How to Choose the Right Lighting for Your Closet

Posted: May 19, 2023
7 min. read
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Good lighting is a must-have in any closet. When done properly, the right type of light can help illuminate unlit corners for better accessibility, showcase treasured pieces in your wardrobe, and transform your closet into an elegant haven.

Here’s what you should consider when selecting the best lighting for your closet—and how you can incorporate different types of lights to enhance Closets by Liberty™ organizational systems.

Oval mirror and chair inside walk-in closet
Photo courtesy of @casawatkinsblog

How Many Lumens Does a Closet Need?

In LED lighting, lumens (lm) measure the brightness of a lightbulb. To estimate the number of lumens your space will need, you’ll have to do some math:

Your room square footage x Your room foot-candle requirement (i.e. how bright a light is one-foot away from its source) = Needed lumens

We calculated the estimates for you to give your brain a break. Use this guide to help determine how many lumens your closet will need.

Closet Lighting Guide

Closet Size (sq. ft.) Foot-Candles Brightness (lm)*
(4-ft & 6-ft systems)
12-25 5-10 60-250
(8-ft system)
30-80 10-15 300-1,200
(10-ft system)
100-150 15-20 1,500-3,000
*You can use multiple bulbs and fixtures to reach the total lumens needed.

Popular Closet Lighting Options

LED vs. Fluorescent

LED and fluorescent bulbs are both popular choices for closet lighting because they provide better energy efficiency than their traditional incandescent counterpart. But when compared to fluorescent lights, LED bulbs are brighter, have a longer lifespan, and are less hazardous to dispose of than mercury-containing lights. 

Another advantage of LED lights is their ability to imitate the flattering warm glow of incandescent bulbs, which prevents colors from looking washed out. 

LED bulbs may cost more upfront, but the energy savings, lighting aesthetic and other benefits make them well worth the investment.

Wired vs. Wireless Lighting

When it comes to closet lighting control, you can choose from wired or wireless systems. If you can’t or don’t want to cut into ceilings and walls to install new closet lighting, you can go wireless—no electrical hardwiring required. Without in-wall wiring, wireless lights offer the flexibility to scale and customize your closeting lighting with ease. You can opt for battery-powered or rechargeable options depending on their usage.

Motion Sensor Lighting vs. Manual Lighting

Motion sensor closet lights can help you conserve power and save on your electric bill. They turn on when you actually need them and turn off when you’re no longer in the room, providing added convenience to your dressing routine. 

Best Lighting for Reach-In Closets

Discover what lighting types are best for small or average-sized closets. Popular among a majority of homeowners, these lights are perfect for illuminating 3-foot, 4-foot, 5-foot, and 6-foot closet systems.

LED Strip Lighting

Strip lights are flexible cords of tiny LED lights that have an adhesive backing to attach to walls. Their compact design makes them perfect for small, dark spaces. Infinitely customizable, you can cut them to any length and add them above closet rods in our 4-Foot Extra Hanging system, under every shelf in our 4-Foot Extra Shelving system, or along the panels in our 6-Foot Traditional system to illuminate your wardrobe sections.

led strip light
LED strip lights from Kichler

LED Puck Lights

Puck lights are a small, low-profile round or oval LED light that delivers centric, directional lighting. When installed under shelves or along the sides of your closet system, it makes a great accent light that’ll cast a spotlight on your favorite shoes, bags, and folded clothing. Some puck lights are dimmable to create different moods and ambiance in your closet. 

puck light
LED puck light from Kichler

Best Lighting for Standard & Walk-In Closets

Explore closet lighting that works best in average-sized and large closets. Ideal for large spaces, these types of lights will instantly brighten 8-foot, 9-foot, 10-foot, and 11-foot closet systems.

Recessed Lights

Hardwired and installed directly inside a ceiling, wall, or other surface, recessed fixtures take up very little space. Their unobtrusive design is perfect in a standard closet or walk-in closet because there’s no risk of hitting the recessed lights when putting your clothes away. 

A few tips: Install a series of smaller low-watt fixtures instead of a few high-powered ones to enjoy a wide coverage, and be sure to space them evenly across the ceiling for uniform illumination. And keep in mind, you must ensure a minimum distance of 6 inches between the fixture and clothing being stored to meet fire-safety protocol.

recessed light
Recessed light from Kichler

Track Lights

A track lighting system mounts individual light bulbs on a metal rail. This gives you full customization of your closet’s lighting to your preferences. You can position the lights to spotlight specific trouble spots in your closet such as dark areas so you can always tell navy and black apart. Track lighting is widely found in walk-in closets that’ll use the 10-Foot Extra Hanging system, 10-Foot Extra Shelving system or 11-Foot Extra Drawers system because larger closets typically have ample ceiling clearance to avoid a fire hazard.

track light
Track light

Chandeliers and Pendant Lights

Chandeliers and pendant lights are artwork in their own right. These statement pieces look absolutely stunning in any walk-in closet with their whimsical yet sophisticated appeal. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors so you can design a luxurious closet space. For a standard closet that’ll fit the 8-Foot Traditional system, opt for a flush mount chandelier or pendant light to maximize every inch.

chandelier hanging in walk-in closet
Photo courtesy of @sandramorganliving

Illuminate a Closets by Liberty™ System

Thoughtful lighting design makes all the difference when showcasing your wardrobe. From reach-ins to walk-ins, Closets by Liberty™ organizational systems can be customized with lighting that delivers useful illumination and a mesmerizing display worthy of high fashion boutiques. Start shopping for your perfect system today. 

For more inspiration, see how Hartley Home upgraded her lighting here.

walk-in closet
Photo courtesy of @hartley_home

Don’t forget to browse indoor lighting options by our sister brand, Kichler, as you begin your project. Read their blog to discover more closet lighting tips.