Lighting is one of the basic elements of interior design. It affects how we perceive space and objects. It sets a mood, creates drama, highlights or camouflages structural features of a space, and enhances or diminishes the effects of color. It is an essential décor feature that should be included when you are thinking of your overall design plan. When designing/decorating a space don’t just focus on arrangement, furniture, color, art and accessories. Think also of how lighting will enhance these pieces, the architectural aspect of your space and the mood you want to set.
When designing/decorating your space think of applying the three layers of light to your design plan – ambient/general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. This will help you achieve warmth, depth, dimension and interest.
1. Ambient/General Lighting – this is the most basic and the first/base layer of lighting. It provides general illumination in a room. Also think of using it when you want to reduce contrast. Examples are recessed lights, chandeliers, ceiling fans with light, cove lighting, other ceiling fixtures and torchieres (upward indirect light floor lamp). Most people stop at just general lighting. Don’t stop there – continue with the next 2 layers!
2. Task Lighting – this is needed to perform tasks i.e.reading, sewing, applying makeup, food preparation/cooking. Examples are pendants, table lamps, desk lamps, under-cabinet light, vanity light. Task lighting aims at minimizing glare and shadows while being sufficient to prevent eye strain. Think of how you are going to use the space before determining the type of task light you will need.
3. Accent Lighting – this is used as a way to provide contrast and visual interest. It is used to highlight important objects or architectural features and also to draw attention from things that are not as pleasing. Examples are picture lights, directional recessed lights, niche lighting, lighting inside a cabinet. To get a dramatic effect, the accent light should be much brighter than the general lighting in the space.
Go ahead; illuminate your space to its maximum potential!
Don’t forget to consult an interior designer or lighting specialist if you need assistance with a lighting layout!