Creative Lighting

Lighting is the most-often neglected aspect of room design by Do-It-Yourselfers.   A good lighting plan adds life and drama to any room, sets the mood, and even enhances bland surroundings.  If you cannot afford a full renovation of a room, implementing a new lighting plan can be an effective way to transform a room from dull to dramatic.  There are three aspects to a lighting plan, and all three are essential to giving a room both character and functionality.

1. Ambient/General Lighting

Most everyone addresses ambient lighting in some way.  It’s the most self-evident aspect of lighting, but unfortunately this is where the majority stop in a DIY project.  Ambient refers to the desired level of overall, general brightness in a room.  It is the uniform illumination that enables one to walk around safely and to see what’s in a room.  Ambient light, of course, includes daylight and is also achieved with electric lighting using lanterns, wall lighting, hanging and ceiling lights.  Be sure to install dimmer switches to give maximum control over the quantity of electric light that floods a room when daylight isn’t enough. Regarding windows, effective daylight control is crucial, but light control doesn’t just mean keeping light out.  Besides curtains, control is best achieved by using blinds, both vertical and horizontal, and plantation shutters.  All three enable you to either direct or eliminate direct sunlight, and allow just the right amount of daylight in.

2. Task Lighting

Task lighting is used for specific activities such as reading, office work, cooking and games.  It targets and adds light to specific areas of a room such as kitchen counters, living room seating, desks, etc.  The function of task lighting is to prevent eye strain and to eliminate shadows and glare.  Types of task lighting are desk and table lamps, floor lamps, pendants, and track and recessed lighting. Most people do address task lighting in some way, but it’s a good idea to revisit as new products, ideas and trends come into the market.

3. Accent Lighting

This is where the real creativity and effective transformation of a room comes in!  Accent lighting enhances the drama, the mood and the style of a room, but it is by far the most overlooked aspect of good  lighting design.  It can add depth, make a room appear larger, and emphasize, or accentuate, specific elements or objects in a room, such as wall art, sculpture, plants, or architectural elements. The types of lights used include:

  • Niche lighting
  • Lights inside cabinets
  • Track lighting
  • Picture lights (top or bottom)
  • Directed wall sconces
  • Inside shelving (recessed at the top, or even small lamps)
  • Adjustable recessed eyeball fixtures

Again, an effective and beautiful lighting design needs all three of the elements above to finish the decor of a room.  And remember, most people neglect the third one, Accent Lighting, which is the one that can add so much character and drama to a room, and set it apart from the ordinary!