Layering Lighting for a Cozy, Well-lit Home

September 15, 2014

I don’t know about you, but when the days start getting shorter and colder in September, all I can think about is breaking out the things that make my home comfortable and warm. This includes lighting, since there’s so much less sunlight; deficiencies in lighting are very noticeable now that there is weak light after work in the evenings.

The key to creating a space that is functional, comfortable, and beautiful is layering lighting. Insufficient lighting ruins interior design!

What does layering lighting mean?

A uniform light in a room creates a stiff atmosphere and has the result of minimizing art or features. By paying attention to three types of lighting – ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting – you are layering light and using it to highlight the elements you want to draw attention to.

Layer 1: Ambient Light

This is a general layer of light that serves as a base, creating workable light for moving around and performing basic tasks.

Layer 2: Accent Lighting

This layer of light adds depth and interest to a space by highlighting art or interesting architectural elements.

Layer 3: Task Lighting

This layer of light illuminates specific areas or surfaces – for example, the light over a stove top or your favourite reading lamp.

General notes about layering lighting

Once you create these layers of light, you have lots of control over the lighting in use in your space. Turn on one layer, some of them, or all of them to suit the task at hand and mood.

For a more dramatic look, increase the contrast between your layers by lowering the ambient lighting and increasing the task lighting – dimmer switches are really useful here if you want a brighter look in some instances and dramatic for others.

For energy savings, use more task lighting instead of ambient lighting in a residential setting. By being specific about the light you need at the moment, you waste less energy.