Light Layering - the basics...

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The correct use of lighting will improve the look and functionality of a space. The trick is to use a variety of lighting sources to make the space feel attractive, comfortable, warm and inviting. There is no single light fixture that can do this on its own however; to achieve it we need to use the right type of lighting in the right situation.

Lighting fixtures are designed to perform four basic functions:

Ambient Lighting or general lighting, is the overall illumination from a light source already present in a space. It is a gentle, comfortable, consistent level of light fill that is without excessive brightness or glare. It should soften shadow and create a warm, cozy glow. Sources of ambient light include illumination that is bounced off the ceiling, opaque wall sconces, torchières, hanging pendant fixtures, and cove lighting.

Task Lighting is lighting which is increased in a area where certain tasks or work is performed, such as under cabinet lighting in kitchens, or reading lamps.

Accent Lighting is used to add depth and dimension and draw attention to interesting objects such as artwork and photos. Recessed lighting, track lights, up-lights are examples.

Decorative Lighting has little actual function beyond looking beautiful. But interior designers agree, decorative lighting is an essential part of contemporary decor. Modern styles use elegant contours, attractive luminosity and fragments of transparent glass to showcase the luminosity, add a touch of sophistication, provide a spacious feel and harmonize the room’s style and design elements. Few things make as dramatic a statement that will impress visitors to your home as much as an exceptionally designed, brilliantly-lit chandelier or ceiling fixture over the dining room table.

The right light fixture is designed to enhance the atmosphere of a space during the day and provide soft, warm illumination throughout the evening that's conducive to the relaxation and comfort of the occupants and guests. Layering and using these four types of lighting functionality will help you appreciate how layers of light can work together to improve your space.

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Jeremy Holt