Light in the home – hidden lighting

Spring has officially sprung. With Easter efficiently done and dusted before April and the clocks going forward, we’re on our way to lovely long days of (fingers crossed) sunshine. Even with the most gloriously sunny days, our homes all need a helping hand and that’s where the rest of this mini series comes in. Having covered natural light last week, we now look to artificial lighting. As we will see, light in the home is not all about function and practicality. Sure, it’s key to the prevention of bumping into stuff in the dark but it’s also about design – creating shapes, moods and interesting features.

So, onto one of my favourites – hidden lighting. Sometimes it’s all about the light itself and not about the fitting. Hidden lighting can be a bold design statement in its own right or a subtle hint to highlight another design feature. It’s such a simple tool that will seriously up your interiors game. We’re talking next level. Onwards to chapter two…

Featured image from mckimm residential design via Houzz

Chapter 2 – hidden lighting

Now and again you find a room that is so damn beautiful in its own right before you’ve even put anything in it. Perhaps it’s the shape, perhaps it’s some inherent feature of the building, perhaps its the way the sun hits the colour of the walls in the morning. In some ways, a room like this can be a design minefield as you want to make the most of what you have and achieve the room’s full potential but also don’t want to mess with the natural beauty of the space.

This is where hidden lighting can work its magic. A floating ceiling conceals ambient lighting without adding anything to fight with other features of the room. This also works well for low ceilings where pendant lights are not an option.

A sleek panel conceals overhead lighting to create a double sided glow of hidden light. This illuminates the room but allows the rustic wood beams and natural shape of the eaves do all the talking in this barn conversion by Studio Mark Ruthven.

Hidden lighting can also be used as accent lighting to subtly highlight interesting features in a room or simply to create a softer lighting level for the evening. The example below features a softly lit ledge behind the bed creating a soft glow that is perfect for winding down. Either use this with existing lamps and/or wall lights, or replace them altogether if you’re after a very clean, minimal look. It’s also a great option if space is tight and you have little room for lamps and light fittings.

A concealed LED strip behind the bed provides soft lighting for the evening without the glare, by Carlson Stenner Architects.

When it comes to statement lighting, why should we let chandeliers have all the fun? Just because there isn’t a physical light fitting to look at, doesn’t mean hidden lighting can’t make an impact. Illuminate unexpected areas and points of interest in your home to transform a space from day to night. Just look at these stairs. Forget wow-factor, let’s go for ‘holy crap, your house is amazing’ factor.

The lighting strips on either side of this staircase give it an almost ethereal quality, image by Martin Gardner Photography
Image from Roundhouse

One of the most visually impressive ways to use hidden lighting is to create an effect. The stairs in the image above with the lights off would look unassuming and quietly elegant. However, with the lights on, it practically comes alive with the glow seemingly emerging from beneath. Light can be used to highlight differences in levels, textures and angles. Floor standing pieces such as beds and kitchen islands as shown here can be given the effect of floating using a cheeky lighting strip.

Hidden lighting can also help to light up shadowy corners, dark nooks and otherwise dull areas. Brightening up unusual areas draws the eye and gives them room a lift. Think of it as the Touche Éclat of interiors, if you will.

Contemporary kitchen in an Islington basement conversion by Matteo Bianchi Studio

Plinths, shelves and ceilings can all benefit from this sneaky trick but feel free to think outside the box. The breakfast bar counter in this super smart kitchen has been lit from underneath, subtly warming up the area and drawing attention to the design. It also serves as accent lighting in the open plan space and low level ambient lighting in the evening. That’s some hard working lights!

This type of lighting gives a lot of freedom to play with light and shadow, which means you can transform the way a space looks and feels with just the flick of a switch. Combined with a dimmer switch, the possibilities are endless!

Get in loser, we’re going shopping


LED flexi light strip
Essential hidden lighting product that’s as versatile as potato waffles. Just make sure you can’t see it or any cables and you’re onto a winner. It’s pretty inexpensive and the LED bulbs mean it’ll last for aaaaages and won’t get hot. This one is from Astro Lighting but you can get these from most electrical suppliers, lighting shops or online. Alternatively, get your electrician to supply it.

LED Flexi light strip from Astro Lighting


Recessed plastered-in wall lights
Not exactly hidden but very discreet, Astro Lighting‘s range of Borgo Trimless wall lights can be plastered in so they are barely visible. Perfect for floor level lighting and some products are suitable for bathrooms. See website for stockists.

Borgo trimless wall light from Astro Lighting



Floor uplighters
If you’re not undergoing renovation work, you can still introduce some hidden lighting using floor uplighters. Take the John Lewis Didi uplighter. Hidden behind furniture or concealed by a pot plant, this directional table lamp is a great way to introduce some low level illumination without having to commit to chiseling out channels in your walls or furniture.

John Lewis Didi table uplighter in graphite, £35.00


Astro Lighting also have their Limina and Marasino floor lights that are made of plaster which means they can be painted to match your walls or furniture for even more ninja-like camouflage qualities. See website for stockists.

Limina plaster floor light from Astro Lighting

Liked this blog? Leave me a comment! And if you missed it, here’s chapter 1 on natural light.

J x

Read on: Chapter 3 – statement lighting

5 Replies to “Light in the home – hidden lighting”

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