Creating a functional lighting layout requires careful planning and consideration. There is not a one size fits all approach to lighting, every space is different. The best lighting arrangements combine three types of light: ambient, task and accent. By using all three lighting styles together, your space will be properly illuminated for safety, functionality and comfort.
1. General or Ambient Lighting
Ambient lighting fills spaces with an comfortable, even level of illumination. Ambient light levels change throughout the time of day and season. Correct ambient lighting allows enough light to safely use the space without being too dim or glaring. The American Lighting Association states "a central source of ambient light in all rooms is fundamental to a good lighting plan." Ambient lighting can also serve as a compelling design element. Examples of ambient lighting are chandeliers, flush mounts/semi flush mounts, sconces, recessed and track lighting.
Localized, directional and bright are the three words we would use to describe task lighting. It's for reading, cooking, grooming and other occasional activities that require more than just an ambient glow to complete. It should provide ample illumination and produce no glare or shadows. Proper use of task lighting will not only increase focus but also reduce the risk of eye strain. Examples of task lighting are desk lamps, undercabinet lighting, and pendants.
Accent lighting is the final piece of the puzzle. It creates visual interest and is used to draw attention to artwork, architectural details and other noteworthy elements in a space. The American Lighting Association reccomends "accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it." Examples of accent lighting are recessed, track, picture lights.