Top Tips for How To Think About Lighting Design In Any Space

Perhaps not the first thing you think of when designing your new space (unless, of course, one of the issues you have with your current space is poor lighting), but lighting design plays a crucial role in not just how your space looks and feels, but also how it can be used when all is said and done.

Here are our top tips for how to think about lighting your space.

Three Types of Lighting

While there are an endless variety of light fixture options to choose from today, there are really only three types of lighting to consider: ambient, task, and accent. Once you have determined what type of lighting you want, finding the right fixtures becomes a matter of taste and style.

Ambient lighting is really the foundation for any space. This type of lighting has broad reach, and should cast a fairly even hue. A designer will often combine this with other light sources to provide multiple layers of light, and give more flexibility to the homeowner in use. Common ambient light fixtures are chandeliers, flush-mount, track lights, recessed lighting or cans, and floor lamps.

Remember those thriller movies where the detective does research in a library under a small green lamp? That lamp is a task light. Task lighting is powerful but doesn’t have a broad reach as it serves to light up only a specific area such as your dining table or kitchen island, the desk in your home office, or your bathroom mirror. Fixtures commonly used for task lighting are pendants, sconces, slimline bars, tape lights, and desk lamps.

And last, but definitely not least, is accent lighting – ideal for homeowners who appreciate beauty. Designers use it to highlight a collection, artwork, plants, or architectural features. The best accent lighting provides three times stronger light than an ambient lighting. Popular accent fixtures are slimline bar, tape, wall-mounted fixtures, and recessed lighting.

Textural Tranquility Bathroom designed by Ashley Fitch
Create layers of light with a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting. Design: Textural Tranquility by Ashley Fitch. 

Let’s Talk Lighting Design By Room

Everybody does home a little differently. Some want to cozy up with a book in a nook in their living room, others prefer to read in bed. Either way, our lighting needs will depend largely on how we live.

However, there are some general rules for lighting design that apply across the board. For instance, we all need bright light for chopping in the kitchen and more layers of light in our living space.

The Bedrooms

Not just your primary bedroom, but also any guest rooms, should be the most relaxing spaces in your home, with lighting designed to create a sense of calm. In other words, no bright bulbs, unless it’s the task light on your vanity! You may want to combine one ambient light with 2-3 task lights on your nightstands and dresser, and perhaps sprinkle in an accent light or two to highlight a painting or sculpture.

Your Home Office

Similar to the bedroom, your home office should always have one ambient light source and then multiple task lights depending on how you use the space. The ideal option is a flush-mount or recessed lights for your ambient base and 2-3 task lights such as a dedicated desk lamp, tape light, or floor lamp. We are loving this Envoy Swing sconce from Schoolhouse Electric.

The Living Room

In this area, you can and should combine all three types of lighting - think of it like dressing in layers. For ambient light, you might choose a chandelier, flush mount, or even a tape light under bookcases. For accent and task, use portable desk lamps, pendant lights, and downlights.

In the Kitchen

Your best bet here is a combination of one ambient light and multiple task lights in high-traffic areas. For example, install one large flush mount fixture for ambient lighting. Then, for task lighting install cabinet underlighting to bring sufficient lighting your sink and counters. And of course, you should consider a pendant above the kitchen island an opportunity to add a bit of flair.

The Bathroom

Mirror mirror on the wall, what room should be the brightest of them all? If you are in the middle of a bathroom remodel, right now is the perfect time to upgrade your lighting. Here you can use one ambient light on the ceiling, but also add sconces or recessed lights for an extra boost. Or consider a lighted mirror such as the one you see in the design above, Textural Tranquility by Ashley Fitch.

Use your daily routine as a guide

If we leave you with just one key tip for creating a lighting plan that works for you and your space, it is to use your daily routine as a guide. Consider how you want to feel when you are using a space, what needs should be met, and use a blend of lighting options to help create that atmosphere. Bright lights for exercise or work, calm hues for rest.

Dreaming of a home remodel? Explore designs, organize materials, and see your space come to life with Beam. Get in touch to start your home remodel today.