How to Choose Recessed Lighting for Walk in Closet


Choosing the right lighting for your walk-in closet is a crucial part of interior design that often goes overlooked.

It does more than just illuminate your clothes; it enhances the functionality of the space and brings a certain aesthetic appeal that can significantly impact your daily routine.

Among the many types of lighting, recessed lighting comes as a popular and space-efficient choice for many homeowners.

This type of lighting fits into the ceiling, resulting in a sleek, uncluttered look perfect for compact spaces like walk-in closets.

But it’s not just about saving space – the right lighting can transform your closet into a stylish and functional space, making choosing your outfits a pleasure rather than a chore.

In the following sections, we will delve into how to choose the best-recessed lighting for your walk-in closet and how it can impact both functionality and aesthetics.

II. Understanding the Space

Assessing the Size and Layout of the Walk-In Closet

Importance of Accurate Measurements

Just like you, I once overlooked the importance of accurate measurements. I vividly remember purchasing beautiful recessed lights for my walk-in closet, only to realize they were too big for the space.

It was a real ‘facepalm’ moment, and I learned the hard way that measurements are not to be taken lightly.

The key to avoiding such mishaps is simple: always measure your space before buying any lighting. The size of your closet will dictate the size and number of recessed lights you’ll need.

Considering the Ceiling Height

And speaking of size, let’s not forget about the height of the ceiling. Years ago, I had high ceilings in my old house, which meant I needed more powerful lights to illuminate my closet adequately.

The higher the ceiling, the more lumens your light source should emit to sufficiently brighten the space.

On the other hand, if your ceilings are low, less powerful lights will suffice. So, remember to keep an eye on the height – or rather, a measuring tape!

Lighting Requirements

Illuminating the Entire Closet Space

I’ve learned through experience that closets aren’t just for storing clothes. They’re also dressing rooms, and as such, they deserve the same lighting attention as other key areas in your home.

Good general light is crucial. I recall my old closet from my previous home. It had a single light bulb in the center, casting long, creepy shadows, making it difficult for me to find items.

It’s a mistake I’ll never repeat. I recommend installing evenly distributed, bright lights that will illuminate the entire closet space and facilitate easy access to your items.

Avoiding Shadows and Dark Corners

Nobody likes lurking shadows in their closets, right? Well, I’ve had my fair share of dark corners, and it’s always a struggle.

Searching for items turns into a mini treasure hunt. To avoid this, make sure your lighting design eliminates dark corners.

Consider planning for fixtures in places where your single central light won’t reach. I learned the importance of this when I installed additional spotlights in my current closet, which helped banish those pesky dark corners.

Task Lighting Considerations

Lighting for Clothing Selection

Choosing the right outfit can be tough, but imagine doing it under poor lighting—it’s a nightmare, trust me.

Before I revamped my closet lighting, I often walked out the door only to realize my navy blue socks were black!

Task lighting is critical to prevent such fashion mishaps. A dedicated light source above your clothing rods or open shelves makes color differentiation and selection a breeze.

Focused Lighting for Accessories and Details

Lastly, let’s talk about our precious accessories. These small items often get lost in the shuffle, from ties to belts to jewelry.

I consider the installation of focused lighting for accessories one of my greatest closet successes. I added small LED lights inside my accessory drawers, and let me tell you, it’s a game changer.

Not only do I enjoy a clear view of my accessories, but it also adds a lovely touch to my closet decor. So, don’t forget to illuminate your accessories—they’re the details that complete your look.

Types of Recessed Lighting

When I first decided to upgrade my closet lighting, I was faced with a plethora of choices.

Let’s delve into the two main factors you need to consider, starting with the types of light and then moving onto trim styles and finishes.

LED vs. Halogen vs. Incandescent

  • Energy efficiency and lifespan

From my experience, the first consideration when choosing your lights is the type: LED, halogen, or incandescent.

I chose LEDs for my closet because, compared to halogen and incandescent, they are incredibly energy-efficient and long-lasting.

They might be more expensive upfront, but trust me, the decreased costs in your energy bills and the longevity of the lightbulbs definitely pay off in the long run.

  • Color temperature considerations

Color temperature is another vital aspect to consider, as it can affect how accurately you see colors. This was a big deal for me.

I once mistakenly wore a purple shirt to a meeting thinking it was blue, thanks to the poor light in my old closet.

I later learned that LEDs offer a wider range of color temperatures, while halogens and incandescents have a warmer and more limited color spectrum.

Trim styles and finishes

  • Choosing between baffle, reflector, and open trims

Choosing the right trim for your recessed lighting is all about your needs and aesthetic preferences.

I was tempted by open trims because of their versatility, but ended up choosing baffle trims for my closet.

The ridged interior helped reduce the glare, making it easier to differentiate between my dark-colored clothes.

  • Matching trim finishes with closet design

The finish of your trim should complement your closet design. This can make or break the overall look of your closet.

I ended up selecting a brushed chrome finish, which perfectly matched my sleek and modern closet design.

Remember, your closet is an extension of your personal style, so choose a finish that you love and that ties in with your overall aesthetic.

Placement and Spacing

Strategically positioning recessed lights

  • Evenly distributing lights for uniform brightness

It’s crucial to evenly distribute your recessed lights for a uniform brightness. I once visited a friend who had their lights clustered in one area, making the other side of the closet dark and hard to navigate.

After that experience, I made sure to space my lights across the closet, ensuring an even spread of light. This made a huge difference in visibility.

  • Avoiding over-illumination or under-illumination

Balancing your light levels is key to avoid over-illumination or under-illumination. Over-illumination can make your closet uncomfortably bright and may even cause a glare on shiny objects.

On the flip side, under-illumination can make it difficult to see and differentiate items, particularly if they’re closely colored.

I found a professional light plan helpful to strike the right balance, taking the guesswork out of the equation.

Considering the closet zones

  • Light placement for hanging areas

For hanging areas, careful light placement is essential. I remember squinting at my dark hanging area, trying to tell apart my black jeans from my navy ones.

To avoid such fashion missteps, I placed lights directly above the rods, illuminating my clothes better and making morning wardrobe selection easier.

  • Special considerations for shelving and storage zones

Shelving and storage zones may require a different approach. For instance, I have a shelf of colorful ties that I’m particularly proud of.

I wanted them to be prominently visible, so I installed a spotlight to throw focus on this area.

Similarly, for my shoe rack at the bottom of my closet, I placed a few lights closer to the floor level.

It’s all about your specific needs and setting the light in a way that works best for you.


To wrap up, it’s clear that choosing the right recessed lighting for a walk-in closet is no small matter.

The importance of light placement, the balance between over and under-illumination, and the consideration of different closet zones all play crucial roles in this process.

I’ve learned that this is not just about filling a room with light; it’s about strategically placing that light to maximize visibility and aesthetics.

From my personal experience, well-chosen lighting can dramatically transform the overall closet experience. It’s not just about being able to see your clothes; it’s about creating an inviting space that makes choosing an outfit an enjoyable part of your day.

The difference in my mornings before and after my lighting makeover is like night and day – no pun intended. I no longer struggle with distinguishing the dark shades of my clothes or squinting at the shelves to find the right tie.

But remember, there’s no rush. Choosing the right recessed lighting for your closet is something you want to get right the first time.

So, take your time to plan, experiment, and find what works best for your closet. It’s an investment in not just your closet but also your daily routine and personal style.

In the end, the goal is to create a closet that’s not just functional but also a place that you love. Trust me, the effort you put into this will definitely pay off in the long run. So, why wait? Start planning your perfect closet lighting today!

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