in smart plugs or smart bulbs. Simply put, smart plugs are ideal for slowly integrating smart home technology on a budget, while smart bulbs offer more versatility (hello, color-changing light shows!) for at-home entertaining. The smart plugs, like Belkin WeMo, are beneficial because homeowners can more-or-less keep their existing light systems while integrating smart home features, like voice activation and energy reports.

Smart light bulbs, including the Lifx and Philips Hue models, replace existing nonsmart bulbs and sync with the home’s WiFi for voice control, app integration, and millions of color options. A clear benefit of smart light bulb products over smart plugs is the mood lighting features—the bulbs offer dimmability and dusk-to-dawn automation. In addition, the top smart bulbs offer a 22-year lifespan, which surpasses most nonsmart bulbs.

dining room

The Benefits of Automated Lighting Systems

A popular trend in home lighting is a centralized automated system that allows a homeowner to control every lightbulb in her home from a single wall panel or using an app on a smartphone or tablet. These smart home systems can automatically adjust lighting for certain times of the day or in conjunction with particular activities or entertaining moods.

Some smart systems are voice-activated with the help of smart assistants, allowing a homeowner to make changes without ever leaving the couch or lifting a finger. In addition to being easy to operate, the automated lighting systems can potentially reduce your home's utility bill by using energy more efficiently. The systems are typically included as part of a larger home automation program, which might also include security appliances and the HVAC system.

There are some surprisingly simple automated lighting systems available for DIY installation. The more involved smart programs, however, are best left to a home automation professional. The experts can help you create a brand-new lighting scheme or retrofit your current system in a day, especially if you are incorporating other smart devices, like smart locks or smart security systems.

light switch dimmers, lighting

LED Lightbulbs and Dimmer Switches

Homeowners who aren't ready to invest in a whole-house lighting system might instead update their home's lightbulbs, incorporate dimmer switches, or add occupancy sensor light switches. Most people have already made the switch from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents (CFL) because energy efficiency changes to U.S. laws have made incandescent all but obsolete. While CFLs dramatically lower energy use, they aren't "green." People concerned with the environment might prefer light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Thanks to their digital nature, LED bulbs also allow for some cool bells and whistles when incorporated with smart technology.


Be the first to comment!