When it comes to picking out the lighting for your home, you may find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Creating comfortable, pretty spaces that are also functional can be accomplished by using layered lighting.

What is layered lighting? Simply put, it’s a three-step approach to arranging various styles of lighting. The types of lighting we’re referring to are ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Effectively layering these different styles of lighting helps to create a lightscape that is both functional and cohesive. Here’s how you can use layered lighting in your home design.

Step 1: Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the most essential piece of the puzzle in layered lighting. For that reason, establishing a solid base is the first step. Ambient lighting is the general illumination used to see where you’re going in a dark room. Typically, ambient lighting is achieved with overhead lights like a flush or semi-mount light fixture, recessed lighting, or a ceiling fan light.

What to Know About Ambient Lighting:

  • Ambient lighting doesn’t need to be intense, so it’s okay to select bulbs with lower lumens. An easy way to determine how many lumens a room requires is to multiply the room’s square feet by 20.
  • When using recessed lighting, pay attention to the size of the room. To keep the room from being underlit, you should use at least one light for every 4 square feet of ceiling space.

Step 2: Task Lighting

The second layer to layered lighting is task lighting. The purpose of task lighting is exactly as it sounds: to make it easier to complete a task. This category can include anything from undercabinet lighting to a reading lamp to vanity lighting.

What to Know About Task Lighting:

  • Brightness matters. The point of task lighting isn’t to light up a whole room but it does need to be brighter than ambient lighting. To determine how many lumens your task lighting should have, multiply the square footage of your “work” space by 50.
  • Make it adjustable. The best task lighting includes built-in dimming capabilities and moveable arms so you can adjust your lighting as needed. If your fixture doesn’t have a dimmer, you can also plug it into an outlet with a dimmer switch.
  • Select bulbs with a Kelvin level that matches the task at hand. Color temperature is important for detailed projects and reading comfort. For a task like sewing, opt for a cool, bright daylight tone typically provided by 4000 Kelvin. In contrast, the warm tone provided by 2700-3000 Kelvin is perfect for reading.

Step 3: Accent Lighting

While ambient lighting and task lighting are practical, accent lighting is meant to be pretty. The goal is to highlight different areas of your home. Whether that be decor, collectibles, or architectural features, the choice is yours. Another great thing about accent lighting is that it can be used to delineate spaces in an open concept floor plan. Pendant lights over the island separate it from the dining area, which is usually highlighted by a chandelier type light.

What to Know About Accent Lighting:

  • The function of accent lighting isn’t as important. Accent lighting can be one of the easiest ways to boost your home’s design. For example, Edison bulbs may not give off much light but they add an aesthetic appeal to just about any light fixture.
  • Use accent lighting to highlight the areas you love. Have a gallery wall you love to show off? Add some picture lights or overhead spotlights to draw attention to it.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Accent lighting is all about personal preference, so don’t overthink it!

By utilizing layered lighting in your home, you can totally customize the lightscape to suit your needs.