Ambient, Task and Accent Lighting
There are three basic types of lighting for your home. Each type serves a particular purpose. However, the design-savvy homeowner uses all three basic types of lighting to create layers of light, the same way an artist applies layers of color to a painting.
Ambient, or general lighting, is the light that illuminates the entire space. Most homes are wired for ambient lighting with an overhead light in every room, but for many homes one overhead light is not enough. Floor lights that direct the light upward to bounce off the ceiling, wall sconces, and recessed lighting that directs light downward over a wide space are all additional sources of ambient lighting that give your home that warm well-lit feel.
Of the three basic types of lighting, task lighting is the most practical. Task lighting spotlights areas of your home where you perform specific tasks. In the kitchen, under-cabinet lighting illuminates the space where you prepare food, desk lamps, track or recessed lights spotlight a table where you pay your bills, and a lamp near a comfortable chair serves as a reading light.
If you’ve ever been to an art gallery, you’ve seen accent lighting used to spotlight paintings. Accent lighting serves the same purpose in your home. Bookshelves, pottery, sculpture, as well as architectural elements of your home can all be illuminated with accent lights. Track lights or recessed lighting with adjustable fixtures are also excellent for accenting the special items and features of your home that deserve special attention.
Lighting is both aesthetically pleasing and practical, as it creates ambiance and enables you to do essential tasks in your home safely and productively. When selecting lighting for your home, take an inventory of the three basic types of lighting, and make a list of the dark or dim areas of your home that need attention. Used together, the three basic types of lighting work in harmony to create a warm, cozy, well-lit living space in your home.
For more information on lighting specific rooms, please see our Lighting Tips.