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How to Layer Lighting for Optimal Effect

How to Layer Lighting for Optimal Effect

Practical, pretty and mood-making, layered lighting is a strategy that mixes three types of illumination for a look that is perfect in any circumstance.

Ambient Lighting

Also known as general lighting, ambient lighting is the foundation needed in every room. It is where to start, whether you’re remodeling, updating, or building your home. The key is to deliver enough diffused light throughout the space so that it is bright enough for basic functions.

Ambient lighting is found in the form of recessed lights, track lighting, flush or semi-flush mount fixtures, or even ceiling fans that have lights.

Task Lighting

Once your general lighting is established, you’ll want to build on it with the second layer — task lighting. This is where you deliver light in a concentrated form onto areas where it’s needed most, which is usually where you do specific tasks. Pendant lights, under cabinet lights, sconces and table lamps are great task lighting sources.

Some common areas needing task lighting are:

  • Kitchen island — usually a hub of activity, from food prep to homework.
  • Under cabinets — where shadowy counters are illuminated for a functional work space.
  • Beside mirrors — you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll see during daily grooming with lighting on each side of the mirror.

Accent Lighting

The third and final layer, accent lighting, is the finishing touch. This is where you add the ‘wow’ factor. Highlight architecture, showcase statement pieces, or softly illuminate certain areas for dramatic effect.

The end result of layered lighting done right — mixing ambient, task and accent lighting in just the right places — is a space that welcomes all who enter and makes them want to stay.

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