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Interior Lighting

Updated on June 7, 2013

The lighting of the rooms of your home is one of the most important considerations you can make when considering interior design. It is no exaggeration to say that the correct interior lighting can make all the difference in a room’s atmosphere. A room lit correctly will be a room you and your family, not to mention your guests, will want to spend time in. On the other hand, the wrong interior lighting will cause a room to be underused and under appreciated.

Given this importance, it will be helpful to do a little planning when it comes to your interior lighting. Below are just a few tips on what to consider when coming up with your interior lighting plan. Remember, the right interior lighting will make for a room you will want to spend time in.

Interior Lighting can enhance the mood and look of your house.
Interior Lighting can enhance the mood and look of your house.

The Types of Interior Lighting

There are three basic types of interior lighting, and these three types are based on the function of the light fixtures. First, you have the general ambient lighting, the fixtures that provide overall lighting to a room or part of a room. The overhead ceiling light is the fixture that comes to most people’s mind when considering general ambient lighting. Chandeliers, larger floor lamps, and recessed lighting fixtures may also fit into the category of ambient lighting.

The second category of interior lighting is task lighting. Task lights do what their name says they do: perform particular lighting tasks in the room. This may include lights that are targeted for reading or working or recessed lighting installed in the bottoms of kitchen cabinets to aid in food preparation.

Finally, the third variety of interior lighting is accent lighting. Accent lighting provides lighting highlights for certain areas of a room or for certain objects in the room. A spot light that illuminates a piece of artwork would be considered accent lighting, as would track lighting that shows off a curio cabinet and its prized objects. Accent lighting can provide an interplay of light and shadow in a room that adds interest and comfort to the eye.

Interior Lighting Design

Interior designers will tell you that the best design plan for just about any room in your house will include lighting from all three types of fixtures: accent lighting, task lighting, and ambient lighting. The key to much of your interior design lighting will be to create triangles of light.

The concept of lighting triangles basically means that light coming from several directions at once is the most functional, as well as the most beautiful, light. For example, a room that is lit from above by a chandelier, from the sides by recessed lighting, and from a lower level by table or other lamps will be a room that uses interior lighting to its best effect. The places where these lighting sources intersect are not only well lit and thus very functional, they are also spots of loveliness and interest in the room. A room in which there occurs this triangulation of lighting several or many times is often the most comfortable and beautiful room in the home. It can thus become one of the most well used rooms in the house.

Interior Lighting for Specific Rooms

Certain rooms in the house will call for certain interior lighting plans to best utilize that space. The living room or family room will require task lighting for reading or doing homework, but will probably be well served by accent lighting or low level ambient lighting for watching the television or for relaxation. The installation of dimmer switches on overhead lights, track lights, or recessed lighting will let you precisely control how much light you want at any given time.

The kitchen needs to be well lit for the purposes of preparing meals. A strong overhead light is probably a good idea in the kitchen, as are a number of task lights. Recessed lighting in the undersides of cabinets can flood countertops in useful light. A chandelier suspended over the kitchen or dining room table is an elegant and sophisticated interior lighting choice.

The bathroom should not be left out of your interior lighting design plans. You will need strong light for personal grooming that does not cast shadows. Often the best choice for this are task lights on either side of the mirror. When entertaining, it is often nice to dim the lights in the bathroom by using recessed lighting that is fit behind molding just below the ceiling. Light for the shower can be provided by recessed lighting.

To reiterate, interior lighting is best accomplished using a variety of lighting fixtures and plans. Of course, don’t forget natural light coming through windows and skylights! Make each of the rooms in your house places you will want to spend time in by investing in good interior lighting.


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