Lighting is one of the most overlooked yet significant aspects of interior design. Lighting illuminates our homes, highlights our favourite spaces and affects mood, atmosphere, performance and mental health on a daily basis. Lighting can completely transform a home – for better or for worse. When it comes to your interior design, lighting fixtures should be at the top of your list.
Break the Room into Layers
One of the most important things you need to think about is balance. There are three types of lighting – general, tasks and accent, and all three need to work harmoniously (one shouldn’t dominate at the expense of the others). The combined lighting effect should provide the most evenly-balanced light possible and maximum versatility for multiple purposes like relaxing, reading or accenting a collection of treasured possessions.
You can think of these lighting types as layers in a cake:
General/ambient lighting = the main layer
General lighting makes up about 75% of the room’s light. The main purpose of general light is visibility (it prevents you from bumping into your furniture!). For larger rooms, general lighting often requires a few ceiling fixtures. When used correctly, ambient light creates a warm environment that is perfect for relaxing in after a busy day.
Task lighting = the icing
Without icing, a cake is a little drab and tends to fall apart – and it’s the same with your home. Task lighting helps you to accomplish everyday tasks like studying, brushing your teeth or preparing meals. When it comes to planning this lighting, write down the tasks that will likely take place in each room, and then plan your task lighting around them.
Accent lighting = the cherry on top
The cherry on top of a cake enhances flavour and provides a nice finishing touch – just like accent lighting. Accent lighting is a decorative element – it enhances certain details like paintings, or plants, or architectural elements like coves, ceilings or decorative rims. Accent lighting evokes a sense of sophistication.
Consider Controls and Switches
Ultimately, you want to be able to control each layer of light separately. This is easiest when you have separate, conveniently-placed switches for each lighting type. Ideally, you should also have dimmer switches so that you can have ultimate control over how harsh or soft your lighting is.
Warm vs. Cool
Light bulbs give off different shades of white light – they range typically from a bluish-white to a yellow-white. Generally, warm light promotes relaxation, whereas cool light promotes energy and alertness. There is no set rule about which colour temperature you should have in your home – this is really up to you. Commonly, warm lighting is used in living rooms, bedrooms and hallways, while cooler lighting is used in kitchens, studies, bathrooms, cupboards and offices. If you want the lighting in your home to be consistent, opt for your preferred colour temperature and use it throughout your home.
Want more interior decoration tips? Check out our 4 tips for timeless interior design .