Not digging the dark basement? Is it a little bit dreary?
You want to turn this otherwise-wasted space into something fantastic, but you need to be able to bring in some atmosphere to make that happen.
These basement lighting ideas will quite literally help you illuminate your ideas, and bring them to life.
Whatever idea you have for a basement remodel, you can’t expect to impress anyone (much less yourself) with it if you can’t see it. Let’s bring some synthetic sunshine into this dark dungeon.
- 1 1. Recessed Lighting
- 2 2. Make the Walls White
- 3 3. Use Colored Lights (Recessed, Lamps, Anything)
- 4 4. Go For a Dimmer
- 5 5. Fluorescent Lighting
- 6 6. Use Mirrors (No Smoke)
- 7 7. Opt for Lighter Flooring Choices
- 8 8. Install a Fireplace
- 9 9. Bar Lighting
- 10 10. Neon Lights
- 11 11. Maintain Outside Shrubs
- 12 12. RGB Lighting
- 13 13. Studio Lights
- 14 Lighting Up Every Corner of the Room
1. Recessed Lighting
Perhaps the most popular option out there, and for good reasons. Recessed lighting is phenomenally convenient… after you install it, that is. You flip a dimmer or a switch and light emanates from the ceiling like little suns.
Recessed lighting includes LED bulbs stored within open-ended enclosures in the ceiling, forcing all that light to pour down and illuminate your basement. However, recessed lighting can also be a bit of a pain in the rear end to install.
If your basement has a drop ceiling, you can take down individual ceiling tiles and work on them that way. Use a hole driller tool and cut through, then run wires separately. Simple enough, right
It’s still time-consuming, and if you have drywall for a ceiling, it’s a more invasive process. Consider if the hassle is worth it first. In my opinion, the end result is absolutely worth the installation time.
2. Make the Walls White
Light bounces off of brightly-colored surfaces, and can actually make your room feel even brighter than usual.
That being said, you’re going to have the option of using white, but you can also use light shades of blue, green, and yellow as well. This helps synthetic light bounce off of the walls and illuminate the room.
Have you ever seen the way light just sits on the wall in a circular shape when it’s a dark gray or black color?
It’s like it’s trapped in tar and can’t move. Even if brighter colors weren’t on your goal list for your basement, it’s going to make a big difference in terms of the mood of your room.
3. Use Colored Lights (Recessed, Lamps, Anything)
Whether you want to use lamps, recessed lighting, or set up a flood light, you can change the atmosphere (and affect your circadian rhythm) by using colored lights. I don’t mean making the entire room bright red or hazard orange, but a rather warm, soft touch to the light.
Philips has an alarm clock called the SmartSleep which emulates natural sunlight in both radiance and coloration, which can help you subconsciously wake up in the morning.
When do you spend time in your basement? During the night, after work to game and have fun?
You can use colored lighting that emulates the night to make it feel like a nightclub in your own basement.
4. Go For a Dimmer
Dimmer switches are amazing because they let you control your light, meaning controlling the mood (playing pool or poker versus watching a movie), but they can also save you on your electricity bill.
If you’re remodeling your basement for the first time, you’re adding light sockets and actual lighting, which will increase your annual utility costs.
But, with a dimmer, you can effectively lower those costs to a smaller number if you use a dimmer.
You should have the option to light up your basement, but your wallet shouldn’t have to pay for it. If you’re smart about it, you can use the dimmer for either recessed LED lighting or incandescent lighting, but never fluorescent lighting.
5. Fluorescent Lighting
They’re cheap to buy, and cheap to run, but this suggestion comes with a cautionary tale. Fluorescent lighting can make you feel the “winter blues”, as people call them, when you spend too much time underneath the lamp.
These can be installed easily, the wire can run along the ceiling if you just want a quick setup and don’t care about aesthetics, but it’s not considered the best option for lighting your basement.
Because of the way fluorescent lighting works, every eight hours you spend underneath it is the equivalent to the UV rays of one minute of sun exposure.
I know, that doesn’t sound like much, but these last for years. That’s like getting hours of unnecessary UV exposure every single year. I’m not doing a great job selling this, am I?
Look, I’m just saying that fluorescent lighting is an option, it’s just like taking a shortcut: you’re not going to get the best results.
