Lighting 101

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Lighting 101

by Thompson Ani |July 1, 2019 | Blogs, interior design, Uncategorized

Lighting 101

Lighting plays a major design role in the overall success of any room décor. Lighting should be layered the same way colors and textures are layered in a room. There are many options when it comes lighting. Adding a layer or two of additional lighting sources gives your room design greater light depth.

The lighting in a home changes the mood of a room just as it does the perceived size of a room. Placement and type are important aspects of interior design, and they work in conjunction with color selections, room size, availability of natural light and furniture selection which I have been discussing on my page . The elements that come together when the right lighting is achieved transform a room into a seamless combination of functionality and style.

Lighting is an important piece of the interior design and interior designer don’t downplay the role it plays. Lighting design plays a very big role in how you experience a space. A successfully-designed room needs a mix of three basic types of lighting. The three major categories of lighting used in interior design are namely – ambient, task and accent. One is essential ambient lighting that provides practical lighting needs. Another addresses task lighting requirement and the third one gives accent lighting options. Some lighting choices have more than one type of application, making them versatile and valuable lighting options.


A living room with layers of the ambient, task and accent lighting

This guide explains the different types of lighting – ambient, task and accent., how to use them effectively, and which light fixtures to use create your desired lighting

Types of Lighting in Interior Design

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is the basic type of lighting that provide general lighting to an interior. This is one of the most common types of lighting. Ambient light is a soft glow that blankets your space just enough for you to function without causing a harsh glare. In photography and cinematography, ambient light is considered the “natural light” within a room. In décor, ambient light is very similar, except you create the ambient light by making the room’s lighting as natural and flat as possible. The goal of ambient lighting is to provide even, overall light to a room. This is most often accomplished with recessed lighting or a beautiful chandelier. Wall-mounted lighting like a sconce also provides ambient lighting.

Atmosphere: When used correctly, ambient light creates a fantastic environment to relax from an overly stressful day or to have a warm conversation with an old friend. Ambient lighting is often referred to as mood lighting. Always use dimmers with ambient lighting! This way you can adjust the lighting level based on the time of day or mood you’d like to create. You can have multiple circuits in a room so you can dim some lights while keeping others brighter.

Some ambient lighting choices include:

  • Ceiling lights: Ceiling lights are the most commonly used form of house lighting. Mounted flush to the ceiling, these lights provide low-light. They are typically attached to a wall switch.
  • Recessed lighting: When placed on a dimmer switch, recessed lighting can be used for ambient ceiling lighting. These work well with all types of ceilings, but if your ceiling is lower make sure the light isn’t too harsh for the room. Be careful not to over light the space.
  • Wall Sconces and Wall Lights: These are so versatile they work almost anywhere. Use these carefully. If you use too many in one location it may cause a harsher light, but when placed sparingly these works great in hallways, patios and porches.
  • Chandeliers: A chandelier is one of the most dramatic types of fixtures. These light fixtures work fantastic with taller ceilings. You can choose which height is best for your lighting need. Some chandelier designs provide both uplighting and downlighting.

Ceiling lighting at the centre of a bed room


Recessed lighting arranged orderly in a living room


Task lighting

Task lighting is necessary for tasks that require more light than ordinary ceiling lights can provide. Task lighting is beneficial when you’re working. This is a smaller more concentrated light. In fact, some people call it office lighting. Task lighting is meant to help you see when you’re doing projects in which you need a finer light, such as, reading, cooking, writing, sewing and many other things. Task lighting only works well when it is used as a contrasting light.

Atmosphere: Task lighting helps naturally stimulate your brain. The contrasting light allows you to be more alert and concentrated. This will help you see more details as you work, creating higher quality results. This is why many businesses choose to use task lighting in their offices.

