What is layered lighting?

The most aesthetically pleasing and effective way to light a room is to have three layers: overall, task and accent.

  • Overall lighting is the main illumination in a room. This will be the light above the main work or living space. The overall light could be from a chandelier, multiple pendants, recessed lights, a ceiling fan with a light, or some other main light source.
  • Task lighting is the light needed for specific tasks such as cooking, reading, applying make-up, etc. Examples of task lighting could be portable lamps, sconces next to a dressing area, and recessed lights or pendants directly over a work area.
  • Accent lighting could be toe-kick or in-cabinet lights, cove lighting, or small portable lamps.

Depending on where and how some fixtures are used, they could be any type of lighting. For example, pendants might be considered overall lighting or task lighting, even accent if small and in a corner. The important thing is to layer the lighting so that appropriate illumination can be achieved for the activity taking place.

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