Balancing Light and Space

May 25, 2018

Balancing Light and Space

Step One : Choose the lighting category.

Lighting falls in one of three categories: ambient, task, and accent.

General or Ambient Lighting acts as the overall lighting of a room. It illuminates all of the room and is considered the room’s “natural light”. You might need a chandelier, pendant light, track light or wall sconces to create the propee ambient light to fills a room.

Task Lighting lights up a work or reading area. You want this lighting to be brighter than your ambient lighting. Desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights are common task lighting options. But pendants and track lighting can be used for task lighting, too, it depends on how you layer the lighting in your room, and how bright the bulb.

Accent Lighting highlights a particular area, like a work of art or a bookcase. It usually creates shadow around the object for a dramatic effect. Wall lights and landscape lights are common accent lights.


Step Two : How are you going to use the space?

To properly light your rooms consider how you’re going to use each room and where you want the light to focus, then, start layering. HGTV recommends you start with ambient lighting, then consider task and accent lighting. Think about where that lighting will go in the room. Don’t worry about the fixtures yet, just think about where you want different lighting to fall in the room. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these general, room-by-room suggestions:

Living Room: In addition to ambient light, use accent lights to focus on an object, like a piece of art or a chair. Accent lights should be balanced within the space highlighting both sides of the room.

Kitchen: Add your ambient light overhead, then add lower task lighting to illuminate the counter space where you work. If possible, the sink is also a good spot to add task lighting.

Bedroom: It’s common to have task lighting (for reading etc) over each side of the bed. Angle overhead ambient lighting away from the bed and toward the dressing area.

Bathroom: Bathroom lighting can be tricky. You want task lighting for the mirror, but an overhead task light can create shadows. Consider lighting the mirror on either side. Use an overhead ambient light to fully illuminate the room.


Step Three : Pick the Perfect Fixture.

Ceiling mount fixtures: Pretty standard for ambient lighting. They’re ideal in entry foyers, hallways, bedrooms and stairways. In hallways, we recommend spacing out fixtures every 8 to 10 feet for adequate illumination.

Chandeliers: When used for general or ambient lighting, they’re best used in dining room and/or bedrooms.

Wall-mounted fixtures: Wall sconces can be used in any room for ambient, task or accent lighting, depending on where you put them and what kind of bulb you use.

Pendant lighting: Used for task or general lighting, they hang from the ceiling and work best over dining room tables, countertops or other work areas.

Recessed lighting: Again, recessed lighting can be used anywhere for general ambient lighting. Recessed lighting can add drama and dimension to a space.

Track Lighting: Track lighting is very versatile, you can direct the individual lamps to highlight artwork, stairways or specific work areas within a kitchen.

Table lamps: Great for accent lighting in a living room or task lighting in a bedroom.


Last Note

A Few Design Rules

Size: When picking the right fixture, you also want to consider size. A fixture that’s too small or too big can make your room’s proportions look off. Here’s a few tips!

Table Lamps: A general rule of thumb, the lamp shouldn’t be more than 1.5 x the height of the table the lamp sits on and lampshade diameter should be no wider than the width of the table top.

Chandeliers : Measure the width of your table and subtract 12”. This will give you your maximum the width of a hanging chandelier. If your chandelier has a busy or complex design it can appear larger, we suggest you scale down your maximum width by 2 or 3”.  Assuming you have 8-foot ceilings, the bottom of the fixture should hang between 30 and 36 inches above the table. Note:, if your ceilings are higher, add 3 more inches above the table for each additional foot of ceiling.

Pendant Lights: Are primarily used for task lighting over a work surface. Don’t be shy about the number of pendants you use because the range of light can be limited. Select the number of pendants based off the size of your workspace. If you have 8-foot ceilings, the bottom of the fixture should hang between 30 and 36 inches above the table. Note:, if your ceilings are higher, add 3 more inches above the table for each additional foot of ceiling. Pendants work best in odd numbers.