Lighting is one of the most transformative elements in interior design, yet it is often unknowingly treated like an afterthought. Anywhere you go ─ whether it’s a restaurant, a shop, a hotel or an art gallery ─ lighting is silently playing a huge part in how the place looks and feels. The entire ambiance can be controlled by the right lighting and your home lighting is no different!
Choosing the right lighting has more of an impact on the mood of a room than almost any other design element, yet it’s not always given enough consideration. It’s about more than just picking out a pretty lamp (though that’s definitely the fun part!) Knowing what types of lighting to use and where to use them will make all the difference. It can help make a space feel larger, cozier, festive, or romantic. Even if you need a space to suit different moods at different times, you can help control this with your choice of lighting.
It all starts with putting a game plan together.
A successful home lighting plan consists of three fundamental layers or types of lighting. By including each layer in a room, you can be sure that it is properly illuminated to create the look you want and draw the eye to its best features. In order for a lighting plan to work, it needs to be just that ─ a plan. Lighting plans can range from very simple to very complex, depending on what you’re looking for. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a headache!
Here is an easy breakdown of the three types of home lighting so you can use them to your advantage:
Types of Home Lighting
Layer 1: Ambient Lighting
Ambient lighting is the general, indirect lighting that evenly illuminates a room and gives it an overall glow, yet the source is inconspicuous. Some ways ambient lighting can be provided are:
- Natural light from windows or sky lights
- Overhead light fixtures
- Wall sconces
- Recessed ceiling lights
- Track lighting
Layer 2: Task Lighting
Task lighting focuses light on a work area so that you can perform specific tasks such as reading, crafts, cooking, or applying makeup. Fixtures that provide task lighting include:
- Reading lamps
- Desk lamps
- Under-cabinet lighting
- Vanity lights
- Directed track and recessed lighting
Layer 3: Accent Lighting
Accent lighting is used to highlight a specific object or part of a room, such as a work of art, a plant, the interior of glass-door cabinets, or an architectural feature. Some people refer to this as mood lighting. Examples of accent lighting include:
- Picture lights
- Can lights and uplights
- Niche lighting
- Chandeliers with dimmer switches
- Wall sconces with dimmer switches
- Lighting inside glass or wire door cabinets
- Track and recessed lighting
There are a few fixtures that are on more than one list. Wall sconces and chandeliers provide ambient light, but can also function as accent light when you use dimmer switches (which also help create a more relaxing or romantic mood). Track and recessed lighting work as all three types depending upon which way you direct them.
Here are a few things you need to think about before you make a lighting plan for a room:
- What type of mood do you want to set in the room?
- What tasks will be performed there?
- What do you want to highlight?
A well-lit room is not only functional, but also more warm and inviting. Take some time to plan things out first. By knowing the types of home lighting and how they function, it will help you to create a space that both looks and feels great.
Begin your home lighting plan by downloading the free Home Lighting worksheet.