Lighting is often the most overlooked component in interior decorating. People often forget just how much the lighting can make or break the look and style of a room. Choosing the right lighting is more than just style; you need to consider brightness, placement, layering and much more. Here’s a quick overview on how to choose the best lighting for each room in your home.

Different types of lighting

In general, each room should have three different types of lighting:  ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Here’s a breakdown of what each of these lighting types means:

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is the main source of lighting in any given room, typically coming from overhead fixtures or recessed lighting. Ambient light serves the most basic purpose of lighting a room. The amount of ambient lighting your room has is typically decided on by your home builder who installs these kinds of lights as part of basic home construction. However, these basic light installations don’t usually have much style, and as tastes change over the years, or if you do any major renovations, you have an opportunity to change your ambient lighting up a bit. You’ll want to ensure that ambient lighting in your high function areas such as kitchens and bathrooms is fairly bright while ambient lighting in, say, a bedroom can be less so. Of course, it’s all up to personal taste but in general, kitchen and bathroom ambient lighting is the brightest, dining rooms and family rooms are less bright, and bedrooms have the softest ambient lighting. Typically, ambient lighting is in every room, close to the center, and close to the ceiling.

Task lighting

Task lighting provide lights for specific activities or uses in a space. Examples would be hallway lights, under-cabinet lighting to illuminate countertops, or a vanity light above a mirror. You often see task lighting in dens and home offices too. Depending on your needs, you might choose task lighting to direct the light where you need it most when you need it. Not every room needs task lighting but it’s perfectly acceptable if you have task lighting in each and every room if it’s needed!

Accent lighting

Accent lighting is where you get to really show your style and can definitely make a difference in a room’s decor. It’s designed to draw attention to a decorative focal point in a room, like a work of art, inside a wall cutout or bookshelf, or it can be a focal point on its own if your style is chandeliers or other decorative lamps. You tend to see accent lighting in bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it in any room, such as a bathroom!

Layering lighting

There’s actually a technique to introducing these three types of lighting into each room of your home; it’s called “layering”. You can work with an interior design professional to help choose any or all of these, but here are a few basics on how to layer lighting in your home.

First and foremost, don’t forget to consider natural light when you’re choosing how much lighting you need in each room. Darker rooms will need more lighting while rooms that get a light of sunlight might need less except for evenings. You also don’t want your lighting types to compete. Make sure that task lights don’t interfere with the ambiance of accent lighting. Don’t place accent lighting directly underneath ambient lighting or you’re lose the decorative impact. Placement makes a difference to ensure all three styles work together well.

There are at least two more elements to light layering to take into consideration: the proper light bulbs and lighting controls. Pay attention to the wattage of your bulbs you choose and if you want to control how bright or how dim lighting is, opt for dimmers and other lighting controls.

Lighting can be a fun way to upgrade the look of your home, whether you’re doing a minor change or a major renovation. Take the time to plan out your three lighting types to ensure you choose the best lighting for your home.