Lighting choices can help transform a home, elevating the interior design to the next level. The right lighting not only provides the necessary illumination, but it works in conjunction with the overall design aesthetic to set a mood.
Types of Lighting
When we say types of lighting, what likely comes to mind are things like a floor lamp, chandelier, or a ceiling light. Maybe the phrase makes you think of specific bulbs like the popular Edison bulb or LED lights. While these are types of lighting, we’re diving deeper.
Lighting design for any living space typically maximizes three types of light distribution:
- General or ambient
General or ambient lighting is the illumination that fills the room and makes it easy to move about without stumbling into the furniture. Typically, this lighting comes from a ceiling mounted light that may be built into a ceiling fan or installed as a recessed light.
Task lighting is exceptionally important in rooms like the kitchen and bathroom where things like preparing food or personal care are done and require higher illumination for safety. Desk lamps or lights to read by are also considered task lighting.
Accent lighting highlights something, like a piece of art, but it can also be used to create a mood. Lighting on a dimmer switch is considered part of this category, as are wall sconces, and some track lighting.
Both indoor and outdoor lighting design usually take into account these three types of lighting, combining them to create a cohesive and effective use of light.
What is Light Bulb Color Temperature?
Choosing the right light bulb color temperature for different areas of the home can make all the difference to the mood and effectiveness of the overall lighting design. Light bulb color temperature refers to its appearance and it’s measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000.
When shopping for light bulbs, the color temperature listed will tell you how that particular light will look. For example, candlelight or bulbs designed to mimic candlelight, will burn at a color temperature of 1,900K—an orange-ish hue. Direct sunlight (daylight with clear sky) has a color temperature range of 5,000K to 6,500K. This level of color temperature gives off a bluish-white light.
The lower the color temperature, the “warmer” the light; the higher the color temperature, the “cooler” the light. Consider warm accent lighting in the sitting area to create a cozy feel in a ski condo, ideal when your guests come home after a long day on the slopes. Provide cooler, bright task lighting in the kitchen, perfect over the center island when preparing a meal.
Layout Influences Design
Where the light sources are placed in the room is a personal preference, with the exception of built-in lighting. The layout and usage of a room will help determine where and what type of lights will work best.
Not sure where to start? A few ideas:
- Entrance: a pendant or chandelier-style light centered in the space provides the needed general lighting when entering the home, but wall sconces can add complimentary accent light.
- Living room: a large, overhead fixture centered over a main seating area is a good place to start and provides general/ambient light.
- Bedroom: in addition to general lighting, be sure to add task lighting near the bed for reading. These may be table lamps or wall-mounted.
- Bathroom: task lighting in the shower/bath and at the mirrors is essential.
The kitchen is often the most complicated room to light because it serves so many functions. In many homes, it’s the hub, the one room where everyone hangs out, so the lighting has to be multi-functional.
Bright task lighting is a must where food prep happens, but depending on the room’s layout, the general lighting may come from recessed lights, track lighting, or hanging lights. Don’t forget accent lighting in the kitchen, like color-changing lights under the cabinets that offer a soft glow when no one is using the room.
Ways to Layer Lighting
Layering in lighting design keeps the look from feeling one-dimensional or static. Even in the smallest rooms, like a guest bathroom or entrance, layering creates visual interest and can help the space feel more cohesive. The guest bathroom may have recessed lighting or even task lights on the mirror/vanity, but don’t be shy about adding accent lights under the base cabinet, a small table-top “candle-style” light on a floating shelf, or a wall sconce.
In a central and larger living area, different layers of light help to showcase the room’s design and maximize the use of the space. Recessed or track lighting may be the general lighting, but the addition of a floor lamp to illuminate a corner and a picture light to draw focus to hanging artwork create layers. Dimmer lights or color-changing lights are ideal for accent lighting in these larger spaces as well.
Playing with Natural Light
Any room with an expansive window and a great view should be incorporated into the overall interior design, especially in regards to lighting. Take advantage of natural light. Does your Guadalajara getaway have an amazing view? Don’t cover it up with heavy draperies. Keep the window coverings sheer and easy to open, allowing in warmth and light.
Outdoor Lighting 101
Outdoor lighting design follows many of the same rules as interior lighting. Determine which areas need general, task, or accent lighting and how bright the lighting needs to be. The goal is to use a method that is functional while still creating a beautiful aesthetic.
Everything in the outdoor living space doesn’t have to be lit. Allowing some shadows can create visual intrigue and add to the mood. However, when lighting spaces like a walkway, shadows should be avoided for safety reasons. If your neighbor’s property is nearby, be sure none of your lights intrude upon their space.
A backyard pool may combine general, task, and accent lighting, while an intimate condo balcony may only need a pendant light. Landscape lighting on plants, sculptures, and architectural details can also help elevate the exterior look of the home.
Indoor and outdoor lighting for any type and size of home is as personal as choosing decor and art. However, if you keep in mind a few of the basic guidelines, your overall lighting design will enhance the look and feel of every room. For fun lighting ideas, look to interior design blogs or sites like Pinterest. And remember, if you’re ready to open your home to guests, Casago is here to answer any questions.