Photographed by Amy Bartlam.
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Paint plays its part, and scale and styling do, too. But nothing makes or breaks the look of a room like lighting. The best kind — that bright natural glow you get from the morning or midday sun — isn’t always easy to come by, however, so it pays to have a few pro lighting tricks (plus ample inspiration) in your decorating arsenal.

First, the basics. According to interior designer Michael Murphy, there are three types of lighting every room needs. Ambient light provides overall illumination the way a chandelier does. Task lighting will brighten areas designed to perform specific tasks (think: down lights over a kitchen island, sconces in a bathroom, or a desk lamp for reading). Accent lighting draws attention to specific design details, such as picture lights for artwork or spotlights directed at a fireplace.

With each, it’s also important to consider the size of the space you’re illuminating. To set the right mood in a larger living room, for instance, experts recommend at least three sources of ambient light. In small spaces, Murphy says you want to make sure to illuminate the corners of the room, a trick that will make your space appear larger and avoid the look of dark holes where illumination fades.

The last step in mapping out a good lighting plan: Knowing when to save and when to splurge. Budget-friendly lighting options include floor torchieres (where the light goes up) with a side light that can be used for tasks, according to Murphy. “Or a simple can light in the corners will work, too. You can find them at most big box stores or online for around $20," he shares.

When a splurge is in order, focus on public areas that use on a daily basis, like the living room and kitchen. “Investing in lighting pieces you see and use every day will give you the Marie Kondo experience, meaning they will ‘spark joy’ every time you see and use them,” Murphy says.

Want some creative lighting inspiration? Here are 30 ways to do it.