Ever notice the details of lighting when you walk into a well-designed home? Lighting that not only lights well the tasks of daily life as well as the entirety of a space, but also looks beautiful and adds a feeling of comfort to a room? Chances are these spaces have been graced with the talented touch of a good electrician or lighting designer. Homes that have received a careful, thoughtful look at their lighting plan, with the addition of dimmers for flexibility in levels of lighting, have a sophisticated ambiance that adds warmth to your home’s décor as well as functionality. Lighting professionals rely on the tried and true trick of using 3 distinct layers of lighting to add character to rooms…here’s the scoop on what this means and how to achieve the layered look in your own home’s lighting plan.
The ambient layer is the baseline lighting source for your home. It provides enough light to see rooms in a general way for basic tasks (such as passing from one room to another). Ambient lighting is the natural light from windows, and the supplementary lighting that substitutes for this natural light. These are the light switches on the wall to turn on the lights you use the most every day, and when placed on dimmers can add any number of lighting effects or moods to your layered looks. Sources of ambient lighting are ceiling fixtures, recessed ceiling cans, chandeliers, track lighting, and wall sconces that light the room. These are the starting points of basic lighting in every home, especially newer construction. But this is just the starting point for your lighting scheme; many homes stop here, without adding additional layers. It’s the added layers that add complexity and sophistication to your lighting and decorating.
Task lighting is the next layer in your home’s lighting plan. This is the lighting that more specifically illuminates specific areas or tasks in your home. Pendant lights over a kitchen island workspace will help the home chef clearly see culinary tasks such as chopping, slicing, mixing and rolling. An adjustable floor lamp beside a favorite chair provides ample lighting for reading, and can me moved around to adjust placement of light for each user. Table lamps on accent tables highlight objects and photos placed there, as well as providing a decorating opportunity to add an element of style to your room’s décor. Wall sconces in a powder room or bath provide task lighting for a mirror to see makeup application and tooth brushing clearly. Under –cabinet lighting in a kitchen or laundry room provides additional lighting to counter spaces. These are all ways to add an intermediately places layer of lighting to your rooms. Task lighting also benefits from dimming capabilities to adjust the level of lighting as ambient light changes throughout the day, and to add complexity to the mood setting in your room.
The third layer in your room, accent lighting, is used to highlight or draw attention to particular objects or spaces of interest in your home. Perhaps you have a spectacular collection of artwork in a hallway of your home. You would use a picture light as accent lighting to specifically light these pieces hanging on your walls. Bookcases can be lit with recessed accent lighting, creating a dramatic decorative effect in these defined boxes and spaces. Examples of incredible stone work, whether on a fireplace or on an interior wall, come alive with texture when highlighted with mono point accent lights. Adjustable spotlights and track lighting give the flexibility to change the focal point of this very useful type of accent lighting. Step lighting to accent a stairwell adds beauty and drama to this architectural focal point in a home. Other architectural features or sculpture also benefit from well-thought placement of accent lighting.
When building a new home, it is important to consult with your electrician about the specific lighting plan that will not only perform the basics of lighting your daily tasks, but also provide that finished, polished look to your homes scenery. In a remodel, adding layers to a once single-faceted lighting plan can bring the updated modern touch to your new design. This can be achieved with sometimes simple, sometimes not so simple rewiring of your home in order to add fixtures and recessed lighting where needed. Often all you need is the simple exchange of a wall switch to add a dimming feature for variety in your current lighting. The best approach is to have an electrician with a keen eye and deft skill help you develop a customized strategy for your own layered lighting look.