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Home Lighting Design: A Detailed Guide to Layered Lighting

Home Lighting Design: A Detailed Guide to Layered Lighting

When it comes to creating comfortable and versatile living spaces, layered lighting is one factor you can’t afford to miss. A combination of task, accent, decorative, and ambient lighting can enhance your home’s functionality and look factor by a long way—but that’s not all. Multiple light layers allow you to effortlessly shift between day and evening use of an indoor space, such as a living room, without worrying about unwanted shadows.

Read on to learn about the principles of layered lighting and why it is so crucial for creating a well-lit environment.

An Overview of Different Types of Lighting

Generally speaking, lighting can be divided into four types: task, accent, ambient, and decorative.

  • With task lighting, you get focused light for specific tasks. Task lighting also is useful in softening shadows from ambient lighting.
  • Accent lighting is useful for highlighting features inside a room for creating dimension and depth. Examples of common accent lights include track lights and strip lights
  • Ambient lighting, as you may have guessed from its name, is the main source of brightness in a space. Think of ambient lighting as the main or base layer when you’re layering lights. Typically, standard light fixtures for ambient lighting include ceiling lights, wall-mounted fittings, and recessed downlights.
  • Any light fixture or lighting that is used in the form of a statement piece, like string lights, wall sconces, chandeliers, and strip lights can be considered as decorative lighting.

What are the Different Light Layering Techniques?

Three main light layering techniques are horizontal layering, vertical layering, and depth layering.

Vertical Layering

This technique is used for creating dimension and involves arranging light sources at varying heights inside a room. Vertical layering is especially effective where there are vertical architectural features or high ceilings.

To set up the base layer of ambient lighting, you should consider using pendant, recessed, and ceiling lights for overhead lighting. You can then add dept to the middle layer by incorporating floor lamps, wall-mounted sconces, or table lamps. Accent lights can also be a good option for highlighting different parts of an indoor space at eye level. In certain cases, using toe-kick lights, plug-in motion sensor lights, or uplights in the way of bottom-layer lighting can help ensure improved accessibility in low light.

Horizontal Layering

This lighting technique is used for creating areas of interest and focal points within a room. This is achieved by ensuring light sources are distributed evenly across a horizontal plan. You can also use the horizontal layering technique for creating a sense of width inside a room. Draw focus to picture frames or hanging wall art by using track lighting. Another example is using under-cabinet and over-cabinet strip lights in your kitchen for creating a horizontal task-light layer.

Depth Layering

More than anything else, depth layering is used for creating areas interest between the background and foreground of an indoor space so that dimension and spatial depth are emphasized. There is no set formula for creating impressive depth light layering. We suggest you position different lighting fixtures carefully throughout a room and try out different fixture distances and heights to see which arrangement looks the best.

Placing LED lights behind objects or furniture add depth between the objects and wall behind them and is a great way of utilizing backlighting. Another idea is to install strip lights or track lights along the length of a wall for creating a sense of movement. Look at your room from all angles to make sure dimension is clearly noticeable from each and every vantage point.

Main Characteristics Which Can Impact Layering Techniques

A few pointers to keep in mind as you plan a tailor-made light layering design for your home:

  • Pay attention to how sun light plays into your space. Skylights and wide-open windows can be used as ambient lighting during daytime
  • Natural lighting is likely to change in different rooms differently throughout the day. Therefore, identify spaces which can do with additional lighting
  • As you create a customized layering design, take into consideration the room size and ceiling height. Extra vertical light layers are likely to be needed in room with high ceilings. In contrast, smaller rooms that have low ceilings might benefit from depth lighting as that will make them appear larger than they actually are.

How to use Layered lighting in your home?

  • Starting with general ambient lighting is always a good idea as it helps prepare the base light layer.
  • Work in horizontal, depth, or vertical layering techniques for creating dimension and interest within a room. Start by determining how you want to use each of the four lighting types
  • To have a clear idea about what type of task lighting is needed, it is important you perfectly understand how you plan to use a room. Start by identifying areas for relaxing, reading, hobbies, or meal preparation. This can help ensure the layering of light is sufficient to support all the tasks while ensuring the overall lighting is not too overpowering
  • Next, identify all the features in a room that you want to highlight and accentuate. Examples include architectural details, photo frames, mirrors, or decors. You can use wall sconces, spotlight bulbs, and track lights for accent lighting
  • In case depth, horizontal, or vertical layering design doesn’t feel exciting or you see spaces which are not getting proper illumination, then use decorative light fixtures
  • Ensure the colour temperature of lighting in each room is appropriate. Here are some general guidelines that you can follow:

Warmer lighting in the range of 2700K and 3000K usually works best in bedrooms

Both living rooms and dining rooms usually require colour temperature of 3000K or less

For bathrooms, you may want to consider colour temperature in the range of 3000K to 4000K

Kitchens typically require a combination of different colour ranges. For example, installing a 4000K LED bulb over the kitchen counter could be a good choice, whereas other spaces in the kitchen might be better off with warmer colours (2700K to 3000K.

Garages and home offices typically require colour temperatures in the range of 4000K.

  • After you have installed all the lighting fixtures, don’t forget to test the lighting to ensure it is as per your expectations and meets all your needs. If required, adjust brightness, colour temperature, or fixture placement to get the intended lighting effect.