How to Utilize Different Types of Lighting in Your Home
By Jacquelyn Nause
Lighting has a big impact on how you feel in a room, and different spaces have different lighting requirements. Good lighting adds a welcoming glow to a room, focuses light on a work area or directs your eye to a focal point.
With so many types of lighting and bulbs, all with different color temperatures and energy levels, it can be confusing to choose the right lighting for your space. Let’s break down the different types of lighting and how to use them in your home.
Ambient lighting is the most commonly used type of lighting in homes. Use it to set the tone for a space, providing a welcoming glow and sufficient light to move around the room. A general rule is that ambient lighting should feel as natural as possible, not too bright or harsh.
We recommend using recessed or track lighting to illuminate larger spaces like kitchens and living rooms. Chandeliers and pendant lights are great for taller ceilings, and they double as eye-catching design features in entryways or dining rooms. Wall sconces are versatile light sources that are usually used in pairs or multiples. Hallways, bedrooms and porches are great places for these.
When choosing ambient lighting, take into consideration the size of the room and amount of natural light from windows. Bulbs for ambient lighting are found in a range of brightness and hues from cool to warm. For a more welcoming glow, choose LED bulbs with a warm color temperature. Dimmable lights accommodate changes from day to night.
Accent lighting is primarily aesthetic, used to highlight prominent features like a piece of artwork or an architectural element. Use accent lighting in combination with ambient lighting to add dimension and style to a room. Similar to display lighting in museums and art galleries, accent lighting creates a sophisticated, upscale feel in a space.
Accent lighting should be three times brighter than the ambient lighting in a room, and be positioned to draw the eye toward the focal point rather than the source of light. Wall, recessed and spotlights are great for illuminating pieces of art, accent walls and design elements. Accent lighting is often used outdoors to draw attention to landscape or water features, plants or trees.
Task lighting is exactly that—lighting used to accomplish specific or detailed tasks. It is less decorative and more practical. This type of lighting is used for crafts and hobbies, grooming and for studying and reading. It is bright enough to prevent eye strain and reduce glare, and can be adjusted to suit the specific task.
As people age, their eyes require more light and can become more sensitive to glare. Choosing the right bulbs and light source for task lighting is dependent upon the individual and activity for which the light is needed. A good task light is about 1,000 to 1,400 lumens, depending on the workspace. Reduce glare by using a task light in an otherwise dimly lit space.
LED and halogen bulbs make great task lights. Task lamps should be angled to keep the light on the object or activity. Swing arm lamps, under-cabinet lights and vanity lighting are ideal task lights. Floor and table lamps provide task lighting in living areas while complementing the design of the space.
Ideally, these three different types of lighting will be combined throughout spaces to create ambiance and character. Remember that lighting sources can serve more than one function. A floor lamp can provide ambient lighting during the day, task lighting for reading in the evening, and accent lighting in a dim space.
No matter your space, incorporating these three different types of lighting can help you create rich, stylish lighting throughout your home.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in real estate, parenting and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.