Upward Lighting Vs. Downward Lighting – The Lowdown

Upward and downward facing lights do what they say on the tin. Upward-facing lights direct light towards the ceiling, using either detachable shades, sconces or more concealed mechanisms.

On the flip side, downward-facing lights point light away from the ceiling and can help you draw attention to areas of the room. 

Task areas such as the kitchen work better with downward-facing lighting – pendant lights create a sharp statement look, for example. Some rooms need both of these forms of lighting, and some lighting can achieve both! 

Wall lights, ceiling lights, sconces, and even lamps can all function as either downward- or upward-facing lights. Knowing what you want for your room will help you hone in on what kind of lighting you select. 

Wall sconce

Should wall-mounted sconces face up or down?

The meaning of ‘sconce’ historically referred to a bracket that housed a candle. Since candles have been replaced, sconce now commonly refers to any bracketed wall unit that sheds light.  

Old-school sconces 

Traditional sconces are the kind that has an ornamental bracket that extends from the wall. These can help you achieve a vintage, more classic look. They can be adorned with stained glass, as is common with Tiffany style light shades, or simply have ornate brackets. If you have a retro design idea in mind, this might be your best bet.

Minimal sconces

Modern sconces can sit more flush to the wall and cast light that spreads across the wall. They also add more contemporary flourishes, such as a linear LED wall sconce or a flush wall light. These lights suit clean and minimal decor, providing an unfussy and smart finish to any room.

Think about the size of the room

Lighting a large room means you might opt for upward-facing lights. These will be more effective for diffusing light further. Downward-facing lights are suitable for lighting a smaller space. However, thinking about the function of the room should be foremost in any lighting design.

Pendant lights

Dining table lighting

The dining room can be a difficult place to light because it is, at times, a multi-purpose room. Selecting a blend between pendant ceiling lights and upward-facing wall lights might help you achieve this balance. Pendant lights direct light downwards and draw attention to the table, the main feature of the dining room. 

Wall lighting should complement whatever feature pendants you select. Being the dining room, you might also opt for a brighter, bluer hue for this room because eating in low lighting is never fun, right?

If your wiring supports it, choosing a dimmer switch might also help you transition between a warmer setting and brighter, more functional lighting.

Kitchen lighting

Kitchens are the epitome of task spaces. What is a task space? Well, a task space is any kind of room or area in which any kind of work is carried out. At home, this can range from the kitchen, as mentioned earlier, to the bathroom for preparing for the day. In these rooms, it is critical that you are able to spot detail, so more precision lighting is required. 

In your kitchen, spotlights are usually the way to go. These are often LED lights mounted into the ceiling and point downwards. However, you might also go for bright and versatile track lights. These combine the brightness and downward-facing nature of recessed spotlights but are directional and can be moved to cast light on whatever you need. If your kitchen has an island and you want to create a natural focal point for the room, there are also several wonderful options for lighting the centre of the room with purpose-built island lights.

Dining table pendant lights

​​Wall lighting ideas – living room

You can get quite creative when it comes to sitting room lights. Living room wall lighting ideas might include several different types of illumination. A blend of accent and ambient lighting methods are a great way to add warmth to one of the most relaxing rooms in the house. 

Wall sconces will help you create a sense of intimacy and cosiness in your living room. Your living room should be a relaxing and welcoming space, so opting for warmer hues will help you achieve this. 

Your wall lights should be placed around about 6 feet high and spaced around about 4 feet apart. This may prompt you to add some pieces to your room that will draw the eye as well! In the living room, wall mounted lighting isn’t the only way to create some fuzzy warmth. Our lamps can aid in creating some downward-facing light that adds to the welcoming conditions of the room!

Outdoor wall sconce

Outdoor lighting – up or down?

Indoors isn’t the only place where the upward lighting vs downward lighting debate takes place! Many houses have external design features such as porches and pillars. These areas are perfect attractive accents and eye-catching lighting designs. 

Outdoor lighting includes downward or upward mounts that cast light onto the feature areas on the exterior of your house. These might be mounted on pillars, in the recesses of a porch or even attached to a large section of wall. This kind of lighting will help break up big, bland spaces and, with the right light, adds to the character of your house.

Knowing the difference between upward lighting vs downward lighting is, to put it bluntly, not the be-all and end-all. There are many different factors that you need to take into account before choosing what is best for your space. Hopefully, with this whistle-stop tour, you feel much more confident in what kind of illumination your room needs!


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