Types of Lighting: Task, Accent, Ambient

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Some people think lights are lights are lights. And yes, I guess that’s technically true. But all lighting is not the same. To have a comfortable, functional home, you’ll need more that one kind of lighting.

Within lighting there are many questions to address. Like how bright or dim you prefer your space, what areas will be used what way in your home, and when the light will be needed. Lighting your space during the day or late at night calls for different solutions, of course. Color temperature means the hue of the light, whether it’s bluish, yellowish, reddish, or white. There are many things to consider with lighting, so today let’s focus on the purpose of your lights.

There are three reasons for lighting to exist: Task Lighting is to make it easier for you to do tasks. Accent Lighting highlights something worth noticing- drawing the eye to beauty. And Ambient Lighting creates a level of dim or bright light so that you can see in general.

Task Lighting

This type of lighting includes desk lamps, the light in the hood over your stove, light around your bathroom mirror, and any other light that is there to aid you in seeing to get something done. It’s more specific than ambient light, which fills a larger space. If you neglect task lighting, you may end up straining your eyes. You may find yourself working without the ability to see well, or have to light the entire larger space to a level of brightness that you really only need up close.

Accent Lighting

This lighting is the most neglected. So many homes have beautiful art, architectural details, or gorgeous exotic plants in them that go unnoticed more than they should. Not only do people sometimes fail to notice objects of beauty, but without proper lighting, they lose the opportunity to see them in full detail. Accent lighting can bring out the texture in your paintings, the detail on ornamental columns, or highlight the details of a rare orchid flower.

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This space has task lighting over the table to illuminate what’s done there, and accent lighting on the ceiling pointed at the wall art.

Ambient Lighting

This is how you can avoid walking into furniture. Ambient lighting isn’t directional, minimizes shadows, and creates an environment of visibility. Although you will seldom find a home that lacks ambient lighting, you can easily find homes that accomplish ambient lightning very poorly: they may have heavy shadows, a color temperature that makes people uncomfortable, or an overly dim light level.

Things that can affect your need for lights include the amount of sun provided by windows, the presence or lack of mirrors and shiny objects in the space, and more. A room full of back velvet needs far more light help than one with shiny patent leather and mirrored furniture.

How Do I Know What Types of Lighting I Need?

Unless you live in a greenhouse and go to bed with the sun, you need ambient lighting.

Everyone also needs task lighting, but where you need it depends and where you spent time doing what. Places that generally need task lighting include work desks, by the bed for reading, in the bathroom by the mirror, and at tables where people gather. In your home, with your life, this list may not be right. Think about how you use your space.

Accent lighting is a must if you want a beautiful home that shows off it’s virtues. If you’re asking yourself what compelling things you’d like to highlight in your home and coming up with nothing, that’s a sign that you don’t own things that you love to see and look at! It’s time to prioritize finding beauty to bring home, or to display what you already have that pleases you but isn’t on display.

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