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Be your own lighting designer with these layered light bases



  Modern Living Room

Jacek Kadaj / Getty Images

The simplest things can change the design of a room. Maybe you have beautiful furniture, art and flooring, but if the ambiance still feels, lighting is probably the culprit. Light in our homes not only helps us to see. It gives a mood and creates a certain feeling.

Layered lighting is often ignored and is one of the most useful tools in interior design. Lighting designers divide the light into three levels: ambience, task and accent. With these carefully selected three layers, you have a balanced and comfortable living space. Let's take a look at each of these layers and break up what matters when it comes to lighting up your life.

Ambient

Ambient lighting is the main light source in a room. This can come from floor lamps, recessed lights, chandeliers or ceiling fans. It is also the base layer and foundation upon which you will build the rest of your lighting design. Ambient light should fill the room and be bright enough so you do not stumble in the dark.

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Unity is the key here. Do not combine the lamp types, brightness or color temperatures in the ambient lights of a room. For example, all recessed or ceiling fans should be the same. This keeps the feeling of space consistent. Consider wearing this uniformity in adjacent rooms and spaces, especially if you live in an open floor plan.

Task

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Task lighting is exactly what it sounds like. Task lighting illuminates a particular area. This could be a reading lamp next to your favorite chair, lights around your bathroom mirror, or a pendant over the kitchen sink. Because these lights are designed to light a very specific area, they are usually bright, direct light sources often in a single bulb fixture.

Consider the color temperature when installing the work lights. A cool, more daylight-emitting light bulb is good for precise work such as building or crafting. If your task lighting is more focused on reading, your eyes will thank you for choosing a warmer light. The Kelvin scale is printed on most light bulb boxes to determine the color temperature (see our Bulb Buying Guide for the basics of everything in the light aisle).

Accent

Accent lighting is the place where lighting designers (and homeowners) can enjoy themselves. This lighting is not intended for the entire work. While it can double as task lighting, accent lighting is primarily for looks. It is a great way to highlight architectural details such as a fireplace or bookshelves, or to illuminate a particular piece of art. A funky table or floor lamp are also good examples.

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While accent lighting is less functional, it is still important to think about how it interacts with the light in the rest of the room. To make sure you highlight the theme of your accent lighting, you should try a two to three times brighter light bulb than the rest of your room.

Balancing the Layers

Once you have all your light sources in place, balancing the levels depends only on the scenario. Dimmable ambient lighting can be lowered for a movie night or brightened for a game day party. Consider smart lighting products such as Lutron's Caseta Switch or Philips Smart Lamp Starter Kit to create scenes that you can activate by pressing a button or voice command.

Lighting can make all the difference in the interior design of your home. With these layered light basics you are on your way to a brighter, more balanced home.

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