The Layered Look

June 5, 2019
By Carla Jordan

Whether reading, cooking or playing board games, proper lighting counts unless you want to squint, reach for pepper rather than paprika, or count the dice roll wrong and cash in all your chips. The secret to lighting your home right in any circumstance?

A strategy that mixes three types of illumination for a layered look that’s practical, pretty and mood-making.

Ambient lighting (or general lighting) creates the foundation for illumination that every room needs, so start with it whether you’re building, remodeling or updating your home. Designed to deliver a broad amount of diffused light that’s bright enough for basic functions or navigation, you’ll find it in recessed lights, track lighting, flush or semi-flush mount fixtures, and even ceiling fans with lights.


In this inviting and functional mudroom, the Winslow flush mount ceiling light emits a soft, warm glow that wraps the space like a welcoming hug. The Northland wall light provides some task lighting that’s bright enough for everyone to check their shoes and not trip over the rug.

Task lighting is the second layer. Pendant lights, under cabinet lights and sconces deliver light in a concentrated form where it is needed most—onto areas where tasks take place.



In most homes, the kitchen island is a hub of activity.  By adding a duo of Lakum pendants this island now receives enough light for everything from food prep to homework to take place there. And the room gets a modern farmhouse vibe from exposed beames and edison bulbs in the Lucien chandelier over the breakfast nook.

Under cabinet lighting transforms shadowy counters into well-lit, functional work spaces where it’s both convenient and safe to chop and slice while cooking. Layer in LED tape to cook up a look that’s dramatic from dusk to dawn.



Place lighting on each side of the mirror and you’ll be surprised at just how much better you’ll see during daily grooming. And here’s a tip. Sconces, like this industrial-inspired one called Talland deliver more concentrated light than most because they have a clear glass shade.

Accent lighting is the third and final layer. Like jewelry, it adds the finishing touch. And a bit of wow.


This chic living room put the accent on clean, mid-century silhouettes from the top down. Its vintage brilliance, showcasing clear optical crystals that are reminiscent of antique jewelry. The Arabella illuminates from within – delivering a stunning effect of lighting as it casts LED light from above and below the fixture. A true beauty. 



In this great room, the full effect of layered lighting is clearly seen. By mixing ambient, task and accent lighting in just the right places, it’s now a place that welcomes all who enter with open arms and makes them want to stay—which is the true secret to lighting your home right.


For more ideas, check out our Light Layering Guide 

Light Layering Guide