Lighting can make or break an interior. The correct use of illumination is critical to achieving the right look and feel of any space. Light is the most pivotal component of being able to perceive the world around us. Without light there is no colour. Without light there is no form. Lighting is critical in how we perceive a space and even how we feel and act in that space. Lighting can affect our mood, our sense of security and even decisions that we make. It’s essential that you engage the services of an Interior Designer and/or a Lighting Designer. They will also have technical and product knowledge on the fittings, the correct light output and the technology used to ensure energy efficiency.
The initial step to be made when selecting lights is to determine what the space you are to light is used for. Once this is established, the quantity of lights, the light quality, the light brightness and the direction of lighting will be determined. There are three main forms of lighting used in Interiors. First, is ambient lighting, second is task lighting and thirdly accent lighting.
Ambient lighting is used to provide a general or overall level of light in a space. Its purpose is to provide an even spread of light throughout a room. Ambient lights are the first layer used when lighting a space. Generally this is lighting you can’t immediately detect, such as down lights in the ceiling. Ambient lights are used to help us navigate around a space. There is a tendency to use too many down lights in an interior, which can over-light a space and make it uncomfortable. As ambient lighting is the base for your lighting to scheme, it is vital that you do not create too bright a space by the use of too many down lights, or else ensure that they are on a dimmer to help achieve the desired level of light.
The next layer to add on top of the ambient lighting is Task lighting. Task light is exactly that, it is used to perform a task. It is used to help make the completion of a task easier and ease eye strain. For example in a kitchen, task lighting makes sure that your work space is well lit for tasks such as reading a recipe book, or chopping vegetables. Generally task lighting in a kitchen is under the overhead cabinets, shining on top of the bench top.
In other areas of a house, floor lamps might be used as task lighting, near a chair or bed, to assist with reading a book in the evenings. A number of different styles can be used to create task lighting. Some lighting may be fixed, such as those mentioned in the kitchen, or they could be movable such as floor or table lamps. There are several points to consider when selecting task lighting. Adjustability is important so that you can direct the light exactly where you need it. To avoid glare it is important that the task light is situated to the side of the task. Task lights help you to see without the use of strong ambient lighting; however it’s important to remember that using a task light as a sole source of light can infact strain your eyes.
On top of ambient and task lighting, the next main source of lighting in an interior is called accent lighting. This controlled source of lighting serves to highlight or emphasize important objects. Accent lighting can create drama and define a focal point. The exact location of an accent light needs to be given careful consideration. Consider what exact item you are looking to draw attention to. Accent lighting can be used to highlight artwork, a special painting, a column or even a texture on a feature wall.
Not typically considered one of the top three components of lighting, it is certainly one of the most important in how a room scheme is pulled together, and that is decorative lighting. A decorative light must be given equal treatment with how you would select a piece of furniture. Decorative lighting can really make or break a room’s aesthetic. For example, consider the opposing effects an ostentatious chandelier and a modern streamlined designer pendant above a dining table creates. Places typically treated, though not limited to, with a decorative light are above the kitchen island, above a dining room table, in a master walk-in robe, and increasingly in bathrooms. Types of decorative lights range from pendant lights to wall sconces. It’s important to look at size, proportion, colour and material when selecting a decorative light.
So, engage an expert and show them around your home. Identify together what requirements each room has and make some selections together on the best lights to use. The use of the correct lighting will quite literally light up your life!