Some task lighting choices include:

  • Under Cabinet and Vanity Lights. These are the ultimate task lights, typically mounted beneath a cabinet, They add a flare to your kitchen and give the extra light you need for chopping and cleaning, under cabinet lighting added to a kitchen, workshop or craft room provides excellent task lighting. Vanity lighting works well in the bathroom and on dressing mirrors. These lights also work in garages or workstations.
  • Pendant and Track Lighting: pendants are popular in kitchens and some bathroom designs. In the kitchen, use pendant lighting to illuminate cooking and food prep areas. Suspended from the ceiling, these lights provide direct overhead lighting to work areas. Track lights are great for the same reason, except they can typically cover a little more space. These lights are great for offices with rows of desks, above kitchen islands and in children’s play/homework areas.
  • Table, Swing Arm and Floor Lamps.: Stylish table lamps and floor lamps are perfect for this purpose in living areas and bedrooms. A table lamp can provide needed lighting for a desk work space, living room or bedside table. Swing arm lamps allow you to adjust the light anyway you’d like. Floor lamps are lightweight and adjustable, these are the ideal task lights.


Pendant lighting placed right above kitchen countertop


Floor lamp at the corner of a living room


Accent lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight specific areas, artwork, or various sections of a room. This is a very concentrated light with the intention of drawing the eye to its focal point. Accent lighting is a way of adding style and drama to your home. Accent lighting brings added visual interest to a room by creating different focal points and is another important element of lighting design. This will help you illuminate the pieces you want on display, while shadowing dull areas. Accent lighting highlights specific objects like art, sculptures, pieces of furniture, collections and bookcases. It can also be used to highlight a textured wall, or other architectural features. Outdoor accent lighting is when you highlight parts of the architecture of your home or yard. This is very popular during the holidays, especially Christmas and New year.

Atmosphere: Accent lighting is one of the types of lighting that creates a very sophisticated atmosphere. It evokes feelings of meaning and importance to the images it displays. This lighting type is used a lot for museums, historical buildings and art shows. Some accent aren’t made to shine on a particular object, but are themselves a piece of art with a self-contained light source. They serve as a piece of functional décor for a home.

Some accent lighting choices highlight specific areas, artwork, or various sections of a room:

  • Recessed Lighting and Spot Lighting: These lights are often used for wall washing (when you illuminate an entire wall with light). Recessed lighting are great for accenting. provides a subtle way to illuminate the perimeter of a room, add softer lighting to rooms, illuminate bookcases, or provide under cabinet lighting. Place them at the base of your wall to illuminate a beautiful brick texture, a colorful paint design or display a huge bay window.
  • Wall sconces: Wall sconces are fantastic for designing accent lighting. They come in a range of sizes that allow you the highlight big or small pieces of art. These work great on art walls and for showcasing the architecture of your space. Wall sconces are a great mood-setter for a room. Whether it provides uplighting or downlighting, this type of light fixture can brighten a hallway, provide additional lighting for a dining room buffet, or free up floor and surface space in a bathroom.
  • Track and Picture lighting: Track and picture lighting is still a favorite choice for many people wishing to highlight works of art. It can also be used to provide uplighting or downlighting. Art buffs enjoy picture lighting that can be place directly above a painting. This type of light fixture provides direct downlighting to highlight the work of art.
  • Landscape Lighting. These lights are the best for showing off the outside of your home. Use landscaping lighting to light up a pathway, prized garden or statue.


Track lighting focused on art work


Landscaping lighting showing the beautiful architecture of this mansion


Final words

By layering these three types of lighting (ambient, task and accent) in your home you will create a perfectly lit space. For multiple types of lighting options consider using a light dimmer. Dimmers help achieve any mood or look you’re looking for at the push of a button.


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Thompson Ani

Thompson Ani is an engineer and interior designer. He has received an Independence Magazine Publisher award, numerous nominations and is an Ambassador of Street Project Foundation. He strives to design unique interiors that will have a positive impact on his clients’ lives. With more than 5years of experience, he possesses an inmate desire to create and design interiors that exceeds clients’ expectations. With an eye for quality, a superior sense of style, and client-centered approach to business, Thompson Ani has proven himself of creativity, collaboration and forward thinking with a structured, organized and detailed mentality; enabling him to deliver focused development, follow through and total completion to each aspect of the design. He acts in the capacity of creative director and managing director for MAUL WORKS LIMITED. He led large-scale residential projects and partnered on mid to large-scale project in lagos as the lead designer and consultant.


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