Basement Lighting Design: Tips and Tricks to Create a Warm and Inviting Space

basement with recessed lighting and grey couches

Creating a well-lit basement can be as easy as flicking a switch. Whether your dream basement includes a relaxing home theatre, a private living area, or something else entirely, selecting the right lighting is important. Here are some bright basement lighting ideas to help you prepare for your basement renovation.

Choosing the right basement lighting

To create a basement that suits your needs, you will need to choose basement lighting that works with you, not against you. Not sure where to begin? Consider a few important factors before picking out your basement light fixtures.

Purpose of the basement

The first step is knowing how you would like to use the space. What would you like to do in your basement? What lighting would best facilitate it? For example, low ambient lighting is a great choice for home theatres or relaxation areas, but it won’t provide enough illumination for an art studio or home office. Once you know the purpose of your space, you can pick the best lighting for the job.

basement lighting with recessed lighting and scone lighting

Ceiling height and layout

The right basement lighting choices can ensure that no matter its size, height, or layout, your basement feels just right to you. Install semi-flush mount track lights to make a low-ceiling basement appear vast and spacious. Alternatively, take advantage of a higher ceiling with a stylish chandelier or pendant light that draws the eye upward and opens up the space.

living room basement lighting with hanging light, corner couch and tv

Personal style and preferences

Make your basement your own with lighting that shows off your space and your taste. For example, if you like the industrial look of your unfinished basement, then consider complementing it with industrial-style lighting. Check out the latest basement trends for basement lighting ideas that match your aesthetic.

bright basement with industrial style ceiling lighting

Energy efficiency

To brighten your space while consuming less energy, opt for LED or CFL bulbs over incandescent. Dimmers are another easy way to implement sustainability into any lighting you choose for your basement since you can adjust the intensity of the light however you like.

basement architectural ambient LED lighting behind tv and on shelves

Types of basement lighting

There are multiple types of lighting you can use to light up your basement. If you want to get the most out of your space, it’s important to know the difference and select your fixtures accordingly.

Ambient lighting

This kind of lighting is designed to fill your basement with a warm, inviting glow the moment you turn on the light switch. The point is to diffuse light throughout the entire room, instead of highlighting more focused spaces.

ambient basement lighting with grey couches and white walls

Task lighting

True to their name, task lights provide bright, focused light right where you need it most. Select these lights with your desired tasks in mind. This could look like pendant lights hung over the bar, reading lamps by the sofa, or spotlights illuminating a workspace from above.

basement with task lighting for eating area and desk

Accent lighting

Ideal for adding a personal touch to your basement, this type of lighting can be used to highlight unique features, accentuate built-in shelving, or set a particular mood. This could be as simple as underlighting your basement stairs or hanging a small fixture over your favourite artwork. Your imagination is the only limit!

basements with accent lighting on top of shelves, under handrail and behind decoration pieces

Popular basement lighting options

With so many options out there, making decisions about your basement lighting may feel like an overwhelming task. To help you choose the best lighting for your space, here are some of the most popular basement lighting options.

Recessed lighting

Recessed lights are a popular choice for basement lighting. They shine light down from the ceiling, where they are tucked out of the way. Several options are available, from smaller pot lights to bigger, more central ambient lights. Their focused light makes them a good pick for seating, dining, and crafts areas. They’re also a fan favourite for games rooms: they aren’t easily damaged by errant game props like ping pong balls.

basement recessed lighting with brown couch and grey carpets

Track lighting

These movable lights are attached to a sturdy metal or wire track and can be easily adjusted. They make excellent task lighting, as each track light can be swivelled to direct light where it is needed the most. A track of spotlights, for example, can brighten up a dark hallway or create a gallery-like effect for a collection of wall art.

basement with large painting and track lighting

Tray ceiling lighting

Unique architectural features like recessed ceilings (or tray ceilings) need a combination of ambient lighting solutions to create the perfect moody and relaxing atmosphere. Track and recessed lighting solutions are a good bet. With some strategic positioning, you’ll be able to both hide wiring and let gentle light filter down into your basement. Reach out to a skilled contractor if you want to build a soffit.

tray ceiling lighting basements with office space and living room space

Pendant lighting

If you’re looking to add a bit of elegance, then you’re in the right place. Pendant lights drop from the ceiling and can provide ambient, task, or accent lighting depending on the design. Try hanging one with a clear glass shade over a desk to add functionality and fashionable flair to your basement office.

