How to Select the Right Lighting for Your Closet

A well-lit closet is essential for selecting your daily outfits and keeping your space organized. Proper lighting allows you to see colors and details accurately so you can put together the most flattering looks. The right lighting also makes your closet feel bright and inviting rather than dark and gloomy. When selecting lighting for your closet, there are several key factors to consider including the size of your closet, types of bulbs, placement of fixtures, use of different lighting zones, and creating the right ambience. Follow this comprehensive guide to choose the optimal lighting plan for your closet space.

Determine the Right Amount of Lighting for Your Closet Size

The first step is deciding how much illumination your closet needs. The size of your closet will determine the necessary wattage for an adequately lit space.

Small and Medium Closets

For small closets, such as reach-in closets less than 8 feet wide, look for bulb wattages between 100-300 watts. This provides enough glow for you to see clearly without overpowering the compact space.

Medium walk-in or built-in closets approximately 8 feet wide can handle 300-400 watts of lighting. Spreading this wattage over several fixtures prevents shadows or dark corners.

Large and Extra Large Closets

A large walk-in closet or master suite dressing room 10-12 feet wide will need 500-800 watts of illumination. This makes the bigger area easy to navigate and properly visible.

Extra large walk-in closets over 12 feet wide can utilize 800-1200 watts of lighting. Ample light prevents straining your eyes to find items. Powerful bulbs also highlight details on clothing and accessories.

Take measurements and note the square footage before shopping for lighting to buy the appropriate wattage. Getting the right brightness prevents eye strain.

Select the Best Light Bulb Types

The next consideration is the types of bulbs to use for your closet lighting. Choose energy efficient bulbs that provide the right color temperature to accurately portray colors in your wardrobe.

LED Bulbs

LED bulbs are the top choice for closet lighting. LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. LEDs give off minimal heat to prevent damage to delicate fabrics. The bulbs illuminate instantly without warm up time.

LEDs come in a range of color temperatures from warm 2700-3000K to bright cool 4000-6500K. Go for soft white 2700-3000K LEDs to see fabric colors correctly.

Fluorescent Tubes

Fluorescent tubes disperse ambient light well for large closet spaces. Opt for full spectrum daylight tubes between 5000-6500K to get as close as possible to natural sunlight. This shows the true colors of garments.

Fluorescent bulbs use about 75% less energy than incandescent options. Just be aware they contain mercury and require special disposal.

Halogen Bulbs

Halogen lights have high color rendering ability to display accurate shades. However, halogens are not very energy efficient and get very hot. This excessive heat can damage clothing and cause a potential fire hazard.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are not recommended for closets anymore. They waste 90% of their energy generating heat and have short lifespans. The warm glow alters clothing colors. Only use incandescents for specialty vintage fixtures.

LEDs are the clear winner for closet lighting. To make the most informed decision, compare lumens indicating brightness, estimated yearly energy cost, light appearance, and rated lifespan in hours.

Position Lighting Fixtures Strategically

Placement of lighting fixtures requires some forethought to sufficiently illuminate your whole closet. Follow these recommendations to highlight every area optimally.

Install Ceiling Lights

Overhead ceiling fixtures cast an even glow across the entire closet space. They eliminate shadows from the tops of shelving and hanging rods. Central ceiling lights also allow you to see the floor clearly to avoid tripping hazards.

For a small closet, one central ceiling fixture will suffice. Medium and large closets benefit from multiple ceiling lights. Space them equally to brighten every nook and cranny.

Include Wall Sconces

Installing wall sconces between shelving units or clothing rods provides directed task lighting. Point wall lights downward at an angle to highlight specific zones. This prevents the corner shadows created by overhead lights alone.

In a built-in closet, position sconces both vertically and horizontally depending on where you need additional illumination. Place vertical sconces next to floor-to-ceiling shelving. Arrange horizontal wall lights above shorter shelving units or racks.

Add Under Cabinet Lights

Under cabinet lighting contains glare under eye level. Opt for slim LED strips with a high color rendering index. This creates pleasant task lighting when picking out folded stacks.

Place LED strips along the underside perimeter of wall units or islands. Also install under cabinet lighting beneath any floating shelves for visibility.

Use Track Lighting Flexibly

Track lighting adapts as your closet layout changes over time. The adjustable spotlights can be pointed exactly where you want illumination most. Focus track lights over closet areas where you get ready, like mirrors and seating.

Stagger track heads to avoid shadows. Bounce the light off white ceilings for soft ambient fill. Track lighting works great as an accent to complement other fixture types.

Include Portable Lights

Free-standing portable lights like floor and table lamps allow fully customizable task lighting. Plug-in pendants and sconces give you maximum flexibility.

Use portable lamps to spot illuminate key zones like vanities. Position an architect lamp by the mirror for ideal visibility when applying makeup. Portable lighting comes in handy for rented or temporary spaces.

Light Dark Corners

Scan for any dark corners or shadowed areas not reached by existing lighting. Add an extra recessed can light, wall sconce, or floor lamp to target and brighten dead zones. Proper distribution prevents eye strain.

