What is lighting in layers for the home?

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Lights in your glass-front kitchen cabinets is a great way layer accent lighting
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Ambient, task and accent fixtures make lighting in layers for the home

When decorating your home it is often the subtle additions and applications that give your interior the WOW factor and make all the difference in a nice home versus a spectacular one.

You may have the most beautiful furniture and wonderful wall color and great accessories, but if you cut corners when it comes to lighting the room you are not going to get the full effect. One of the best ways to create drama in your home is lighting in layers.

What is lighting in layers for the home?

Lighting the interior of your home in layers requires ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting.  Some lighting is absolutely required so that you can see to function inside your home. Other lighting is less necessary, but it can transform an ordinary space into a show case, and that’s why you should consider layering the lighting in your home.

Ambient lighting

Let’s start with ambient lighting, which is also called existing lighting, general lighting and available light. Ambient light is soft and indirect and fills a room, creating a welcoming blush to the area that makes people want to go in and kick back and relax.

Ambient lighting comes from available light, such as from the sun that shines through the window, but it can also be supplied by artificial light at night.

An example of ambient lighting is track lighting, ceiling fixtures, including chandeliers, wall sconces, the light that is part of a ceiling fan and recessed lighting. Most home interiors have some or many of these ambient lighting features. This is the first layer of lighting in your home.

Don’t stop. Keep going. 

Task lighting

Task lighting is the second kind of lighting that you need in your home.

We need light in certain areas, so we can see to read or prepare food or sew or do any of the “tasks” that we do in a home. Task lighting includes desk lights, table lamps, vanity lights, lighting under your kitchen counters, floor lamps, pendant lights over an island in the kitchen and track or recessed lighting that is directed at a specific spot.

Task lighting can’t be overlooked. Have you ever gotten really frustrated because you can't see well enough to read your book or thread a needle? That’s because you don’t have adequate tasking lighting, which increases the illuminance in the area that you are working in. You need to be able to see yourself in the bathroom mirror (don’t groan), and you need to be able to see what you’re doing in the kitchen. Task lighting is necessary in these areas. 

Accent lighting

The third type of lighting that you should incorporate into your home or layer with other lights is accent lighting. Some refer to this as mood lighting.

For instance, if you have a beautiful plant that you want to highlight, show it off using up lighting. Adjustable spotlights can be used to show off a favorite portrait or painting that you love. You are accenting those things in your home that you find particularly beautiful and/or interesting and want others to notice. 

A wonderful way to accent your kitchen is to place lights in your glass-front kitchen cabinets. If you have crooks and crannies in your home, put a light in that area. This is called niche lighting. Up lights or can lights accent that which you want to be accented. Putting your lights on dimmers is another way to accent your home and also create an ambience. 

Consider using rope lighting under or over your kitchen cabinets. This is an excellent way to create visual interest and warmth in your home. 

As you “light” your home remember to layer the lighting: Ambient lighting comes first, followed by task lighting and then accent lighting. Your family and friends are going to go “Wow” when they see the way your interior is transformed simply by putting more thought into your lighting. 

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