Although many homeowners get by with overheard ambient lighting only, the American Lighting Association recommends the installation of three different types of lighting. Properly lighting a home becomes more important as homeowners grow older. A 60-year old requires twice as much light as a 30-year old, according to the American Lighting Association. To maximize the functionality and appearance of the lighting, the association recommends layering three different types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent lighting.
Ambient lighting provides the general illumination that homeowners use to move about a room. It is comfortable level of brightness that enables homeowners to walk safely around furniture and identify objects in the room. Ambient lighting is often accomplished with chandeliers or other ceiling or wall mounted fixtures. The American Lighting Association recommends having a central source of light in every room.
In my cases, the comfortable level of ambient lighting is not bright enough to enable homeowners to complete certain tasks, like chopping vegetables or reading. In this case, it’s time to install task lighting. A common example of task lighting is under-cabinet lighting, which illuminates the area under the cabinets so cooks can safely chop and mix. A desk lamp or a living room lamp for reading are also examples of task lighting. The key feature is to match the level of lighting to the task. Reading a book may require more light than mixing a cake batter. Task lighting that is too bright could lead to eye strain.
Although many of us consider lighting as a functional component of a house, it can also be decorative. Accent lights create drama by brightening a key feature of the house, like a beautiful painting or exquisite houseplant. These lights tend to be bright because the American Lighting Association recommends that accent lighting should be at least three times as bright as the ambient light in the room. Recessed and track lighting are commonly used as accent lights.
“Proper lighting improves the feel and function of a home,” according to Consumer Reports. Homeowners can also address their lighting needs by adding more sunshine through skylights, using mirrors to reflect light and installing dimmers. Outdoor lighting can also enhance homeowners lives by making outdoor spaces more functional or aesthetically pleasing. The key is to add the proper amount of lighting for each task, such as ambient light for general safety, task lighting for specific hobbies, and accent lighting for decorative purposes.