Functional, beautiful lighting can’t be created from a single light source. To achieve optimum lighting for your home, consider using layers of light in each room. To help you visualize this, try thinking of each light source as a layer in a cake. Each layer brings a different flavor to the cake, but they come together to make a single delicious dessert. Layering lighting works in the same way, by blending together multiple light sources to create a rich and ambient atmosphere.
The bottom layer of the lighting cake is called the “overall” layer or “ambient” layer. This is the foundation of the room’s lighting design. Chandeliers, ceiling fixtures and wall sconces fall into this category, and are intended to create soft illumination for everyday use. The ambient layer will determine the general brightness of the room. Choose to lower the lights in bedrooms and dining rooms to generate a romantic atmosphere. Or use brighter ones in the kitchen to make the room feel vibrant and energetic.
The next layer of lighting is the “task” lighting. This bright layer illuminates specific areas or surfaces to help with activities like cooking or reading. Because task lighting is more direct, using more of these lights instead of ambient lighting can help you save on energy bills.
Accent lighting refers to the top layer of our lighting system. This lighting helps enhance the room and create visual interest. You can use accent lighting to illuminate art or architectural elements. Accent lights are usually adjustable so they can be used to produce a variety of styles for the room. Put the icing on the cake by implementing decorative lights. This layer doesn’t necessarily add functional light to the room; it’s mainly there to complete the look of the room. Make sure these lights are on the dim side so they don’t overpower the rest of your décor.
Light layering techniques are especially relevant now around the holidays. String lights and candles are the perfect third or fourth layer for your home lighting scheme. Dim the ambient lights to make your Christmas tree and decorations really shine. A fireplace can also act as a cozy lighting source. Have fun decorating and happy holidays to you all!
David Decker is president of The Affordable Companies, which provide affordable luxury in kitchens, bathrooms and flooring. They are based in Carmel (575-9540, www.the-affordablecompanies.com). Email home improvement questions to [email protected].