Get the Glow Down: 3 Types of Lighting Your Home MUST Have
Are you in the dark when it comes to creating a lighting plan for your space? Well, it’s never too light to learn! 😆 (We should warn you now this is going to be a punny post!) Read on to learn how to create the perfect lighting scheme for every room in your home!
Get ready for some serious enlightenment…
Let’s start with the two most essential factors in lighting: color and intentionality.
Color is defined by the light in which it is viewed. For example, a surface or object will take on an entirely different color in the daylight than when viewed underneath LED, fluorescent, or incandescent lighting. Because color is a function of light, the light will always determine the final outcome of how a color appears.
Think about all the functions your lighting can perform in a space. When a person enters a room, their eye is being directed by the lighting conditions. For instance, a directional light could highlight an art piece on the wall, or perhaps there is a statement lighting piece that is directly in the center of the room, acting as a focal point.
Ultimately, your lighting needs to serve both practical and mood-setting purposes. One of the biggest lighting mistakes people make is trying to get by with a limited range of lighting types. This will never create a pulled-together look! To get a balanced and beautiful space, you need to incorporate three different sources of light: ambient, task, and decorative.
Lighting Categories You Gotta Know…
Also known as general lighting, this is lighting that illuminates all around you, whether it comes from a window or a ceiling fixture.
When it comes to ambient lighting, you actually have to consider using lighting fixtures to give 360 degrees of light. The goal is to fill the majority of the room with light and increase visibility overall.
PRO TIP: Don’t overlook track lighting as a fantastic ambient lighting solution! There’s major flexibility with track lighting: you get multiple lights without having to punch a bunch of holes in the ceiling! We usually recommend the flush-mounted low voltage type for a sleeker look, which focuses on the light, not the fixture.
If you want to explore the world of track lighting, be sure to check out our favs at The Store.
This type of lighting is used in workspaces, whether that’s the kitchen, bathroom, office, laundry, or a reading lamp next to a chair. Task lighting includes things like under cabinet lighting and vanity lights- it’s something very specific that shines light down to a surface or an area that you need to see really clearly and helps you perform whatever task you need to do.
Yay, our favorite! 🤗 Lighting, after all, is the jewelry of a home. What’s brilliant (pun alert) about decorative lighting is it can give you a lot of textural play in the space while also allowing for plenty of opportunities for flexibility.
Let’s say you’re hosting a fabulous dinner party, and you want to create a mood by keeping the lights down low and focusing only on the table, you know, very ooh-la-la…decorative lighting is how you’ll achieve that.
These next two lighting categories aren’t necessarily must-have lighting sources, but if you’re looking to amplify the ‘wow’ factor, consider what they can do for your space:
Although the term accent lighting is somewhat broad, it essentially applies to a type of lighting that illuminates a space or area while not acting as a focal point. Accent lighting allows you to draw attention to a specific area or object in the room. For example, picture lights are used to highlight a piece of art, while under-cabinet and toe kick lights also serve both an aesthetic and functional purpose.
PRO TIP: A fantastic accent lighting option for both homeowners and renters alike is LED light strips. Use it for uplighting and downlighting behind shelves or highlighting glassware and bottles in a home bar; you can put them practically anywhere! It’s an amazing high-design detail that is not off-limits to people who rent.
Specialty lighting is used to create accents or highlight specific features in the space, whether that’s a piece of artwork or a highly textured wall. It is used when directing your eye to a particular pinpoint; in fact, many specialty lighting fixtures will have a light cone of only 15 degrees, meaning that it’s a very narrow beam of light, while others will go as wide as 45 degrees. When considering your specialty lighting plan, you want to keep in mind what it is you want to light and/or where you want to direct the light’s focal beam.
Popular Lighting Fixture Types
Also called can or pot lights, these are lights that are flush with the ceiling and commonly used to create flood ambient light; however, you can change the trim ring to create a more focused light beam.
Available in a huge range of sizes and styles, these are fixtures that mount flat against the ceiling.
Similar to the flush mount in size and style versatility, however, these fixtures hang 4”-8” below your ceiling.
Chandeliers usually have 1-3 layers of lights and can be anything from very grand to screamingly contemporary.
This type of uplighting is either incorporated into a wall or installed within a ceiling coffer to provide diffuse overall illumination.
Several individual (usually directional) lights hang from a track that you can either mount to the ceiling or suspend, depending on the height and overall effect you want.
A single light fixture that is suspended from the ceiling by a cord, chain, or rod.
A smaller version of standard-sized pendant lights is usually hung in groups of 3-5 over kitchen islands, powder baths, or dining room tables.
They are technically wall-mounted fixtures that can be found in various spaces, like in a hallway or flanking a bathroom mirror. One fundamental rule to follow with hardwired sconces is to pick the fixture first and THEN locate its place on the wall. Once you cut a hole in the wall, it’s a real pain to have to fix! Trust us on this…
Because many newer builds don’t have ceiling lights, you will need to incorporate uplighting in your space somehow, and floor lamps are a great way to go. They can pull double duty as a task lamp if they provide downlighting as well!
