Layers of Light
When God said “let there be light," He made no mistake as nothing can be illuminated without it. From a brilliant sunrise to a Raphael sunset, shades of light improve our psyche and improve how our spaces look. Interior Designers keenly understand this component and follow three basic principles that you can apply to your own home lighting plan. It’s called “layering light.”
1. Ambient Lighting
Ambient lighting is the basic general illumination to a room; Bright enough to get you from point A to point B and sets the tone for the room. Usually this is operated by a main light switch that will illuminate a room, but could also be natural day light from a window in the room.
2. Accent Lighting
Accent lighting creates a mood or aesthetic. It provides the opportunity to highlight different features in your room such as art, a fireplace or interesting architecture within the space. It can be known as directional light and can be provided by wall sconces, intentionally positioned lamps or small recess lights.
If ambient lighting is your blanket layer of light across a whole room, then accent lights can create highlights to what you would like to emphasize.
Typically, accent lights are directional and three times brighter than ambient lights.
3. Task Lighting
Task lighting is exactly as described. It’s light that allows you to complete the task. Whether it’s cooking, sewing, sawing or reading, you need practical light.
Under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen allows you to read your recipe, utilize system controls and prevents you from chopping off your finger when prepping food. Bath vanity lights allows you to put those contacts in, read your prescription and ensure your eye shadow isn’t above your eyebrows.
For effective lighting, you'll want to consider ambient, accent and task lighting for a room.
Next, you’ll need the correct luminary (bulb) for the fixture to provide the effect that you’re aiming for. Look for a luminaire’s color rendering. It’s measured in Kelvins and the numbers denote the color rendering of a bulb. A kelvin of 2700 mimics day light, the light output is warm and traditionally suits our homes best. Higher kelvins usually equate to cooler color renderings. For example, a doctor might need 50,000 kelvins to perform surgery. The light output in the surgical room will be cool and will render bright white.
When purchasing bulbs, ensure your bulb matches the required type for the lighting fixture. Much has changed regarding energy efficiency, light output (lumens) and color rendering (kelvins). Call your local lighting vendor such as Lamps USA. They have excellent lighting specialist that can suggest the right bulb for the right fixture and can help to consult on your project for the DIY.
Complement your layers of light with switches that dim. Want to navigate to the kitchen at midnight? Dimmable lighting gives you the option to customize your layers of light for the way you live.
And if you want to get fancy, get smart and put all those lights on a SMART device such as Lutron’s Caseta system. Simple to install and provides the flexibility to turn on/off your lights from your any place in the home. Most importantly, it can increase your safety and security through simple programming to make it appear that you have an active home when you’re away.
Now that you’ve got the basics…get layered and go light up!
Photos courtesy of Lamps Plus Inc.