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It’s All About Light Layering

Good lighting doesn’t just happen – it needs to be planned. And the key to a proper lighting plan is to use a multi-layered approach that combines three types of light: ambient, task, and accent lighting. These different levels of light will add variation, warmth, and express your personality. It’s as easy as 1,2,3!

Ambient lighting is the foundational, general illumination that typically comes from overhead fixtures and natural light from windows. Think of it as the practical light of the space.

Task lighting provides directional light on specific work areas or tasks. Pendants, recessed lights, and undercabinet lighting are all excellent choices for task lighting.

Accent lighting creates visual interest and adds drama to a room. Use it as part of an interior design scheme to highlight decorative features, architectural details, and other focal points of a room. Accent lighting should be at least three times brighter on the focal point as the general light surrounding it.

Light Layering: An Example

Start your lighting plan in the kitchen, which is typically the most-used space in the home. Select ambient lighting first. Select recessed, cove, soffit, or linear lights to provide soft illumination. For a more traditional look, use overhead flush mount ceiling fixtures or even a chandelier.

Since ambient light comes from everywhere, including natural light, it provides the light for general navigation throughout the room. However, this overhead light often leaves shadows that interfere with the light needed to perform cooking, reading, and other tasks effectively. This is where task lighting comes into the plan.

For task lighting, begin with the light for work areas. Since upper cabinets tend to block light, install undercabinet lighting, such as puck lights or tape lights, for direct lighting on the countertops. Try smaller pendant lights or recessed lights to add task lighting over the kitchen sink or cooking surface. Use several larger pendants to highlight the kitchen island. Add toe kick lighting along cabinet bottoms to create a clearly lit path at night.

Then, select statement-making chandeliers and pendants to define dining and living areas and create interest points for each zone. As the final flourish to the design, layer in accent lighting: wall sconces, table, and floor lamps, for added ambiance.

Use dimmers to create ambiance. If possible, place the wall and accent lighting on one dimmer, the general lighting on a separate dimmer, and the table lighting on a third dimmer so that each light layer can be individually controlled.

Find the perfect lighting for all light layers here.