6. Use Mirrors (No Smoke)
Seriously, you can use mirrors as a cheap way to handle additional lighting in your basement (and make the room feel larger). Instead of having more lights and drawing more power, you can just make it appear that way by reflecting that light off of a few well-placed mirrors.
Depending on the angle of a light source, like a standing lamp in the corner of the room, you can angle your mirrors on the walls to reflect off of one another. One lamp turns into an extremely illuminated room, if you have the time to do it right.
For this, I would recommend closet mirrors, those five feet tall, two-foot wide mirrors that you can hang on the wall. Smaller mirrors might just end up being a waste of your time and resources.
7. Opt for Lighter Flooring Choices
A shiny, light-colored floor is going to actually help bounce light and make the room feel even bigger. Darker floors feel like they suck in the light and absorb it, and we want to avoid that entirely.
Light wood, vinyl flooring tiles, or even a complete epoxy finish can all help to reflect light. Having a shiny quality will help with lighting, but it also might create glare spots on the floor where light is focused (usually when it comes straight down from a source, like a recessed light, and hits the floor).
This is great for illumination, but if you decide to use a dimmer to turn things down, just know that you’re going to have to turn it low to keep that glare off. If your basement doubles as a media room and you want to watch movies late at night, you’ll want to turn the light down a bit.
8. Install a Fireplace
If mood lighting is more your scene, you can install a fireplace. While that sounds horribly complicated, you don’t have to be a mason to get this done. You can simply get an electric fireplace for lighting.
The great thing about this is that many of them can just be used for lighting, and don’t actually have to produce heat if you don’t want them to. They run a few hundred dollars, and work excellently if you have a bar in the basement. Speaking of bars, there’s something else I had in mind.
9. Bar Lighting
Pubs set up a very specific atmosphere, and they do it with dispersed lighting. If you sit at the bar, you’ll notice low-wattage bulbs in small fixtures that hang directly above most seats. It creates an intimate setting without sharing the light with everyone else in the room.
If you have a bar in the basement, small 20W bulbs hanging in different fixtures could set the proper mood depending on what you’re using your basement for. Drinks after dinner?
Perfect lighting. It just depends on how you want to use it.
10. Neon Lights
I know it’s been a hot minute since anyone really opted for neon lights, but they’re fun, and they’re a way to provide some level of light to your basement. I would use these for bars, media rooms, and man caves, but it’s not exactly the most reliable source of bright light.
However, this can be used in accent with other light sources to create an ambient atmosphere.
If part of your large basement is a bar, put the neon lights over there. When they’re off, the bar area feels closed-down, and you’ll focus on the more lit-up parts of your room that you’re currently using.
11. Maintain Outside Shrubs
Many basements have quarter windows that give you just a wee bit of sunlight from the outside world. If you want as much light as possible to flood into your basement naturally then you’re going to want to keep the shrubs outside or the grass near the window trimmed.
I would recommend going over this spot with a weed whacker fairly often, sweeping up debris from the area, and giving a quick wipe down to the windows to keep everything nice and clear (and it clears dirt off of it). This is a quick and basically free way to bring more light in during daylight hours.
12. RGB Lighting
RGB lights are popular amongst gamers and streamers, because they offer excellent lighting for PCs and accessories. You’ll mostly see these in desktops, mice, and keyboards, but you can actually get these in RGB LED strips to put around your room.
Media spaces, gaming areas, and streaming setups will benefit greatly from this since it sets the proper mood for the area.
On top of that, you’ll also benefit from the low cost to keep them on, and their extremely long lifespan. RGB LEDs aren’t going to run a lot of wattage, so there’s little to no risk of them burning out at random.
13. Studio Lights
Studio lights are similar to bar lights, except they produce heat and give off a lot more bright light. You can install these in the ceiling or on the walls, just be careful that you don’t angle them in the direct line of vision that people will be looking in.
What I mean by that is, you should have these lights either illuminate a wall, the floor, or the ceiling, instead of shining in the direction of where you or guests will be. These are bright and powerful lights, so be cautious with brightness exposure.
Lighting Up Every Corner of the Room
Whichever option you choose, you have a way to bring some powerful light into your space and bring it out of the dark ages.
If you’ve recently finished a basement, you can opt for studio lights, bar lights, and RGB LEDs, but if you’re just about to get renovations underway, I would suggest recessed lighting.