The Importance of Lighting – Brighten Up Your World
I often find myself walking through a new project, and while the space itself can be magnificent in size and grandeur – a key element that is almost always lacking or missing is lighting. Lighting is critical when designing and styling a home, as it can turn an otherwise basic home into a stunning work of art. Lighting should be an integral part of any interior design project from the early planning stages. Selecting lighting that complements the space can bring chosen design elements to life and create a warm, welcoming mood for family and guests. I particularly enjoy designing the lighting plan for every project we design because I have come to find that it has a special way of elevating the overall space and it can sometimes make or break a design concept.
As a designer, it has been a key goal of mine to educate clients on the importance of lighting for their spaces. I find that most people do not put much consideration into what will light up their rooms. Instead, they prefer to spend their time and energy on resourcing kitchen cabinets, counters, tiles, furniture, art, etc. But think about it – how will you get the most impact out of each of these items in your space? The answer: by using proper lighting in the proper location! When putting together a lighting plan, we like to layer different forms of light sources, but always keeping in mind the three basic types of lighting: general, task, and accent lighting.
GENERAL OR AMBIENT LIGHTING
Ambient lighting is intended to light up a room in its entirety. It provides a uniform level of illumination throughout the space independently of other lighting sources. Ambient lighting is also called general lighting, and it’s the most basic of the three types of lighting. It’s the natural light from your windows, and the lighting that substitutes for natural light. It radiates at a comfortable level of brightness, enabling users to easily navigate a space. It is the first layer of any lighting plan and sets the overall tone of the space. Some examples of general lighting are:
Wall mounted fixtures such as wall sconces and floor lamps, which wash the wall or ceiling with light.
Floor lamps, pendants and cove lighting that bounce light off ceiling and walls.
Task lighting is just what it sounds like: it’s the light you need to perform tasks―reading, studying, cooking, applying makeup, etc. Task lighting fixtures include:
Table lamps which can set the mood for your entire bedroom.
Pendant lighting – mini, regular and oversized
Table, desk and floor lamps, which also reinforce the rooms overall desired design style
Closet lighting and under cabinet lighting, which is key in closet and kitchen design, as it increases the visibility of clothes, kitchen countertops and food preparation areas
Bathroom vanity lights including sconces and pendants, which improve visibility in bathrooms, especially close to mirrors.
The third layer of home lighting is accent lighting (which is much more than mood lighting). In addition to providing an atmosphere and influencing our mood, accent lighting is used to highlight architectural features and important objects, and to draw attention away from the things that aren’t as pleasing. Even though accent lighting can disguise decorating blunders, it’s often the most forgotten of the three types of lighting. Common accent lights include:
Wall sconces, picture lights and niche lighting
When updating your lighting, it is also important to keep in mind the color temperature of the light bulb as this will drastically change the coloring of the space. Warm temperatures usually provide a more yellow tone, while cooler temperatures give a more neutral tone. Tailoring your lighting to the use and function of your space will help guide your selection process while also conveying the overall design style.