Let’s talk layers. There’s a reason designers love them. Fashion designers use layers to create new looks. Culinary designers craft amazingly delicious things with layers – think cake. Even scent is layered to bring out its nuances. So it is with lighting. Did you know you can use it to add depth and dimension to a room, switch the mood in an instant and showcase your favorite things? And, that’s just the short list.
You just have to know a few light layering basics. Add your imagination and the right lighting partner and you’ll be layering brilliant looks before you know it.
The 3 Layers of Lighting
Layer 1: Ambient Lighting
Think of it as a foundation or a canvas upon which to paint a distinctive lighting picture. It’s the big fluorescent box in the center of your kitchen or the track lighting or ceiling fan in your family room or great room. Or use evenly-spaced downlights & recessed lights to help create the perfect ambient light.
Layer 2: Task Lighting
Task lighting is the light you need to get the daily to-do list done. This layer of lighting is concentrated where routine tasks get accomplished, like homework, cooking, putting on your makeup, brushing your teeth, etc. That’s why task lighting is often under or over cabinets and around mirrors. Also, you can strategically place downlights & recessed lighting above countertops, slightly away from the cabinets to help shed light on high-task areas.
Layer 3: Accent Lighting
This is where it gets fun because accent lighting is about casting a glow on your favorite things. Accent lighting is decorative lighting – including fixtures that make a design statement and those that complement a room, furnishings and things like sculptures, plants, books…whatever it is in your home you want to illuminate.
Install downlights and use a dimmer to adjust the ambient lighting and highlight your accents.
Accent lighting can be a pendant over a bar, counter or kitchen island, a sconce on the wall or a light inside a bookshelf that makes a great room glimmer...the possibilities are infinite, and there is no wrong way to do it.
Ever Heard of Toekick Lighting?
Toe kick lighting can really show off cabinetry, defining its baselines and even creating the illusion that it’s “floating.” It can also add dimension and bring subtle attention to your flooring. Another benefit? Safety. Toe kick lighting doubles as a nightlight, which comes in very handy for things like midnight snack runs.
Don't Forget About Outdoor Spaces
The rules of light layering can apply to outdoor spaces as well. Maybe your grilling area could use some task lighting above to help prep meals. Or perhaps the outdoor entrance would use wall lights to illuminate your outdoor living area. Apply the principles from this article and your possibilities are endless.
A Sidenote about Switches
One of the great benefits of layering is that you get to choose what works for you. Accessories to keep top of mind are switches and dimmers.
Have kids? A dimmable ceiling light can be your friend at storytime and a nice bedtime cue.
Loads of laundry? A sensor switch that turns on when doors are opened can carry some weight.
Want to ease into the day without a glaring light in your eyes? Combining a dimmer with a motion sensor switch can help your eyes – and your attitude – adjust a little easier, with light coming up slowly as you enter the room.
Looking for more examples of light layering, or some product recommendations?
Read more on the Kichler Blog.
|The Layered Look|
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- Sconce Installation Guide
- Lighting Glossary
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- Chandelier Installation Guide
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- Light Layering
- Cleaning and Maintenance
- Choosing The Right Color Temperature
- Why Lighting Systems
- Project Planning Cabinet Lighting
- Installing Cabinet Lighting
- Use of Tape Lighting And Channels
- Installation Planning for Tape Lighting With Channels
- Small Space Solutions
- Open Floor Plan