ceiling lights, Chandeliers, Decoration, Design colors, Design trends, lighting, Lights, Living Room, Modern Design, Wall Art

How to Light Artwork in Your Home

Dining room table, two lamps and a painting

Artwork has a huge role in interior design but so does lighting. Carefully selected pieces of art can make your living space even more stunning but only if properly lit. Shadows, glare and uneven lighting can reduce the beauty of your artwork, and that is something every art lover wants to avoid. Employing the best lighting methods will make your art stand out and shine. Read on and learn how to light artwork in your home and make it look its very best.

A table lamp and a poorly lit painting on a wall

Beautiful pieces can be unnoticed due to bad lighting


The lighting should fit your home’s style

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to lighting artwork in your home. One of the most important things to take into consideration is the environment and the artwork itself. For example, a track light or spotlight solution works better in contemporary settings while picture lights work better in traditional-style rooms.

Pay attention to positioning

The positioning of light and artwork is very important. The positioning of light can completely change the way a sculpture/painting looks, for the better or worse. When it comes to sculpture and 3D artwork, the role of light is crucial. Since light and shadow can emphasize the form of a sculpture, its look depends heavily on the way it is illuminated.

Direct natural light is not recommendable

Proper positioning not only enhances its beauty but also protects art from damage. Indirect light is fine, but your art should not be getting any direct natural light. As harmful rays can damage the delicate pigments in artworks, we suggest displaying your wall art on a wall that is not directly exposed to daylight. If light travels directly from a window to the canvas, your artwork might gradually fade. Direct natural light damages not only artwork but also flooring and furniture.

A room with large windows and wall art

The surface of your art should not be directly facing sunlight


Pay attention to framing

When framing your artwork, you need to keep the type of surface and lighting in mind. If a work of art is behind glass, carefully adjust the angle of light to reduce glare. Also, ask your framer if they offer non-glare glass. By using non-glare museum glass instead of regular glass, you will avoid those distracting reflections and cut harmful UV light.  If a piece has texture, which is the case with oil or acrylic paintings, you can play with the shadows, emphasizing or minimizing them to your liking. For ceiling or wall-mounted lights, use thinner frames or no frame at all. If you go for picture lights, pick a strong frame that can support the light fixture.

Choose the right kind of artificial light

Artificial light can do wonders for your artwork when used properly. You need to make the right choices, though. Bright, white artificial light is not the best option. We recommend using bulbs that replicate daylight rather than fluorescent ones. Opt for full-spectrum bulbs which come in various shapes and bases.

You can use table lamps, floor lamps, sconces, chandeliers, or other fixtures to light artwork in your home. Beautiful crystal lamps, hand-blown glass lamps and crystal chandeliers not only enhance the beauty of your artworks but they can also be considered pieces of art themselves.

A picture of a lama and a light fixture

Use the right kind of artificial light to light artwork in your home


Types of lighting you can use to light artwork in your home

Picture lights

Picture lights are perfect for smaller works and intimate displays. They draw the viewer’s eye directly to the details of a piece inviting them to come closer. The lights are mounted on the wall or the frames of individual pieces putting the light source very close to the piece. You should keep the light as dim as possible in order to protect your artwork. Picture lights typically use low-wattage bulbs. This type of lighting is great for renters. There is no need for cutting holes in the ceiling or any major changes – you just need outlets for picture lights with cords. When it’s time to move home, just call Grunts Move Junk and Moving Massachusetts and have them take care of your art.

Ceiling-mounted lights

Ceiling-mounted accent lighting also allows you to direct light to individual pieces. Since ceiling fixtures can be recessed or surface-mounted, you can control the direction of light. You can also cover most of your artwork in light, not just a small portion of it.

The angle to which you light a piece of art can make a huge difference. When placing ceiling-mounted lights, adjust the fixture to a 30-degree angle. Adjusting it at 10 degrees creates really long shadows below the picture frame since the light is pointing almost straight down. On the other hand, adjusting at 45 degrees means the light beams hit the artwork too directly, which may create reflective glare.

Track lights

This type of lighting is best for constantly changing displays. As we mentioned earlier, track lights will give your home a modern look. Having evolved over time, today’s track lights have a cleaner, more minimalist look compared to the past decades. They are similar to ceiling-mounted accent lights but with a few extra advantages. For instance, you can install, move, and take off track lighting more easily than ceiling-mounted lighting.

A museum with track lighting fixtures you can also use to light artwork in your home

A museum with track lighting fixtures you can also use to light artwork in your home


Wall washers

Wall washers are a more casual way of lighting art in your home. They allow a wide distribution of light and come in various forms, such as surface-mounted, recessed, and track-mounted fixtures. You can place these fixtures on ceilings, walls or floors. Wall washers are a great choice if you wish to create a stunning gallery wall. Since the entire wall is lit evenly, you can move, add and remove wall art without having to adjust a thing.

guest author


Author bio:

Grace Michaels is a part-time blogger and a full-time mom. She has been writing for American moving and storage companies for five years. When she’s not writing or spending time with her two girls, she likes to read interior design magazines, play soccer and volleyball.


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