Lighting, the Overlooked Design Element

When we think of Interior Design and/or Decorating, we often think of color, texture, and patterns in furniture, fabric, floors, countertops, and fun pillows. Too often the most important element of lighting is left out.  Without the correct lighting you will not be able to enjoy all the other elements that make a space beautiful.  You also must consider that most of what we see of light is what is reflective from the surrounding space, not the light itself.  So, it’s important to bring in the lighting element very early on in the design process.

There are two basic sources for lighting; natural and artificial.  Both play a key role to the design of any project.  The lighting in the room will serve one of three purposes: ambient, task, and accent.  Often times we are only using one of the three, which really does a disservice to the space itself.  We will go over each purpose and help you fill in the gaps.

Ambient Lighting

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Ambient lighting is the primary lighting, and all others fall in around that.  It’s what creates the mood for the space. When you walk into a restaurant known for it’s romantic setting, the lights will be low, creating that mood that couples expect from a romantic dinner out.  In contrast, if you go to an In N’ Out restaurant the lights are bright, so you’ll buy, eat, and leave.

In your home you have to ask yourself, “What mood would I like to set in this particular space?”  The master bedroom will be much different than the kitchen.  Ambient lighting is usually provided by a fixed light fixture in the center of the room, or a number of recessed ceiling lights.  Just remember, lighting that shines directly from above adds shadows to the face and actually makes you look older (Yikes!).  So, if you do have an overhead light, put a dimmer switch to soften the shadows.

Task Lighting

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Task lighting provides a direct beam concentrated to one specific area for a specific task; like reading, crafts, or food preparation.  They can either be fixed, like a pendant over a kitchen island, or mobile like a desk lamp.  The position of task lighting is important because the source of the light should be invisible to eliminate glare.  You should also have the light in front, or to the side of a person, to prevent shadows from falling over the work area, making it difficult to see.

Accent Lighting

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Accent lighting is decorative and used for visual effect.  This is where lighting can be a lot of fun and really make a statement.  It can be set in the floor, ceiling, or walls to enhance the different elements in the room like artwork, shelves, collectables, or a feature wall.  It can also be a decorative lamp on an entry table or something as simple as white Christmas lights on top of kitchen cabinets to create a beautiful glow without the source of the light being seen.

 

Another factor to consider when choosing your lighting is the wall colors.  A dark wall will absorb any light so it’s best to have the light shine up and reflect off the white ceiling, instead of down toward the floor.  In contrast, light walls will reflect light making it easier to light an entire room. The use of dimmers is helpful in creating a pleasing atmosphere if the light is too harsh.

Good lighting design can turn a boring room into a room that’s full of atmosphere and interest.  It can be direct, reflected, shaded, covered, or open and it can be placed at floor, eye level, or ceiling. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

So the next time you plan out a space, be sure to include the most important element, lighting.  If you need help Blooming Daisy would love to help!  Click here to book your Design Consultation.

10 thoughts on “Lighting, the Overlooked Design Element”

  1. Very nice CTA! Well written and good information. You need to do a follow-up to this on ceiling height and lighting lengths (scale) for chandeliers and pendants. Great info!

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