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Interior lighting can make or break the look and feel of a home. Deciding on the type of indoor lighting can feel like a daunting task when there are so many options out there for you to choose from. With everything from mood lighting to ceiling lighting to pendant lighting to wall lighting, decorative lighting is a broad spectrum. There are even energy-efficient lighting options for you to think about when selecting your lights. Below, we will break down the different kinds of interior lighting there are to choose from while also exploring how to incorporate it into your home.
How To Light Your Home Interior With Ambient Lighting
As mentioned, ambient lighting is the primary light in any given space and usually comes in the form of ceiling lights and floor lamps. Including ambient light in the room should be to create general lighting, not something that is overly dazzling or bright. It instead is often a bit soft and provides a general glow that can be enhanced with layered lighting after the fact.
Here are a few tips on adding ambient lighting to your space:
- Use ambient lighting in every room of the house and try to place it in the centre of the room closer to the ceiling to diffuse light easier.
- Use a floor lamp that will balance out the height of the ambient lighting in the space. This is particularly good for dark areas like an armchair in the corner of a room.
- Make the light indirect. Instead of relying on the light as the main source, use it as a soft glow in the background.
- Think about lights other than downlights, as those are less common due to their ability to create shadows.
- Consider lumens instead of wattage when choosing the ambient lighting for your space.
Where To Use Task Lighting in the Home
Task lighting, as mentioned, exists to help you perform activities in specific spaces. This can include reading, crafting, working, studying or partaking in hobbies. For many reasons, task lighting is important, and you will find it in common workspaces. This includes:
- IN THE KITCHEN. Place task lighting below the cabinets, above the countertops, above the island and above breakfast nooks.
- IN THE LIVING AND BEDROOMS. Incorporate lights into these spaces in the form of reading lamps.
- IN THE HOME OFFICE. Desk lamps are a common type of task lighting commonly found in workspaces.
- IN THE BATHROOM. Vanity lighting in the bathroom provides greater levels of lighting for you to prepare for your day.
Below are some quick tips for choosing task lighting:
- Keep brightness in mind, as their main purpose is to give you more light to perform tasks.
- Consider bulbs and fixtures that allow you to dim and brighten the light according to your needs at any given time.
- Keep colour temperature in mind. Cooler lights are better for bathroom vanity lights, while warmer lamps are easier on the eyes and better for reading.
What Is Accent Lighting and How To Make it Work for You
The other main type of LED lighting is accent lighting. This lighting is used to create focal points in a room while also serving as decorative pieces. Effective accent lighting pulls the attention to the item of choice without drawing too much attention to what exactly is lighting it. Accent lighting serves a few common purposes:
- Drawing attention to plants or artwork
- Drawing attention to various architectural features
- Simply as decorative lighting
Some tips to use accent lighting include:
- Provide three times as much illumination toward the area you want to highlight as opposed to the rest of the space.
- Put emphasis on form over function in the case of lights purely meant to decorate.
- Go bold with decorative accent lighting to make a statement in your space.
Do’s and Don’ts With Interior Lighting
Below are a few quick tips on things to keep in mind when lighting your interior:
- Layer the lighting using ambient lights, accent lights and task lights where possible.
- Choose lights that shine upward in spaces where you want a more flattering level of illumination
- Make it possible to control the different types of lights separately
- Consider lumens for brightness levels instead of wattages
- Think about the kind of colour temperature you need in each area of the room
- Forget to include dimmer switches when possible
- Hang lights too low to the ground
- Give in to the urge to just install recessed lighting as often as possible
- Choose a light based on its appearance alone
- Buy an ambient light that is glaringly bright
There are many different types of LED interior lights that you have available to you. Below, we will take a look at some of the most common ones:
- RECESSED LIGHTS. Recessed lights are commonly used as LED indoor lights. They are lights that are fully contained inside of a floor, ceiling or wall. Most commonly, you will find them in the ceilings. They lay flush with the surface and only have the light bulb and the surrounding fixture protruding from it with a low profile.
- TRACK LIGHTS. Track lights are LED downlights that are mounted on the ceiling, usually on a long bar or “track.” They point downward and often have movable heads that you can use to direct the illumination to a certain place. Due to their ability to shine directed light and their modern appearance, many people like to use them to highlight features in the home or art on the walls.
- PENDANT LIGHTING. Pendant lights are a common choice for LED ambient lighting. Pendant lights get their name from being similar to a pendant necklace, where the actual light fixture hangs from a chain or cable and serves as the pendant. They are simple to set up and can make for some pretty dramatic lighting opportunities.
