How To Choose The Right Light For Your Home

No matter the size of a space, how you light it can make all the difference in its function. A well-placed ceiling light fixture or lamp can provide pleasant and functional ambient light. In this article, we’ll explain the different types of lighting and where they’d work best in your home.

There are three layers of light: ambient, task, and accent. The size of your room and room type will determine which types you need. In general, you want at least two layers to properly light a room. Sometimes simply adding a layer of light can dramatically increase your home’s quality of light. The chart on the right outlines the layers of light and where they should be used.

  • Ambient

Ambient, or general lighting, is needed in every room. It provides a comfortable overall level of light. Ambient light sources are typically overhead lighting, such as ceiling light fixtures, and as a general rule, it’s the best place to start when lighting a room. Ambient light sources to consider for your lighting plan: ceiling fans, chandeliers, flush mount or semi-flush mount ceiling fixtures, pendants, recessed lighting, torchiere lamps, track lighting, vanity lighting, and wall sconces.

  • Task

Task lighting allows you to see while you’re performing a task. It supplies the intense, direct light needed for detailed work — reading, cooking, prep, applying makeup — in places like the kitchen, office, and bath. Task light sources to consider for your lighting plan: desk lamps, island or mini pendants, track lighting, under cabinet lighting, vanity lighting, and work lamps.

  • Accent

Accent lighting allows you to spotlight interesting features in your home décors, such as a painting or a mantel. It also serves as a secondary light source to augment ambient lighting in a room. Ambient lighting mainly provides overhead lighting, and accent lighting helps illuminate parts of the room that ambient light can’t reach. Accent lighting sources to consider for your lighting plan: recessed lighting, track lighting, and wall sconces.

In Selecting A Fixture Style

If you’re selecting a fixture, start with a favorite element in the room and look for a light that complements it. If you have a modern sofa, for example, lighting with clean lines will enhance your space. Another tip is to look at the cabinet or door hardware in the room and choose fixtures in a complementary finish.

  1. Best Light for your Foyer

The foyer creates the first impression of your home, so you’ll want ambient light with a couple of accent light sources. You can’t go wrong with a flush mount light or a semi-flush mount light. If your foyer has a vaulted ceiling, go bold with a chandelier or pendant lantern for a more dramatic entrance. If you have a side table, a table lamp can provide a secondary light source.

  1. Living Room

The living room is the place for hanging out, relaxing, cozying up with a book, or watching a movie. Lots of daily activity occurs here. That means you’ll need a variety of lighting.

If your living room has areas with no light or the current light casts shadows, you’ll need more ambient and accent lighting. Recessed lighting and flush mount or semi-flush mount lights are good options for ambient lighting. Track lighting provides accent lighting, allowing you to direct light toward paintings, glass vases, or whatever you’d like to showcase. If you have a focal point in the room, like a mantel, add wall sconces to either side for additional accent lighting.

Other ambient lighting options are ceiling fans, chandeliers, pendant lights with a drum shade, and torchiere floor lamps. A torchiere floods the ceiling with light. These lamps work well if you’re not in the market to install permanent lighting or if you need to light a small space like a loft or apartment. Some ceiling fans can also offer perfect LED lights for home spaces like the living room.

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