The lighting in your home can affect everything from your emotions, energy level & mood to the atmosphere & appearance of each room. It is every bit as important as the flooring you choose, or the paint, or tile, or furniture. When done right, lighting can completely transform your home and electricity bill.
So, to help you do the lighting right in your home, here is a quick primer on the three basic types of home lighting with examples of each kind.
Ambient lighting is one of the most common lighting types and provides a uniform level of illumination throughout a room. It provides sufficient light for you to get around a room and see what you’re doing without causing a harsh glare. Also called general lighting or mood lighting, ambient lighting provides a comfortable level of brightness and replaces natural light. It is fundamental to home lighting. Examples of light fixtures for indoor ambient lighting include chandeliers and other ceiling lamps, traditional recessed or track lights, ceiling or wall-mounted lights, pendants, floor lamps, and table lamps. Ambient outdoor lighting fixtures include hanging fixtures, garage lighting, wall lighting, spotlights and post lanterns.
Task lighting can be achieved with pendants, under cabinet lighting, vanity lighting, portable lighting or desk lamps etc., and its purpose is to illuminate the task or chore a person is performing such as reading, sewing, crafts, cooking etc. It is used to help encourage focus on the task at hand, hence its name. Task lighting is also often referred to as office lighting and it works best as contrast light. For example, when you have a dimly lit room, a desk light will reduce the glare and shadow of your work area lighting. When deciding upon task lighting, it’s important to consider not only the task you intend to use it for, but also how much glare and shadows it might create. In addition, task lighting should be adjustable so that you can angle the light it shines in a way that works best for your eyes.
The purpose of accent lighting is to provide concentrated light on a specific focal point in a room, such as a photograph or painting or special architectural design detail. Accent lighting adds style and sophistication to a room and even a little drama. It can also give the impression that the room is larger than it actually is. Accent lighting is often used in museums or art galleries. Examples of accent lighting include landscape, track, under the cabinet, and recessed lights. LEDs are best for accent lights because they give off very little UV light and almost no heat.
Designing your lighting scheme should be about creating a space that complements your lifestyle and reflects your personal tastes as well as the needs of the room. The guide above can help you choose which light fixtures will create your desired lighting.