How to Layer Your Lighting in 3 Quick and Easy Steps

When you decide to light your Carmel home in such a way that it looks like one of those indoor spaces featured in interior design or home improvement magazines, you begin to realize just how daunting the process of having beautiful light is.

While choosing and setting up our own lights can be difficult, it’s not impossible either. The most important thing to consider when choosing lights by yourself is to layer them, which basically means having multiple light sources at different levels in one room.

A basic lighting setup typically has 3 layers or lighting elements:

  • Ambient or general lighting
  • Task lighting or task-specific lighting
  • Accent lighting

We’ll go over what each layer means below:

1. Ambient Lighting

This is perhaps the most important layer because it lays the foundation for general illumination in any room.

As a rule of thumb, you want multiply the room’s length and width by 20 to figure out how many lumens of light are needed in the room (a lumen is the measure of a light’s brightness as perceived by the human eye).

Another method, albeit one that’s less accurate, is to measure the total square footage of your room.  Most homes will have recessed lighting or downlights for ambient lighting. In this case, you want one recessed light/downlight for every 4 square feet of ceiling. This should provide enough light to let you see what you’re doing without causing glare.

2. Task Lighting

Most homeowners only think of placing task lights in the kitchen or the garage—places where we often do a lot of work with our hands.

But task lights actually belong to any room in your home. Their primary use is not to illuminate the entire space, but to focus light on a specific area—think of bedside lamps near your bed or table lamps next to a reading chair. When these lights aren’t needed, simply switch them off.

It’s also important for task lights to be moveable and/or dimmable, which will improve their usability and ease of use. Color temperature, or the blueness or redness of a light source, also plays a big role in this area—it’s a good idea to match the color temperature of your task and ambient lights.

3. Accent lighting

Accent lights are like the finishing pieces of your lighting design, providing enough light to remove unsightly shadows or dark corners in a room. They can also be decorative pieces in their own right, with colors and finishes that add character to a room.

Examples of accent lights include uplights, which are great for highlighting paintings or wall art, as well as cabinets or shelves with collectables. You can also use sparkling chandeliers, which can make a living room or kitchen more luxurious.

When you bring these 3 elements together, you open the door to a world of options for customization. Remember these basics to create a well-lit room that looks like it’s been through the hands of an interior designer.