A significant yet one of the most overlooked elements that create a quality interior design is lighting. Ambiance and aesthetics can be transformed using lighting for better or for worse. It can turn a shabby room into a glossy-magazine-worthy space or it can under- or over-illuminate resulting in headaches, tired eyes, and lighting fatigue.
American interior designer Albert Hadley once intimated
“Design is defined by light and shade, and appropriate lighting is enormously important.”
Lighting fixtures create a safe and comfortable environment and at the same time complements the style and décor. The lighting transforms the mood of a room completely. Moreover, placement and type are important aspects of interior design, and they work hand in hand with color schemes, room size, availability of natural light, and furniture selection. With the right lighting in a space, a seamless combination of functionality and style can be achieved.
So, here are some points to bear in mind while deciding on the type of lighting you want for your space to achieve a balance of style and functionality.
General lighting is the basic foundation of a lighting scheme, providing a uniform glow over an entire room and illuminating a space functionally rather than for aesthetic reasons.
A luxury chandelier or artistic installations both make for a great visual statement in a room. It can be accompanied by other lighting layers. But it is considered vastly inadequate for creating a welcoming space and gives no real life to a room.
The next layer of lighting is ambient lighting which is a great partner to general lighting. Both types share an important characteristic – they’re primarily functional and used to light a complete area.
It is indirect and softer than general lighting. It doesn’t create unflattering shadows and is often used to alter the appearance or size of a space.
Ambient lighting is generally used for entertaining – it creates drama.
As the name suggests, task lighting is any light source used for a particular task like reading or cooking. These lights need to have a strong wattage than most other lighting. Always combine with adequate ambient light, however, to avoid eye strain caused by the sharp contrast from light to dark areas.
Reading and working areas are some of the obvious areas in need of task lighting. Task lighting can also be used to create foot flow paths in a room or hallway or riser lights on stairs.
Mood lighting makes a room pleasantly inviting by creating pools of light that counteract the shadows caused by general lighting. It tends to be equally concerned with style as it is with the function of a room – popular options being table lamps and floor lamps.
For mood lighting, bulbs with lower wattage are preferred, to softly illuminate the room.
Accent lighting highlights a particular feature in a room. Spotlights, an example of accent lighting, tends to enhance the feature and prevent them from being lost in an under-illuminated space.
Accent lighting needs more lumens (the light output) – at least three times as much – and therefore requires a higher wattage.
However, accent lighting is more subtle and highlights texture and defines perimeters.
It is one of the most popular forms of lighting in interiors. It casts an unflattering shadow (especially for people) and needs to be counterbalanced with adequate ambient lighting.
Downlights come in all sorts of forms that give a narrow beam that spreads down to the floor. They are recessed or semi-recessed and maybe a feature or extremely discreet.
Uplighting is a much softer alternative to downlighting as it indirectly introduces light into a room by having it bounce off the ceiling and reflect into the room.
They can be freestanding or mounted directly to the wall and either fully shrouded or have a translucent shade giving an overall ambient light as well as a reflected light.
Wall washing evenly softly illuminates a vertical surface.
Wall grazing effectively highlights the texture of a surface with a light laid close to it intentionally.
Spotlighting illuminates a particular feature of a room brilliantly.
This runs along the periphery of the room and emphasizes the dimensions of a room and expands its apparent size.
Coving or cornice lighting is an effective way to do the same.
A kitchen must-have adequate lighting.
If you have a kitchen island, opt for task lighting – for example, pendant lights – to make cutting and preparing food easier. You can also install under cabinet lighting for the same purpose, but make sure you choose either a diffused light source to avoid reflected glare on shiny countertops, or LED lighting for matte surfaces.
Another lighting design tip for kitchens is to incorporate recessed ceiling lights. They can be placed on either side of a range hood to frame the focal point of the room, or above open kitchen shelving.
The dining area is where most of the gathering takes place and should be as welcoming as possible, and the best way to achieve that is to install a statement light above the dining table.
A chandelier or pendant light(s) will do the trick, but do not limit the lighting to just that. Wall sconces, track lighting, and recessed lights work well in dining areas to provide extra lighting, so do not hesitate to include those in your lighting design.
The bathroom is probably the place where you start your day, from getting ready for the day to grooming yourself, thus they demand adequate lighting.
Proper lighting can make all the difference in a bathroom.
Placing sconces at eye level on either side of a mirror is the correct way to light up the vanity area. The accent lighting above the tub gives the area a warm and calming glow whereas toe kick lighting underneath the base cabinets can provide illumination at night.
The living room serves many different purposes. It can be used to watch TV, read, play board games, and entertain guests, so you need to make sure how you want to use the space to plan for lighting.
Task lighting behindthe couch or armchair is useful to read in the living room. If you have a great piece of art to show off you can use accent lighting.
If you plan on installing an overhead fixture or recessed lighting, make sure they are dimmable to suit different activities.
The best lighting design tip for bedrooms is that you are not restricted to just one ceiling light fixture. There are a variety of bedroom lighting options that can create a warm, relaxing, and inviting atmosphere.
For example, instead of a ceiling light fixture, you can opt for low-hanging pendant lights or sconces on either side of the bed. You don’t need to eliminate the ceiling light though. You can complement a beautiful ceiling light fixture with a pair of table lamps on each nightstand. Light symmetry works wonders in a bedroom.
Lighting is the key element for interiors and should not be neglected. Proper lighting design adds elegance, sophistication, and style to your home.
Whether it’s a retro, vintage, contemporary or modern theme that you’re aiming for, give your potential lighting options the right time and effort in regards to the overall feel and finish of the space to acquire satisfaction and perfection that you desire.
Be creative, be imaginative but be practical; choose the correct lighting for your space, the one that elevates its beauty and charm. It can be the apocalypse or the essence of the room. And as it was said: “Let there be light”.