basements with pendant lighting in front of painting


Struggling to express your style in a space with a higher ceiling? Think chandeliers! They hang from the ceiling like pendant lights and provide lighting from many smaller light sources. Try hanging one over a dining or game table for elegant task lighting that adds texture to your space.

basements with gold and black chandelier on top of sofa

Sconce lighting

Stylish, functional… What’s not to love? Sconces are attached to your basement walls and can be turned on and off with a switch. Point them toward the ceiling for moody lighting that’s perfect for your home theatre. Alternatively, point them downwards for task lighting on a table or desk. It’s a versatile option that can fit any décor style!

basements with scone lighting on top of couch

Floor lamps

Looking for flexibility in your lighting options ? Consider a floor lamp. These individual lights can be placed anywhere you like, as long as they can reach an outlet. They also let you direct light wherever you need it. They’re not only a practical basement lighting solution but also an affordable one. You can add a touch of style without breaking the bank.

Reading area in basement with chair and floor lamp

Table lamps

Table lamps are a great option for those who crave flexibility and cost-efficiency. They’re perfect for small spaces where floor lamps may not fit. If you’re working in your basement, a table lamp can provide adjustable task lighting. And, if you’re reading on the couch, it’s the perfect reading light. Consider adding one or two to your basement lighting plans.

table lamps in basement with white base

Choosing a light bulb

When it comes to basement lighting, there are plenty of light bulb options at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your choices! With the right bulbs, you can transform your space into a cozy, inviting escape. So go ahead, experiment and find the perfect fit for your basement’s unique style.

  • Incandescent. The original bulbs, incandescent lights produce a bright, warm light. They aren’t very energy efficient and are expensive for how long they last.
  • LED. These produce a lot of light while consuming very little energy. LEDs are available in many different styles and temperatures.
  • CFL. Known for their high light output, CFL bulbs are a great energy-efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs. But be warned: their bright white light can be quite harsh. Consider pairing them with soft, warm-toned lamps.
  • Halogen. If you’re looking for warm, energy-efficient lighting solutions, halogen bulbs are a great choice. Although they’re available in fewer styles than other types of bulbs, they are well suited to track lights and task lighting.

Further customization: Colour temperature and dimmers

Don’t forget to consider colour temperature. Warm lighting sheds a cozy, inviting glow that’s perfect for intimate areas like a basement bedroom. Use it for accent lights or lamps. For more vibrant light, opt for cool lighting. It gives off a bright white light that creates a more neutral atmosphere and is optimal for task lighting. It’s great for your basement bathroom or laundry room. 

Further customize your basement lighting by installing dimmers. They are the ultimate tool for flexibility – you can adjust the intensity of your lighting to fit your mood. If you already have dimmers installed in your basement, make sure you choose compatible light bulbs. For example, dimmers for LED lights aren’t compatible with other types of bulbs, and vice versa.

chart of colour temperature for lighting

DIY vs. Professional installation

If you’re handy around the house, you may be considering DIY installation for your basement lighting. This can be a good choice for less invasive kinds of lighting. For example, placing LED strip lights under each step is a DIY-friendly basement stairs lighting solution, and adding a new lamp is as easy as plugging it into a functioning outlet.

However, there are advantages to calling in a professional. As soon as you need to cut into your walls or relocate electrical wiring, it’s time to call in an electrician. If a full remodel is necessary, the expertise of a lighting designer can also be invaluable. Regardless of which direction you choose, it’s a good idea to plan out your basement lighting in advance.

Lighting safety considerations

Local building codes and regulations

While drafting your lighting plans, don’t forget to consider the Building Code requirements, particularly if you want to turn your basement into a rental apartment.

If your house is over five years old, Ontario’s Building Code requires your basement unit to meet the following lighting requirements:

  1. A light and switch in every room and space 
  2. A light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs

If you choose to create a secondary suite in your basement, the Electrical Safety Code requires a separate permit to do the work, which the Electrical Safety Authority will then need to inspect. For this, we recommend calling in a pro.

Avoiding common electrical hazards

Brightening up your basement can be a lot of fun but keep safety in mind. Here are some common electrical hazards to look out for.

