For those of you that are handling their own lighting design, my blog covers a bit of basic training this week.   For simplicity, light fittings tend to be grouped into three main types of lights.  These three main types are:

  1. Ambient lighting is also commonly referred to as general lighting. It is that type of lighting which gives us a general level of functional lighting in a room.  It is the type of lighting that allows you to navigate a room safely without bumping into things.  Ambient light is often created by the more evenly illuminating types of light fittings, such as a multi armed ceiling pendant or a pendant shade that diffuses light in all directions throughout the room.  Another frequently used type of ambient lighting in the UK is ceiling downlights spread out so that they create a fairly even level of light.

Glass ceiling light in conservatoryGlass ceiling light in loungeLounge lighting by Sam Coles Lighting

  1. Task lighting is that which homes in on a specific area of a room to assist in doing something in particular, such as cooking reading, shaving or making up. Examples are desk lamps, floor standing reading lamps, illuminated magnifying mirrors, wash basin wall lights, above mirror shaver lights, under wall cabinet lights, adjustable wall mounted bedside reading lights or library lights, pendants over kitchen islands and pendants over dining tables.

Bedside table lightKitchen island

  1. Accent lighting is also commonly referred to as highlighting or feature lighting. It is the most important type of lighting to create visual interest in rooms.  The highlights it creates draws attention towards focal points in a room such as architectural features and artwork.  As this type of lighting often tends to be smaller sized, sprinkled around a room and usually produces lower levels of light the accent lighting often forms a major part of what many people refer to as “mood” lighting.  By its nature it’s never going to fully and evenly illuminate a room.  Often it is the complete opposite of ambient lighting.

Floor lighting by Sam Coles LightingAttractive lighting around swimming pool

A lighting designer uses a combination of these 3 types of lights to make rooms look their best and to function optimally.  I call this process “layering light” and I plan more than one type of lighting into most of the rooms in my projects.

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