What are the different types of lighting? What is task lighting? How to create accent lighting? What else is available besides ambient lighting? With so many different types of lighting available, it can get a little confusing when designing a lighting scheme for your home or office. Our guide explains the different types of lighting - ambient (or general), task and accent, how to use them effectively, and which light fixtures to use create your desired lighting.
- Ambient or General Lighting
- Task Lighting
- Accent Lighting
What is Ambient Lighting?
This is one of the most common types of lighting. Ambient light is a soft glow that blankets your space just enough for you to function without causing a harsh glare. In photography and cinematography, ambient light is considered the "natural light" within a room. In décor, ambient light is very similar, except you create the ambient light by making the room's lighting as natural and flat as possible. While ambient light is meant to get you safely from point A-to-B, it is not ideal for working closely with things or to highlight things around your space.
How to Light a Room with General Lighting?
When used correctly, ambient light creates a fantastic environment to relax from an overly stressful day or to have a warm conversation with an old friend. Ambient lighting is often referred to as mood lighting, because this light captures the soft curves of your face and allows your pupils to dilate slightly (a physical sign of affection). Some yoga studios have even begun using the softer ambient lighting in their classes to help draw stress from the body.
We recommend using the following lights to create ambient light.
What is Task Lighting?
This is a smaller more concentrated light. You want task lighting around when you’re working. In fact, some people call it office lighting. Task lighting is meant to help you see when you’re doing projects in which you need a finer light, such as, reading, cooking, writing, sewing and many other things. Task lighting only works well when it is used as a contrasting light. For example, if you have a low lit room with a swing arm lamp turned on over your desk, the light over the desk surface will be more effective with less glare or shadow-effect than if the entire room was lit with a brighter light.
How to Use Task Lighting?
Task lighting helps naturally stimulate your brain. The contrasting light allows you to be more alert and concentrated. This will help you see more details as you work, creating higher quality results. This is why many businesses choose to use task lighting in their offices.
We recommend using the following fixtures to create task light.
What is Accent Lighting?
This is a very concentrated light with the intention of drawing the eye to its focal point. Accent lighting is a way of adding style and drama to your home. This will help you illuminate the pieces you want on display, while shadowing dull areas. People use accenting for wall washing, artwork, bookcase displays, pieces of furniture, collections and the general architecture of their homes. Outdoor accent lighting is when you highlight parts of the architecture of your home or yard. This is very popular during the holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas.
How to Use Accent Lighting?
Accent lighting is one of the types of lighting that creates a very sophisticated atmosphere. It evokes feelings of meaning and importance to the images it displays. This lighting type is used a lot for museums, historical buildings and art shows.
We recommend using the following lights to create accent light.
These light fixtures work fantastic with taller ceilings. You can choose which height is best for your lighting needs. Chandeliers are very classic pieces that work well in foyers, over the tub in the bathroom, or over large dining room tables.
Flush and semi-flush ceiling lighting are so versatile and discrete they work almost anywhere. Use these carefully. Ceiling lighting is standard in hallways, bedrooms, kitchens, and outdoor spaces, such as, patios and porches. Try to incorporate the ceiling mounted fixtures with wall switches into your homes architecture.
Pendants are great because they can be placed in a lot of areas and can hang directly above work spaces. Depending on the style and placement of the pendant, you can use these for ambient, task, or accent lighting. Use a series of pendants with clear or light colored shades for ambient lighting, two or more pendants with dark colored shades for task lighting, or one or two pendants over a side table or other focal point to create accent lighting.
Not only are can lights used for general room lighting, recessed lighting can be used for for accent lighting depending on where you place them. Place them in your ceiling or in your floor close to the wall to create a wall washing affect to illuminate a beautiful brick texture, a colorful paint design or display a huge bay window.
Wall Lighting & Sconces
Wall lights are fantastic for designing accent lighting. They come in a range of sizes that allow you the highlight big or small pieces of art. These work great on art walls and for showcasing the architecture of your space.
Track lights are great for the same reason, except they can typically cover a little more space. Try using a series of these throughout your home in rooms such as your master bedroom, den, kitchen, or living room.
Swing Arm Lamps
Use lamps on your desks, bedside tables, mounted next to your favorite chair or anywhere you need a little extra light for working. Swing arm lamps allow you to adjust the light anyway you’d like. Since lamps are lightweight, portable, and adjustable these are the ideal task lights.
Under Cabinet Lighting
These are the ultimate task lights. Under cabinet lights work great in your kitchen, like below. They add a flare to your kitchen and give the extra light you need for chopping and cleaning.
Vanity lighting is standard in bathrooms and on dressing room tables. Bathroom and mirror lights provide a bright, focused light to ensure your makeup and hair is done just right!
These lights are the best for showing off the outside of your home. Use landscape lighting to light up a pathway, prized garden or statue.
For multiple types of lighting options consider using a light dimmer. Dimmers help achieve any mood or look you’re looking for at the turn of a knob or push of a button.