When lighting your home, you’ll want to keep in mind three different types of lighting within an overall lighting scheme—ambient, task and accent.
Ambient lighting is the general lighting for a room, usually achieved through overhead fixtures and lamps. Task lighting is light aimed specifically at a work area, such as a desk or countertop where you’ll want to see what you are doing.
After these two layers of light, however, comes accent lighting, which is softer light designed to add ambience and highlight features in the room, from art pieces to structural points.
In a lot of ways accent lighting is the most artistic and fun layer, allowing modern decorators to create a mood in your home and highlight your other decorating choices.
Even a working space such as kitchen and bathrooms have become places where accent lighting can provide a little atmosphere.
Traditionally, kitchens have been lit by a single overhead fixture. That could lead to shadows—especially cast by you yourself—on countertops and sinks. That where task lighting comes in.
Today, however, many homeowners want to create an atmosphere in the kitchen through accent lighting. At its best, however, accent lighting can also contribute to the overall general lighting of the kitchen and highlight features such as cabinetry and decorative touches.
Here’s some ideas for accent lighting in the kitchen:
Recessed lights can serve a dual purpose of adding to ambient light and task lighting by placing them over sinks, islands, cook tops, or prep areas where being able to see what you’re doing can be critical.
They can be wired on several switches so that all the fixtures can be on at one time when preparing a meal or fewer to allow for mood lighting. Dimmer switches can also help let you use the lights for work or atmosphere. They can also serve as a type of night lighting for middle of the night kitchen raids.
Under Cabinet Lights
Again, the use of modern LED lights and fluorescent light strips can combine accent lighting with task lighting. The fixtures can be wired to operate off of switches or be plugged into outlets and operated by a switch on each light. The lights are secured to the bottom of your wall cabinets where they can provide illumination directly over the countertop. Use of decorative trim can hide the strips creating an atmospheric feel.
Perimeter Ceiling Lighting
Perimeter ceiling lighting is installed around the perimeter of your kitchen or bath at the ceiling level and hidden by trim such as crown molding. There are many types of lighting available, including LED lighting and low-voltage xenon string lighting.
Many of the same techniques used in kitchen are now being applied to bathrooms.
For example, a small recessed spotlight directed at a piece of decorative art or a powder room basin creates another layer of light. A recessed shower fixture can be angled (most can be tilted up to 35 degrees at installation) to highlight tilework or fixtures.
Dimmers are also a great tool in bathrooms, especially if you want to create a nice relaxing mood for a hot bath. Keep in mind, however, that safety comes first in the bathroom and all lighting should be installed by professionals and be bright enough when needed to allow people to see what they are doing.
In other areas of the home, accent lighting is only limited by your own ideas. From picture lights and small spotlights that accent artwork and shelves to track lighting, you can use light to create a completely different feeling in your home.
Track lighting is especially versatile as depending on its placement, can serve as all three types of lighting.
Perimeter lighting and the use of smaller overhead lights—such as pendent light—can also provide both ambient and accent lighting.
And don’t forget outdoor accent lighting. Lighting that illuminates paths and walkways is a start, but done right, landscape lighting makes the best of what you’ve got by highlighting your home’s architectural features and drawing attention to prized plantings and trees.
Options for this lighting include spotlights—which can best be used low to the ground to under light trees and your home’s architecture—and LED light strips to light walkways.
The main point of accent lighting is to highlight the best parts of your home. You’ve worked hard to decorate and landscape your home. Show it off in the best possible light.
Do you live in Gloucester County and have an accent electrical project in mind? Call us at 856.769.3932.