The Three “General” Layers of Lighting Explained

When you enter a room and feel that everything is in harmony it is usually because the lighting is knitting all the room elements together in a balanced and constructive manner. In a way it’s not immediately noticeable, nothing really dominates anything else, it’s a marriage of form, function and texture all painting a very balanced picture.

So, what’s the key behind getting the lighting design right? The trick is to find that balance in your desired space while playing with the lights and shadows, yes, even embracing darkness where it’s intended. There are 3 basic types of lighting that are considered as the building blocks of a space by professional designers. They are – Ambient, Task and Accent lighting. If you layer these three the right way, you’ll see the magic happen.

AMBIENT LIGHTING

Also known as general lighting, it is used to brighten up spaces where you carry out daily activities, almost uniformly. It’s the perfect lighting for catching up with your family after a long hard day at work, for watching TV in the living room or for business meetings held in your offices’ conference room. Generally, you shouldn’t imagine any of these spaces with shadows or pockets of darkness in these spaces if lit well.

TASK LIGHTING

Task, if taken in the most literal form could be – A light with a task. It is used to illuminate a particular area to help you get your work done in utmost clarity. For example, you need to draw at your desk or read a book at your favourite chair so a focused source of light is necessary to help you do that without straining your eyes.

ACCENT LIGHTING

Accent lighting is used when you want to accentuate key areas of your design by creating mood and emotion  in a desired area. It is used to highlight artefacts, plants, water bodies, bookshelves, tables or pictures. Accent lighting is one of the most important design steps when layering lights and should be used in a balanced a carefully planned way when considering your ambient and task lighting as well. This is where the true style of your space really gains momentum.

Accent lighting subtly adds that glow and gives you that warm cosy feeling if done the right way. Chandeliers, Pendants, table and wall lights are often used as accent lights. We also refer to accent lights as feature or statement lights.

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