By Viktor Chong
People who are unschooled in the ways of interior design may assume that lighting is necessary only to allow adequate vision in the house. Ambient light definitely fulfils such low requirements, but to take interior design a little further, we need to understand the three basic types of lighting, their functions, and how to play with them. The effort of uniting them together is called layering, and this combination of different intensities and colour will make a truly engaging, functional and beautiful environment.
Ambient light is the main source of lighting in your house. This general, foundational lighting is usually engaged through an overhead light source centred in the room. Its purpose is functional, allowing occupants to discern their surroundings and to perform daily activities in the room without any visual inhibition.
With ambient light, the rule is simple—lighting should be good enough to get the gist of an area, but not too bright to disturb your mood. A simple thumb rule suggests approximately one light for every four square feet of ceiling.
As the name suggests, task lighting serves the practical purpose of providing illumination to perform your work. Desk lamps, reading lamps, and kitchen cabinet lighting all come under the task lighting category. Since task lightning is focus-oriented, it should always be brighter than the ambient light in the room.
If the light in the surrounding is more intense than your task light, then there really is no reason to have a desk lamp in the first place, unless its presence serves an aesthetic purpose. Here, adjustability is important as you need to manipulate your light giving source as according to the nature of your work. Choose portable fixtures with movable arms, and ensure that the lamp has a built-in dimming capability so that the intensity of the light can be changed accordingly.
Here is where you break the rules. Accent lighting, unlike the previous two, acts more as an element of aesthetics than a provider of vision. It accentuates beauty, sets the mood in a particular space, or to highlight interesting architectural structures in your interior design.
Strategic uplighting gives your display of expensive china a mysterious, museum-like quality, while bulbs in diffusers cast a mellow, romantic atmosphere over a dining table for two. With accent lighting, form can take precedence over function.
For example, Edison bulbs lack light output but radiate with a soft, inner glow, that can be very attractive. The design of the case holding the light source is equally important if you are attempting to showcase your style.
You can also position your lighting in a way to cast shadows on the corners, which softens the edges of your house. Accent lighting is art, and with art, there are no right or wrong, just preferences in the face of a multitude of choices.
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