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Light and Layers

The struggle for an ideal lighting situation is real.  Many of us are constantly trying to find the right amount of illumination for our space, and frustrated when we fall short of success.  A common mistake not always addressed is that we typically will not achieve an ideal amount of necessary lighting if relying on one source of illumination alone.  This will require using layers of lighting, which can be achieved when properly combining three main categories of light: Ambient, Accent and Task.


General lighting sources provide us with overall illumination for our everyday living.  Also known as ambient light, this type of lighting should create a uniform level of brightness within your space, ideal for the room’s activity and daily task level.  These general lighting fixtures can take many forms, such as: chandeliers and hanging pendant lights, flush or semi-flush mounted ceiling fixtures, and track lighting or recessed lighting.  Having the proper source and amount of ambient light in all rooms is fundamental to a good lighting plan.


Accent lighting is used to create drama or visual interest within a space.  We often use this type of lighting when trying to highlight architectural features, artwork, or exterior landscape elements. Accent lighting is most often provided by small recessed or track lighting fixtures, along with some wall mounted picture lights, or low-voltage art lights.


Task lighting is intended to help you perform specific tasks or functions that require a focused light source, in addition to the general (or ambient) light within the space.  Examples of this would be: pendant lighting above a kitchen island, under-cabinet lighting for above your desk or kitchen surfaces, and table lamps near a chair or on your bedside tables where reading will take place.

Kichler Lighting tells us more about how to layer these sources in the video below:

Whatever your lighting needs, keep in mind that each and every space is unique, and will require an equally unique lighting plan.  A trained lighting consultant will always be your biggest asset.  There is no standard winning formula that is a one-size-fits-all path to successful illumination.  Dark walls and finishes, limited natural light sources, and lower ceiling heights are just a few examples of what can necessitate a more thoughtful approach to your lighting design.  The experienced consultants at Creative Lighting can walk you through how to best illuminate your particular space and be part of your lighting success story!

Photo and Video Credit: Kichler Lighting
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