How to light your home
- Credit: Archant
Getting the lighting plan right can have a significant impact on how you feel in a space, and each space must be considered independently, according to your needs and wishes
A good lighting plan combines different kinds of lighting to create a welcoming space where you can easily work or relax. Interior designers will consider three key lighting types when planning a room scheme: ambient lighting; accent lighting; and task lighting
Ambient lighting underpins everything else you do in the room. On a functional level, it creates enough light for you to see and move around safely. It is in terms of creating atmosphere – the ambience you desire – that ambient lighting really shows its worth. Ambient lighting is created using a balance of fixed light sources, such as overhead spots, pendants or chandeliers, and wall lights, floor lamps and table lamps. Adjusting the brightness of the ambient lighting according to time of day and the mood you wish to create is possible both through the dimmer switches and through smart bulbs, such as Philips Hue, which can be run from your phone or tablet, via Bluetooth.
Accent lighting is used to create a focal point. It builds upon the ambient lighting of a room by adding dimension, and is used to draw attention to a feature, like a piece of artwork or a statement chair, for example. Accent lighting should be subtle, yet precise, highlighting the object you wish to show off without casting its glow too wide. The best accent lighting doesn’t draw attention to itself, but solely to the object you wish to light. Picture lights, LED track lighting, under-cabinet lighting, even the spotlights that light up trees and garden sculpture, all fall into the basket of accent lighting.
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Task lighting is specifically functional lighting put in place to support you in accomplishing tasks. Whether it’s a desk lamp in a home office to light the keyboard, or spotlights placed above the worksurface in a kitchen to aid with food prep, this type of lighting is purely local and functional – but that doesn’t mean it need lack style. Consider, in a kitchen, pendant lights that can be pulled down closer for work and pushed away to support ambience – kitchens are no longer purely functional spaces, after all. Desk lamps come in all shapes, colours and sizes and when not in use should complement the overall design of the room.
Finally, research has shown that the brightness and hue of lighting can have a powerful effect on our bodies, as we confuse the natural patterns of day and night with electric light. Researchers recommend imitating natural daylight cycles with the artificial lights we have placed in our home or workplace. Brighter and stronger lights are suggested for the morning and during the day, while dimmer lights are recommended as we move into the evening and night. The colour temperature of light also has a measurable effect on the human body. Measured in Kelvins, the higher the colour temperature the brighter and cooler the light will be. Cooler lights make the environment more stimulating, so are ideal for daytime and work activities, while warm lights make the environment feel more welcoming and relaxing, so are perfect for winding down in the evenings and for social spaces.
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