Closet Lights For The Rest Of Us: LED Lighted Closet Bars

We’ve all seen pictures of huge, boutique-style walk-in closets. You know the ones: with shoes, jewelry, ties, and cuff links on display so you can meet each day like you’ve just had a visit with a personal stylist. But I’ve had bedrooms smaller than some of these showpiece closets; they simply aren’t a reality for most people. That said, even if you don’t have a Narnia worth of wardrobe space (or the clothes to fill one), there’s one luxurious touch that most of these designer closets share that’s worth stealing for your own: built-in closet lights.

Why Bother With Closet Lights?

An image of a four-section closet illuminated with LED closet bars that highlight the color gradient of the clothing.
Struggle to distinguish between black, blue, and gray clothing in the dark? Good closet lighting can spare you a mismatched outfit (photo by Austin Bryant Moore)

Now, this might seem silly at first. If you have a standard one-hanger-deep closet with a closet bar, a door that closes, and maybe a shelf, you might not think you have anything in particular to spotlight. Where massive boutique closets illuminate organizers like storefront displays, putting lighting in a crowded closet might seem like it’ll only draw attention to the clutter. But closet lighting isn’t just for show. If you’ve ever had trouble telling the difference between your black and navy blazers on a gloomy morning, you know exactly why. Even shallow closets get dark, and that makes it hard to see the true colors of your clothing. That, in turn, makes it harder to put together outfits – and easy to forget what you have.

LED Lighted Closet Bars

An image of a lighted closet bar with a few items hung on it, photographed from a low angle to show the built-in LEDs.
Closet bars illuminate everything you hang on them from the top down, along the entire length of your closet

A little extra lighting can go a long way towards helping you keep better track of your wardrobe. After all, you’ll literally be shining a light on the clothes that you don’t reach for regularly. That means not only rediscovering old favorites, but also helping you downsize by drawing attention to the clothes you aren’t wearing. The best way to do this is shockingly simple, too: with a closet bar light. That is, a specialized closet bar with LED lights embedded all along the bottom edge of the bar, so they shine directly down on the clothes hung from it – along the entire length of the closet.

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Simple Installation

An image of a wall-length closet illuminated by lighted closet bars.
A lighted closet bar can help compensate for a small, crowded closet, shining light in dark corners and making it easier to see what you have to work with (by Stephane Vasco)

So how do they work? Honestly, like a combination lighting fixture and closet bar. To install one, you’ll need to do two things: secure mounting brackets to the wall to hold the bar in place, and hardwire a basic electrical connection on one end of the closet. Most are motion-activated, so the lights only turn on when you need them for better energy efficiency. The hardest part of the process is ensuring you have access to electrical wiring to connect it to. But since it only requires a single wire connection, it’s not hard to run the wire the distance needed to make the connection, or even string multiple fixtures together.

Putting Your Closet in The Best Light

An image of a small segment of a closet system with daylight white lighting.
If you wear a lot of dark blue, black, and gray, a lighted closet bar with a true white LED can make it easier to tell similar colors apart

That said, despite their straightforward design, there’s quite a bit of customizability in these lighted closet rods. They range in size from about 18 inches to over seven feet long, big enough for just about any size closet. Maybe more importantly, you can also choose the warmth and intensity of the light itself. Daylight-bright true-white lights will give you the most accurate color vision, while moody warm white lights create more of that dreamy boutique atmosphere. The look you want really depends on personal preference – and how bright a light you want to look at first thing in the morning!

Working With Closet Organizers

A close up image of a lighted closet bar from the top down.
Using shorter closet bars throughout a custom closet system will give the whole thing an inviting, professional finish

Basic closet organizers aren’t just a staple of big walk-in closets; they can also be a lifesaver when it comes to ensuring you’re utilizing a smaller closet as efficiently as possible. That said, closet organizers often mean assembling modular parts, which segment your space – good for keeping your stuff in order, but not so good for visibility. Specifically, lots of added shelves block top-down light, creating more dark corners for clothes to hide in. Installing multiple smaller closet bars can help immensely. Not only will they keep each individual section of clothing more visible, but they’ll help keep the whole closet from feeling steeped in shadow.

What If I Can’t Hard Wire The Light?

A wide angle image of a custom closet featuring multiple types of built-in closet lighting.
Mix and match different kinds of lighting to fully customize your closet – no matter how big or small

Now, lighted closet bars are all well and good, but if you don’t have the ability to connect that one wire, they’re no more useful than a basic wood rod. But even if electrical work is out of the question, you aren’t out of luck. Many DIY-friendly undercabinet lights also work well in a closet. Tape lights and plug-in spotlights in particular are easy to install, can cover wide distances, and are powered by a single cord that plugs into a standard outlet. Now, you won’t get light shining directly from the bottom of the bar onto your clothing, but you can get similar levels of light, and even have a little more ability to tailor them to the needs of your personal closet system.

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You don’t need a big boutique closet to enjoy the benefits of good closet lighting. Whether you want a simple lighted closet rod to see your clothing more clearly or additional lights to beautify your basic closet system, adding a little lighting is simple, affordable, and makes a bigger difference than you might think.

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