Table lamps come in three categories: big table lamps that are tall, important, and decorative in nature, desk or work-related task lamps, and smaller table lamps that serve as fun accents.
These little cylindrical floor lights allow you to create interesting shadow effects on the wall by highlighting sculptures, plants, and more.
Mounted either to the wall or on the frames of artwork, picture lights not only ensure your favorite art is properly on display, they really can add to the overall ambiance of a room.
Toe Kick Lighting
Toe kick lighting is an amazing and unexpected way to add warmth and depth to a space. It can be used to create a gorgeous glow beneath your kitchen cabinetry, plus it also makes a fantastic night light in the bathroom!
A round LED light that mounts easily to a surface with a stick-on backing. Highly versatile, you can put them absolutely anywhere! Place them in your glass front kitchen cabinets or your closet shelves; you can even put one in an opaque vase to make it glow like a candle! Experimenting with these is inexpensive and will give your space an intentional, bespoke, and well-thought-out look.
A Bit About Bulbs
Of course, it’s not just the fixtures that you need to be paying attention to: the light itself plays a critical role in nailing down the perfect lighting scheme. Light color is measured on the Kelvin (K) temperature scale- the higher the number, the more white or blue the color will appear, whereas lower numbers will have a warm, yellow tone. The main categories of color temperature for bulbs are Candlelight (2500 -2700K), Soft White (3000K – 3200K), Bright White/Cool White (3500K – 4100K), and Daylight (4100K+).
Types of Bulbs
A popular trend over the past few years is using antique-style bulbs that are exposed and longer in length. What’s nice about these bulbs is they tend to burn warmer (definitely in the 2500 K range) and can add a lot of lovely layering to the overall lighting effect in your space.
Because this is the direction the world is moving in, I’d like to spend a little extra time going over the details. There are two main things to think about with LED: Output and Color.
-Output (lumen levels): Amount of light. We typically think of the brightness of a bulb in terms of wattage; however, wattage actually references the amount of energy needed to operate the bulb. The lumens scale measures the brightness of a bulb and should be factored in when choosing the correct bulb for your fixture and your space.
If you’re currently using incandescent and want to switch to LED bulbs, refer to the lumens to wattage chart above to determine which LED bulb is equivalent to your current incandescent bulb.
-Color (temperature): As mentioned earlier, light color is measured in Kelvins. I like to hit about 3000k or something close to it, but you really don’t want to exceed 3200K in your home, with the exception of spaces that need extra white light to perform detailed tasks, i.e., workshops, garages, etc. But be sure to use your Blue light-filtering glasses! And if you want a really groovy pair, then check out The Store!
Color temperature is super important and shouldn’t be an afterthought! Don’t spend another penny until you’ve checked this out:
A Better Bulb: The 3 Colors of Light and Why They Matter to get your lighting game on point.
Yeah, NO. Sorry, but fluorescent is not a good look for residences…at all. Too blue, too bright, too blech! 🤢
A favorite! Low voltage lighting is often used with lighting you control the direction of, like track lighting- and we’re definitely a huge fan of that in specific applications.
Putting it all together…
A Luminous Look
Take a look at your space with every light on. As you switch them off one by one, pay attention to what changes in the space, see what’s missing, and what becomes dark. When you do this analysis, you can begin to understand what holes you have in your lighting plan.
Remember- you want multiple layers of light in all of your spaces so that you can create flexibility to change the mood or the feel. Here’s my rule of thumb around that: You always want to look at each space individually and ask yourself, “Do I have 3 sources of light?” If you’re using your window as one of the light sources in that count, take it out. You need 3 total sources of light beyond your windows.
For the ultimate flexibility, you’ll want to put everything on dimmers. It’s really less of a suggestion and more of an absolute must- and believe us, you’ll only be doing yourself a HUGE favor! We realize that at this point, you just saw dollar figures run through your eyeballs, and we totally get it. 🤑 It’s actually not that expensive and absolutely worth every penny!
PRO TIP: We’re going to let you in on a little trick: If you have table lamps that plugin, you can buy a little dimmer on an electric cord at the hardware store. You simply plug the lamp into that and control the light level on the dimmer. Bada bing! Bada boom!
Also, if you’re in a space where the only lights you have are above you and they just turn on or off, then here’s what you’ll do: at night, switch the overheads off and turn on the three points of light in your space so that you can control your light level. Life is too short to live without a little ambiance, don’t you think? 😉
We see a bright future ahead of you! All you have to do is think about what your lighting needs are, apply the rule of three light sources, and get glowing!
Guess watt? We think you’ll also like Choosing the Right Lighting for Your Home!
Inspired? Why not go and buy yourself something shiny? ✨