When you start devising a lighting plan for your home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You need overhead lighting in your kitchen, but what kind — recessed, pendant, chandelier? How do you know what works where?
As a starting point, think about including lighting layers in every room: ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Ambient lighting provides an overall uniform light in a room. Task lighting is used to aid specific tasks, such as under-counter lighting in a kitchen, desk lamps in an office or floor lamps in a reading nook. Accent lighting is used to draw attention to an architectural detail, piece of art, plant or any other feature. Once you’ve identified the layers of lighting you need for a room, you’ll have an easier time choosing the types of lighting that best suit your space.
Here’s a lighting guide to help get you started.
Flush light fixtures
Flush light fixtures mount flat to the ceiling and are a good option for spaces that need a single overhead light, such as an entryway, closet, small bedroom or bathroom.
Recessed lighting is useful in larger rooms where you’d like your overhead lighting to be discrete, like a kitchen or living room. It should be used in combination with other layers of lighting so that the room does not appear too sterile. Lighting experts advise that your room must have six feet of space above the ceiling for recessed lights.
Pendant lights are suspended from the ceiling and focus light downward. They come in a plethora of decorative styles, from the simple to ornate. Pendant lights are most often used over kitchen islands, dining tables, in entryways or in a large bathroom.
Track lighting is a strip of several lights that can be aimed in different directions. The track is either suspended from or mounted to the ceiling and is usually used for accent or task lighting, although in a bathroom or small kitchen can be used as ambient lighting.
Chandeliers are suspended from the ceiling and focus their light upward, which can be used as an ambient layer. Grand chandeliers make a statement in an entryway, over a table, in a bedroom or large bathroom.
Use under-cabinet lights in a kitchen as task lighting for food prep.
Indirect ceiling lighting
For a modern aesthetic, indirect lighting is installed in strips around the ceiling, generally hidden by crown molding.
Lamps can function as almost any layer of lighting and are the most versatile light source. Lamps are best suited for living areas, office spaces, and bedrooms and can function as task or accent lighting.
Sconces are usually mounted in pairs to the wall and are mostly used as decorative or task lighting. Sconces can be mounted on either side of a fireplace, bathroom mirror, bed or exterior door. Sconces can provide a good source of light in hallways and stairwells.
Don’t forget to consider adding sources of natural light to your room through windows, French doors or skylights.
Despite the many options, choosing lighting for your home doesn’t have to be a complicated task. When formulating a plan for lighting, think of your needs in each room in terms of ambient, task and accent layers, and then choose lights that fit each category and suit the size and style of your space. You will be amazed how transformative great lighting can be.