A Quick Guide to Lighting Design

You often times read about the importance of lighting in interior design. When used strategically, it can elevate a space, guide our attention, and unify decorative elements. Lighting is a crucial element of interior design and, as such, should be well thought-out and executed. So, we prepared a quick guide to lighting design to get you started.

Types of Lighting

There are four main types of lighting. Let's go through them one by one.

Natural Lighting

Natural lighting refers to the amount of sunlight your space gets direct access to. If you live in a generally sunny climate and your home gets exposure to that light, you are in luck. It’s an endless source of light, making a room look brighter and feel bigger. Utilise this light smartly. For example, if you work from home, you should consider creating a work station by the window. According to research, natural light increases productivity, reduces eye strain, and helps us feel calmer. Check out the 11 Ways to Get More Natural Light to Dark Rooms.

Image source: Unsplash

However, not all natural light is the same. Depending on the orientation of your house and its specific rooms, you will get different levels of sun exposure. For example, south-facing rooms are the brightest, with a consistent beam of light during daytime. North-facing rooms, on the other hand, are the darkest. East-facing rooms will have the strongest sun exposure in the mornings, while west-facing ones – in the late afternoons.

General Lighting

General or ambient lighting is the type of lighting most people are familiar with. It provides a more or less evenly distributed light throughout a room without putting a particular item or space in a spotlight. Examples of general lighting would be chandeliers, wall sconces, and recessed ceiling lights.

What is important to remember is that ambient lighting is only the first layer. We often see home owners stop there, but that’s a mistake. Creating layers of lighting adds a flow to a room, steers our focus strategically, and hides a room’s weaknesses.

Task Lighting

Task lighting refers to the type of lighting that assists you in a certain activity. It illuminates a specific part of the room in order to help you accomplish a specific task. Examples of task lighting include vanity mirror lights, a desk lamp, lights above kitchen counters or on the bedside tables.

Task lighting is usually the second layer of lighting. It must always be incorporated in the planning stage of your interior design. While some lights – bedside or reading lamps – can be rather easily integrated when the renovation is over, others – kitchen counter or bathroom mirror lights – are a lot more difficult to build after the fact.

Check out this article for ideas on lighting your kitchen.

Accent Lighting

This is the last layer of lighting, intended to highlight a specific spot or item in a room – a painting, an entrance, or any other interesting architectural elements. Because it is meant to put a spotlight on a certain item, this light has a clear direction. Think of art galleries and the way each painting or sculpture has a dedicate lighting system. This is what you want to replicated in your home for a finished look.

Image source: Unsplash

However, don’t get carried away with accent lighting. You can’t put a spotlight on fifteen different items in a room. It disturbs the flow, confuses the eye, and wastes the decorative element of these items.

Types of Light Colours

Now that you have sketched out a map of the types of lighting you’d like to install in every room, think of the colour of these lights. Selecting the right temperature of colour is equally important. There are three measurements you want to pay attention to when buying light bulbs:

  • Lumen – measurement of brightness

  • Kelvin – measurement of colour

  • Watt – measurement of power consumption

Warm White

Soft or warm white is between 2700K and 3000K. It’s yellowish and is the most gentle type of light. It creates a cosy atmosphere, making it perfect for a living room or a dining area.

Neutral White

Neutral white is between 3500K and 4100K. You can use it in a kitchen or in a bathroom. It provides a higher contrast of colours than warm white, but is still relatively gentle.

Cool White

Cool white, or daylight, is between 5000K and 6500K. It’s a high-contrast white light that’s best for reading, applying makeup, or other intricate tasks.

For a more detailed breakdown of light colours, check out this useful table from integral LED.

Now that you are familiar with the types of lighting and various lighting colours, start designing your lighting. Evaluate your space in terms of sun exposure, identify areas that require task lighting, and add a layer of accent lighting to interesting architectural elements and pieces of art. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results!

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