With the right layout, your clothing space will have comfortable, even illumination. Mix different kinds of lights at varied heights to cover all angles.

Create Different Lighting Zones and Levels

The way you utilize your closet space should inform strategic lighting zones. Follow these tips to set the perfect ambience for different activities.

Bright Light for Dressing Areas

You need the highest light level for mirrors and dressing zones to flawlessly style your look. Illuminate these areas with at least 50-100 foot-candles for ideal visibility.

Install powerful directional bulbs around mirrors for shadow-free grooming. Flank the mirror with matching sconces. Position overhead lights or track heads to rain down light evenly.

Provide adequate task lighting at seated dressing areas. Illuminate clothing racks and shelves in adjacent zones.

Medium Light for General Areas

In general hanging, shelf, and drawer storage zones aim for ambient light between 30-50 foot-candles. This facilitates scanning and sorting items.

Overhead ceiling fixtures work well for illuminating open floor areas. Under cabinet LEDs illuminate folded stacks. Boundary lights like wall sconces provide directional glow.

Low Light for Relaxation nooks

Reading nooks, sitting areas or conversation spots only need 10-30 foot-candles for relaxing. Dimmers allow you to turn fixtures down low to change the ambience.

Portable table and floor lamps with warm bulbs set a cozy mood. Wall sconces, pendants, and track heads focused away provide subtle background glow. Candle lighting also encourages peaceful downtime.

Vary the lighting levels depending on how you use each space for optimal visibility and comfort.

Choose Lights to Set the Right Ambience

The style of your lighting fixtures impacts the overall feeling in the closet. Select finishes and designs that create an inviting atmosphere.

Opt for Warm Finishes

Warm metal finishes like brass, bronze and gold exude a welcoming vibe. Avoid cold silver tones that feel too clinical for a dressing space.

If your closet features mostly cool-toned metals, inject warmth with portable lamps in wood, ceramic or glass. Add accents like a patterned rug and fresh flowers.

Pick Cohesive Fixtures

Choose closet lighting fixtures that work together aesthetically. Match metals and styles for a coherent look rather than mismatched.

Fixtures that blend with your decor help the closet feel like a seamless extension of the bedroom’s design. Maintain your decorating style through to the closet.

Incorporate Dimmer Switches

Installing dimmer switches allows you to set just the right ambience for any activity. Brighten up for outfit selection then dim for relaxation.

Choose dimmers rated for LED bulbs that work smoothly without flickering or buzzing. Programmable dimmers automatically adjust levels at certain times.

Highlight With Accessories

Accessorize your closet lighting with lamp shades, globes or Smart bulbs that shift colors. Update shades seasonally for a fresh feel.

Backlight shelving with LED strips to showcase favorite items and collections. Use picture lights to highlight meaningful photos or artworks.

With the right fixtures and finishes, your closet lighting can be both functional for tasks and beautiful for appreciating.

Lighting Tips for Specific Closet Spaces

Certain types of closets have additional lighting considerations. Apply these tips for illuminated spaces tailored to different functions.

Walk-in Wardrobe

For expansive walk-in closets, utilizecentral chandeliers plus multiple recessed ceiling lights to prevent shadows. Include cove lighting running underneath the crown molding.

Install a mixture of shielded spotlights and adjustable track heads. Place recessed wall washers to showcase accent walls or illuminated cabinets. Use toe-kick lighting to outline custom millwork.

Incorporate layers of ambient, task, and accent lighting on dimmers to transform the mood. Run LED strip lighting for a Nuance glow under floating shelves. Use pendant or sconce lighting to define individual zones like dressing areas.

Reach-in Closet

The confined space of a reach-in closet needs to maximize illumination. Recessed or flush mount ceiling fixtures work best for head clearance. For angled ceilings, use adjustable spots or directional heads.

Include under cabinet lights or LED strip lighting to clearly see items on shelves above eye level. Install a wall sconce next to the entryway on a dimmer to spotlight key areas when the door is open.

Walk-through Closet

For walk-through closets in high-traffic areas like hallways, choose shatterproof ceiling fixtures that can withstand bumps. Look for slim, low-profile linear lights.

Inset lights into cove or pockets in the ceiling instead of hanging exposed fixtures susceptible to hits. Include foot-level lighting to safely navigate through the dark.

Display Closet

Showcase a closet displaying collectibles with adjustable track lights or picture lights. Illuminate open shelving or lit cabinets housing your items.

Use accent strip lighting behind shelves as well as recessed lighting above. Install sconces to graze light across specialty displays. Employ lighting tricks like uplighting.

Closet With Laundry

Boost visibility for sorting clothes and folding in a closet laundry zone. Good overhead lighting prevents colors from blending together. Add task lighting over the folding counter.

Use moisture-resistant fixtures and LEDs offering high color accuracy. Install lights over the washer and dryer controls for easy access. Consider motion-activated lights that turn on when you enter.

Frequently Asked Questions About Closet Lighting

Many people have additional questions when selecting the ideal lighting plan for their closet space. Here are answers to some of the most common closet lighting concerns.

How many recessed lights should I install in an 8×8 foot closet?