- WALL SCONCES. Incorporating LED wall lighting into the home is an important part of layering lights. These lights attach to the wall and are particularly beneficial for installing in darker areas of the home where ambient and task lighting have a hard time reaching. They are common in hallways and near side tables.
- AMBIENT LIGHTING. Ambient lighting is one of the three major types of indoor lighting and is responsible for providing most of the light around the room. Anything that is bright and powerful enough to light up the entire room can be considered ambient lighting. Usually, this is a ceiling light, but it can also be a fair size floor lamp.
- TASK LIGHTING. LED task lighting is designed to be used for specific tasks and is common over kitchen sinks, islands, countertops, desks or in reading nooks. Task lighting most commonly comes in the form of under cabinet lighting, desk lamps, LED wall lights and table lamps.
- ACCENT LIGHTING. Accent lighting can draw attention to certain features in the home. Track lighting is only one example of this type of light. You can also use sconces, lamps and hanging lights to draw attention to different areas of the home. You will also see accent lighting as recessed lights, picture lighting, cove lighting and wall sconces. Designer lighting is often a good choice for accent lighting.
Mood lighting is exactly what it sounds like: lighting that sets a mood or atmosphere in a given space. Mood lighting makes a room pleasant for the eyes and relaxing to be in while also eliminating shadows that are usually caused by the ambient lights. Without bright, glaring lights, the room can feel more comfortable, cosy and inviting.
This type of light tends to be closest to the eye level, such as in the form of lamps on tables, so it’s a good idea to have a diffuser or shade on the lamp to keep things soft and free of glare. Putting mood lighting just above eye level will provide illumination to the room without being uncomfortable for the eyes. It will also be more flattering for those in the space since it doesn’t create shadows. Mood lighting is good to have around for nights you are relaxing and don’t need any bright task lights or ample ambient lighting.
Wall lights are especially good for mood lighting as they can create a gentle spread of indirect, soft light. Using uplights will send the light up a wall, not only drawing attention to a certain space but also lighting the area indirectly. Floor lamps can also set a mood, as they will create a more defined space to relax, such as by a chair. In the dining room, a floor lamp will create a warm atmosphere for socialising and dining.
Bedroom mood lighting happens with table lamps and reading lights as the lighting source. In the kitchen, you can install plinth lighting. The light will shine up from the kickboards, giving you enough light to see as you walk through the space at night without being too bright.
Speaking of brightness, dimmer switches are important to consider. Dimmer switches make it possible for you to lower the level of light to a comfortable level throughout the evening and night.
LED lights are indeed able to be dimmed. It requires that you use a transformer or driver to channel the amount of electricity needed by the LED light. If you don’t use the right transformer, there may not be enough consistent power to the lights. This can cause the light to flicker. You can tell if a bulb is dimmable at all by reading the package that the light comes in or the description on the website from which you purchase it. To be able to dim the lights, you will need to install a dimmer.
LED colour temperature refers to the “colour” of light that a bulb produces, from warm to cool. The colour temperature is measured in units Kelvin. The lower the Kelvin rating, the warmer the light; the higher the rating, the cooler the light will be. Colour temperatures range from around 1000k to 7000k, though the most common lighting range is between 3200k and 6000k.
When it comes to colour temperatures for your home, many people prefer warm white lights with a colour temperature of around 3300k. This lighting is best for living rooms, bedrooms and other spaces you spend a lot of time in. It is gentler on the eyes while still being bright enough to easily see.
On the other hand, some people prefer cooler light with a 6000k colour temperature rating for bathrooms and kitchens. This light provides a brighter, crisper and bluer light by which to work. It shows the colours of the items it illuminates more accurately and gives off a cleaner, more modern appearance. Warm light tends to be cosier and has hints of reddish or yellow colours.
Ultimately, it will come down to your preferences. Whatever you choose, be sure you go with one or the other. Having both warm and cool lights in a space can clash and be quite unattractive.
LED lights last much longer than traditional bulbs. Where halogen bulbs, for instance, tend to last about 1,000 hours, you can expect LED lights to last for a minimum of 20,000 hours. This will save you plenty of time and money on maintenance and replacements, so you can put that energy toward decorating and lighting other aspects of your home.
Interior lighting plays a massive role in the look and feel of your space. By layering accent, ambient and task lighting with proper lumen levels and colour temperatures, you can transform the way your space looks. Above, we have explored different types of interior lighting. We have also answered a few common questions about lighting while offering tips on how to incorporate it into your home.