Need some help deciding what type of lighting will work best in your home?
An effective way to maximize the appearance and functionality of any space is to light in layers. Multiple light sources help balance a room by minimizing glare and shadows, while adding depth and dimension. A light layering approach also improves a room’s versatility. A well thought out lighting plan better accommodates the many different activities that can take place.
Types of Lighting
Ambient Lighting – Ambient, or general, lighting is the most basic of the four types. It provides an area with overall illumination – a comfortable level of brightness without glare. Ambient lighting can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mount fixtures, track or recessed lights, and even table and floor lamps. Having a central source of ambient light in all rooms is fundamental to a good lighting plan. It’s the base upon which you add all other layers of lighting.
Task Lighting – Task lighting adds brightness to areas of a room where daily activities – like reading, studying, cooking or applying makeup – are performed. To enhance visual clarity and prevent eyestrain, effective task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows. It can be achieved by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting, and under cabinet lighting, as well as vanity lights and floor, table, and desk lamps.
Accent Lighting – Accent, or directional, lighting is typically used to highlight certain objects or architectural features, such houseplants, paintings, sculptures, a decorative range hood or carved cabinet doors. It should always be about three times the general illumination level. Accent lighting should never be the focal point. In fact, it’s meant to work without being seen. Accent lighting can be provided by recessed and track lighting, chandeliers with dimmer switches, over- and under cabinet lighting, and wall sconces.
Decorative Lighting – Lighting itself can be a work of art. With today’s many choices in glass, fabric, finishes and profiles, decorative lighting has a style all its own and can lend that style to your room. In fact, you can change the whole feel of a space – from modern to classic – just by adding this decorative touch. Keep in mind, however, that decorative lighting should be used along with other lighting types for improved functionality.