  • Ignoring wattage. Check the light socket on your fixture to find the maximum wattage, and make sure your light bulbs don’t exceed that amount. 
  • Overloading outlets. With so many options for lamps and other plug-in fixtures, it can be easy to plug too much into one spot. It can cause your outlets to stop working, short-circuit, or even catch fire. 
  • Curious kids. If you have kids in the basement, protect them by investing in child-safety covers for your outlets. You can use plastic ones, or you can use child-safe wall plates that snap down over the outlets when they’re not in use.
  • Flood foresight. Be mindful if your basement is vulnerable to water infiltration. To avoid electrocution hazards, relocate your electrical components to an area less likely to be damaged by water. Also, take steps toward waterproofing your basement to mitigate the risk of flooding in the first place. 

There’s a lot of danger around electrical work in general. It’s best to call a contractor to assist. 

Proper maintenance and upkeep of basement lighting fixtures

Just as important as selecting the right lighting for your basement is maintaining it. Change light bulbs as they die, replace frayed cords, and don’t forget to dust your light fixtures. Also, keep an eye out for any sockets that stop working. If you don’t feel comfortable investigating a broken outlet yourself, don’t be shy to ask for help from a professional.

woman changing lightbulb in basement

Basement lighting FAQs

How do I create more natural light in the basement?

Notorious for having little to no natural light, you may find yourself craving sunlight in your basement. Here are some basement lighting ideas to help bring natural light into your space.


Sun tubes

Also known as light tubes or solar tubes, these large reflective tubes collect sunlight on the roof and send it down to your basement, creating natural ambient light. This is a cost-effective way to provide ambient light during the day and add natural light to spaces that need more vibrancy.


During the day, sunshine filtering in through a window creates a warm, inviting atmosphere that can’t be beat. Whether you’re changing existing windows or installing new ones, consulting with a contractor is the best way to go. And, of course, enhance the effect of your basement windows with décor and style choices that make your already bright basement even brighter.

Walkout basements

Walkout basements have at least one full wall exposed to the outside. Creating one requires excavation unless you’re on sloped terrain. Though it’s expensive and labour-intensive, a walkout basement can greatly improve the quality and intensity of natural light in your basement. 

Faux natural light windows

A cheeky solution for a lightless basement, these create a sunlight-adjacent ambience at a relatively low cost. You can buy premade ones or DIY them with a clever array of items from your local hardware store. While they won’t fool anyone into believing they’re real windows, it’s a cost-effective way to bring a little light – and a lot of fun – into your basement.

Is it difficult to retrofit recessed lighting into a basement?

It can be challenging to add recessed lights to a finished basement. If your dream basement is one with a constellation of pot lights, consider hiring a professional to install them. Track lights are a budget-friendly alternative, as they’re equally capable of shedding light over a large space and can be pointed in any direction you like.


What’s the best basement light fixture for a kitchenette?

Pendant or track lights above the counter provide ample illumination for food preparation and showcase your countertop materials. Under-cabinet lights are also a great option for brightening up dark areas with little natural light, ensuring your items don’t get lost in the shadows.


What do I do if I don’t have floor outlets for lamps?

If you have your heart set on adding floor lamps to your space, look for furniture with built-in outlets to increase the reach between your lamp and the nearest wall outlet. Alternatively, consider lighting that comes from above.


What are some lighting options for home theatres?

Wall sconces are a good idea – they won’t block your view of the screen or interfere with ceiling projectors the way hanging fixtures might. Alternatively, try track or tray lights for indirect mood lighting that avoids glare on your screen. Also, consider rope lighting or LED strip lights along the stairs if your theatre is outfitted with steps. And don’t forget a dimmer switch so you can turn down the lights at showtime!


Bright ideas for basement lighting

No matter what your plans are, a few thoughtful lighting choices can help you transform even the darkest basement into a bright, welcoming space fit for any of your desires. Hopefully, our basement lighting ideas have inspired you and left you feeling a little less in the dark about how to light up your space. 

Take your time, plan your budget, and find a little inspiration before getting started. When you’re ready to bring your basement lighting ideas to life, reach out to one of our Renovation Advisors and let us help you create the basement you’ve always wanted.

Lindsay Gow-Kateb is a freelance writer with a fierce love of language, music, and art. She began working in the world of writing and editing in 2020, after receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Passionate about creation of all kinds, she hopes to inspire others with her content and give them the tools they need to bring their home renovation dreams to life.