The main goal of lighting design is to bring in different degrees of lighting in a room called layering. If you only have overhead lighting then the chance are your space feels gloomy and dark. If you light the room evenly with no contrast the room will most likely feel flat and uninviting to yourself and guests. In order to create a space with the ultimate ambiance that is warm and dynamic you need to create interest and drama in your layering of light.
Lighting evokes our moods and creates a feeling when you step into a space. I am sure that if you are reading this right now you are probably having a problem in this area. Well take a deep breath in and then let out a loud sigh, I am here to help you solve your lighting dilemma.
There are 3 types of important lighting to consider when lighting a living space (living room, study, den, etc).
General or Ambient lighting or overhead lighting’s purpose is functionality. Its purpose is to create an even light level in the room. Its purpose is to create an even light level in the room and it is the where you begin your lighting design plan.
Examples: track lighting, recess lights, ceiling mount fixtures
Task lighting is the most important lighting for the space. It helps you to complete activities such as reading, cooking, applying makeup and so forth. This lighting is much brighter (rule of thumb is 6-10 times brighter) than ambient lighting as it is more functional. If properly chosen task lighting can reduce overhead lighting needs thus conserving energy.
Examples: under-cabinet lighting, table lamps, floor lamps, desk lamps
Accent lighting consists of directional lights whose main purpose is to provide visual separation in a room. It can be dimmed evoking peace and quiet or brightened and focused to create visual drama.
Now that you have an understanding of the 3 major categories in lighting let’s put it together.
When lighting your living areas consider the following:
- How the space is used (ie. Watching TV, reading, office work, etc.)
- The style of the room
- Pieces of furniture or artwork you want to highlight
- Sitting and walking patterns in the room
- The mood you want to create
Start with the overhead lighting. Next assess what tasks will be done and where they are most likely to happen. Place table lamps, floor lamps and other task lighting in those areas. Lastly look for areas you want to highlight such as a painting, bookshelves, plants or accent furniture and highlight them with direct lighting much brighter than the overhead lighting.
You have now created a visually stimulating room by layering your lighting. You and your guests will feel at ease in this space. Congratulations on a job well done!