Ambient Lighting, Task Lighting and Accent Lighting
Lighting creates ambience and makes a room welcoming. Good lighting enables activity, enhances colour, and gives a room a sense of warmth and life. Lighting can fill a dark corner, lift a low ceiling, camouflage a dark angle, or brighten up a gloomy room. We are always seeking balance, so we don’t want to over-light or under-light any area. Light fixtures also bring fun and fashion to a space. One of the keys to creating a comfortable and flexible room is to layer the lighting. There are three kinds of lighting to consider. Use a mix ambient, task, and accent lighting to delineate different zones. Choose light fixtures and lamps that add character to your decor.
Begin with the ambient lighting or general lighting that just makes the room visible. Ambient light is the basic lighting layer, illuminating walls, open areas, and main pieces of furniture so that you can navigate the space with ease. For instance ambient lighting in a living room is very important because the room is often occupied by more than one person. Hanging ceiling fixtures offers the broad wash of diffused illumination required for soft, general lighting. Ambient light can be direct, bounced off a wall, or diffused through a shade to warm up the quality of the light. Select your style:
- Torchières are uplights that emit a soft, even wash of light, their beam bounces from the ceiling before angling down.
- Recessed downlights are built into the ceiling and have a reflective lining.
- Pendants hang from the ceiling. They come in different shapes and styles that can add another decorative element to a room.
- Suspended uplights are ceiling-mounted fixtures that cast light upward and give an even glow.
- Wall-mounted uplights or sconces cast a diffused glow and are wise choices for pale-coloured rooms or reflective wall finishes.
After, consider the task lights you’ll need for you and your family to read, work, or play. Task lighting is focused light that illuminates a specific activity. Available in a vast number of styles, task lamps offer both direct illumination and great design flexibility because you can often change their style and the effects of their light with different shades or positioning. Place a wall sconces behind the sofa to facilitate reading, or use a swing-arm table lamp on a side or parson’s table. Most bedrooms require effective task lighting next to the bed as well as in reading corners, at vanities, and on work surfaces. Select your style:
- Table lamps with three-way bulbs allow for adjustable levels of light. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and wattages.
- Swing-arm lamps have adjustable arms that allow the light to be swung into position, perfect at the bedside.
- Sconces attach directly to the wall and can offer useful supplementary lighting.
- Floor lamps are freestanding and may be adjustable in height.
- Desk lamps focus a bright, downward beam of light with high level of illumination.
- Closet lights come in options such as hard-wired, low-voltage, or battery-operated.
Accent lights are specific and attention-grabbing. They are used to set mood, draw focus, or add sparkle. larger accent lights like wall washers impart a soft, colourful glow; spotlights can draw attention to favourite artwork or emphasise a focal wall; candles create a sense of movement and cast dramatic shadows. Often, it can be a beautiful decorative accessory on its own. Use accent lighting to spotlight a photo, collection, or display. Place accent lights in bookcase shelves or on a long mantel for subtle illumination. Select your style:
- Picture lights perch over artwork to illuminate it. They are usually low wattage to minimise glare off reflective surfaces.
- Track lights can be aimed to highlight architectural details and favourite objects.
- Mini-chandeliers hang from the ceiling and add sparkle.
- Candles fill a room with warmth and animation; they can add colour and scent as well.
- Night lights are very low wattage and offer illumination by which to navigate or sleep.
- Beaded-shade lamps change the quality of light, tinting it with jewel tones.
Lighting Every Room
- Foyers, halls and stairways: size the decorative fixture to the space. If the fixture can be viewed from another room, be sure to select a fixture which look attractive. Stairways and halls must have good general lighting for safety.
- Bedroom area: gently filtered and flattering light in a bedroom creates a sense of calm and repose. The placement and intensity of lighting affects a space’s atmosphere, making it cozy or cool, dramatic or cheerful. The right level of light in a bedroom is entirely personal, it should be flexible enough to let you read, work and relax comfortably. Consider first the ambient lighting or general lighting, it is the light cast by overhead fixtures, whether recessed and largely invisible (as in most modern houses) or pendant and decorative (as in older homes).
- Living area: recessed lighting is one of the best ways to light a general area because the light source is concealed. One of the most immediate ways to bring graciousness to a room is by implementing a well-designed lighting plan. By providing multiple sources, both an inviting wash of ambient light and a variety of task and accent lights, you establish the living room a place where all will feel at home. Individual lamps create an intimate feeling. Commonly used as sources for task-specific lighting, floor, table, and wall lamps and their shades can transform the mood of the room. Think of lamp shades as fashion accessories. translucent shades, such as those made of natural parchment, silk, handmade paper, or linen, softly diffuse light; opaque and semi-opaque shades alter the direction of light and focus the beam up or down. Candles are infinitely useful for adding drama, warmth, and sparkle to a space. Aromatic candles infuse a space with long-lasting scent.
- Dining area: a chandelier or pendant can be a general lighting element, as well as a focal point of your home. A chandelier should be 6″ to 12″ smaller than the narrowest side of the table and the bottom of a pendant or chandelier should be approximately 30″ above a table. Recessed wall washers can provide additional light while helping to create an illusion of a larger room space.
- Kitchen area: decorative fluorescent fixture mounted in the centre of a work space is a common choice but as energy efficient as they are, fluorescent bulbs cast a cold white light that makes people look ghostly. Cooking and food preparation require good lighting, you’ll make the kitchen a much more attractive place to be by replacing fluorescent lights with incandescent or halogen lighting. Down lights mounted 18” off the edge of the cabinets, and spaced 3” or 4” on centres is an excellent way to create additional general lighting.
- Bathroom area and vanity lighting: a good lighting plan begins at the vanity, and proceed from there. Use both side and top lighting, surround the mirror with clear, soft light to avoid shadows and glare on your face. For a nice, ambient radiance, think about indirect lighting, which usually recesses the light source in an over-head cove. Areas over 100 square feet require several recessed down lights or decorative surface mounted fixtures. It’s important to understand what qualities of light will work best, both with your skin tone and the materials in the bath. The goal is to provide the room with a background of flattering, even light. To change the mood of installed lighting or to add flourish, use accent lighting, floor lamps, table lamps or chandeliers can all function as accent lights. Bring in pillars, votives, and scented candles to create a true sense of private refuge.
- Outdoor lighting: Select a design and size to complement your house while providing sufficient lighting for safety. When installing a wall lantern, size the fixture to the door and surrounding space. Wall lanterns should be mounted slightly above eye level from the centre of the fixture to the floor. Post top lanterns are an excellent way to light a walkway, while complimenting wall lanterns. Large post top lanterns make a better impression when used in large open spaces..