For a 64 square foot closet, plan to install 4 to 6 recessed can lights evenly spaced. Position lights 2 feet from corners and boundaries with 4-5 feet between lights. Choose 5-inch or 6-inch cans with at least 600 lumens. Add other fixtures like sconces for layered lighting.

Should I put my closet lighting on a dimmer switch?

Absolutely. Installing dimmer switches allows you to control the ambience for different activities like dressing, relaxing or cleaning. Dimmers work well on overhead and accent lights. Choose dimmers compatible with LEDs and free of buzzing or flickering.

Where should I position lighting inside a closet?

Locate central overhead ceiling lights for ambient glow throughout the space. Add movable accent lamps for reading nooks. Install sconces on walls flanking clothing racks and mirrors. Under cabinet LED strips illuminate folded stacks. Position track heads over dressing zones.

How can I add lighting inside a closet without electrical work?

Self-contained battery powered lights offer convenient plug and play options. Good choices include rechargeable cabinet lights, puck lights with magnets or pull-tab adhesives, portable table or floor lamps, and battery-operated LED strip lights.

Should I install daylight or soft white bulbs in my closet?

Opt for soft white 2700-3000K light bulbs in the range of warm white to bright white. This light color interacts optimally with fabric shades to display colors accurately. Daylight or cool white bulbs over 5000K wash out skin tones.

How do I light a closet with no ceiling fixture?

Use versatile track lighting aligned over the rod and shelves on the ceiling or upper walls. Position sleek wall sconces to cast light inside the closet. Install rechargeable battery puck lights as makeshift recessed lighting. Plug in freestanding floor or table lamps.

How can I get light inside a closet with no windows?

Interior closets without windows or skylights need sufficient fixture lighting. Add multiple recessed ceiling lights with appropriate wattage for the size. Include wall sconces flanking racks and mirrors. Under cabinet LEDs illuminate folded items. Consider solar powered closet lights to mimic daylight.

What kind of lighting works best for displaying collectibles?

Showcase treasured items with directional track lighting or adjustable picture lights. Wall sconces and pendant lights provide appealing accent illumination. Install LED cabinet lighting or strip lighting to highlight displayed objects inside shelving.


The proper closet lighting designallows you to get ready in style. Evaluate your space, needs and activities before choosing fixtures and bulbs. Add controls like dimmers for total customization. Mix overhead, wall, and task lights at different intensities for a functional yet cozy ambiance. With strategic LED illumination in all the right places, your closet can become a well-lit sanctuary to enjoy.

How to Select the Right Lighting for Your Closet

Properly lighting your closet is essential for staying organized, picking outfits, and creating an inviting space. Follow this guide to choose the ideal bulbs, fixtures, placement, and style to illuminate your closet perfectly.

Key Factors to Consider for Closet Lighting

  • Size of closet – Measure the dimensions to determine necessary wattage. Small closets may need 100-300 watts while larger walk-ins can take 500+ watts.
  • Types of bulbs – LEDs are most energy-efficient and show colors accurately. Look for warm white 2700-3000K.
  • Position of fixtures – Overhead ceiling lights provide ambient glow. Sconces and under cabinet lights offer task lighting.
  • Different lighting zones – Use the brightest lights around mirrors and dressing areas. Medium light works for general storage. Add low lighting to lounges.
  • Ambience of fixtures – Opt for warm metal finishes. Install dimmers to control the mood. Accessorize with stylish lampshades.

Where to Place Lights in Your Closet

  • Ceiling – Central overhead lighting illuminates the full space. Recessed cans prevent shadows.
  • Walls – Sconces flanking shelves and rods offer directional glow.
  • Under cabinets – LED strips illuminate folded items and counters.
  • Track heads – Adjustable spotlights highlight key zones.
  • Portable lamps – Floor, table, and plug-in lights provide movable accent lighting.
  • Corners – Target dead areas with sconces, accent lamps or extra recessed lights.

Lighting Tips for Specific Closet Types

  • Walk-in wardrobes – Use central chandeliers plus multiple recessed and accent lights. Add cove lighting.
  • Reach-ins – Flush ceiling fixtures maximize headspace. Wall sconces by the door spotlight contents.
  • Pass-through closets – Low profile linear lights withstand bumps. Include foot-level illumination.
  • Display closets – Track lights and picture lights showcase collectibles in lit cabinets.
  • Closets with laundry – Task lighting aids folding. Use waterproof fixtures near machines.

Final Lighting Recommendations

  • Install dimmers to control ambience for different tasks.
  • Choose warm 2700-3000K bulbs so clothing colors appear natural.
  • Position lights at varied heights for well-distributed glow.
  • Select cohesive, attractive fixtures that match your decor.
  • Add portable lighting for maximum flexibility.
  • Calculate wattage and lumens needed for adequate visibility in the full space.

Proper closet lighting makes picking outfits effortless and keeps your space organized. Evaluate your layout, activities, and design aesthetic to come up with the optimal lighting plan. Mix overhead, wall and accent lights to illuminate every nook and corner brilliantly. With the right LED bulbs and fixtures in key areas, your closet can shine as a fully functional and inviting dressing sanctuary.