Learning to create beautiful lighting design can feel daunting. The trick is to take it one layer at a time.
Improper lighting can make something about a room feel off. Is your living room so bright it feels like a hospital hallway? Is your kitchen gloomy rather than warm and welcoming?
The most beautiful lighting design is typically accomplished through the art of layering. Done right, layering can liven up a room or draw attention to your favorite elements in your home.
The three lighting categories
The first step towards achieving enchanting lighting is to learn the three types of light: ambient, task and accent.
Ambient lighting provides overall illumination in a room, creating a uniform wash of light. Think when you walk in a room and flip on a switch – this is likely the ambient light source for the space.
Accent lighting helps focus the eye and can be used to showcase works of art, house plants or other accessories. Task lighting, as the name implies, is used to illuminate areas for specific activities, such as reading or food preparation.
Building your layers
When setting up a room, designers will often begin with ambient lighting. This can range from a single light fixture in the center of the room, to a ceiling fan light fixture, to recessed cans around the room.
If left by itself, ambient lighting can seem flat. Luckily, you can create contrast with accent lighting. Accent lighting serves the important purpose of highlighting the hard work you put into the design elements of a room and the unique architectural features of your home.
Finally, consider what you want to accomplish in the room. If it’s making dinner, consider under cabinet lighting to illuminate your work space. If it’s an office, you may need a table or desk lamp to help you get your work done. Utility should be the primary consideration when designing task lighting.
Of course, the design of your lighting fixtures is an important aspect of putting a room together. Mix and match floor lamps, table lamps and wall-mounted fixtures to add visual interest to your room. Today, most fixtures, even lamps, are compatible with dimmers, so consider adding dimmers to all the light sources in your room, which allows you to customize the space based on how you’re using it at the time.