Adding lighting to a room can do so much more than get rid of the dark–it can also help you spotlight a room’s assets (or hide its flaws), make the tasks you do in the room easier, and create a great ambiance. But there’s no single type of light that can do all of those things for you. That’s why most interior designers opt for a lighting scheme that uses a mix of lights when they’re planning a room.
You can do the same. These are the three primary types of lights: When you’re choosing lights, think about how you will use the room, and add the type of lights you’ll need to do it, and then–the best part–shop for the lights you need in a style you’ll love.
Also known as general lighting, ambient lighting illuminates a room, and generally brightens things up so you can move around safely and hang out in a room after dark. This form of lighting is usually the most far-reaching of all light types-and it’s usually overhead–and it’s necessary in just about every room.
As the name describes, task lighting provides focused illumination–think spotlight, on a much smaller scale–that allows you to perform specialized tasks such as reading, writing, working on crafts and hobbies, cooking, applying makeup, and removing stains while doing laundry. Task lights are added to a lighting scheme after the ambient light source is determined.
Task lighting fixtures include those that light up a relatively small area in particular. Examples of such lighting include desk lamps, pendant lights, under-cabinet lights like those found in kitchens, floor lamps and even pool-table lights.
Accent lighting adds a decorative touch to the home and can be used to create a mood. It can draw attention to particular items in the home like paintings, sculptures, plants–or even the light itself. Rather than serve a functional purpose, accent lighting adds ornamental elements to the room.
In order for accent lighting to be effective, the light coming from the piece or trained on the item to be accented must be three times stronger than the general lighting in the room, or the ambient lighting should be shut off so that all eyes go to the accent lighting and its focal point.
Examples of accent lighting include decorative lighting fixtures (like this one), recessed lights, track lights, and spotlights. Lights on dimmer switches are also included in this category, because they can be used to create ambiance in a room.
What’s your biggest lighting challenge?