Light animates and brings any interior to life; every corner, every shape is defined by its own shadow, by its reflection flooded in light.
Different lighting schemes create different moods and service different aspects of the home or office. When you’re planning renovations, revamping an existing space, or building a room from scratch, there are many aspects to consider. Not only are your budget and deadlines important, but ensuring that all the effort you put into designing an amazing space isn’t undercut by poor lighting design is vital.
Getting the lighting right for any room is quite a technical process. But once you arrive at that sweet spot – the perfect combination of artificial and natural lighting, it will all be worth the effort.
A house filled with sunlight is cheery, warm and inviting. Throughout the day, the sun marks time, subtly changing the color and shape of rooms. Like water and fire, sunlight is an elemental part of our existence as well as a fundamental component of green design. Buildings with abundant daylight help keep us physically and emotionally healthy. They also reduce the need to turn on electric lights during the day, cutting lighting energy consumption by 50 to 80 percent, according to the South African Green Building Council.
There are three different layers of artificial lighting that all interior spaces must have.
General or Ambient lighting
General, also known as ambient lighting, is the type of lighting that you switch on as you enter an interior space. General lighting is a hidden source of light that washes a room with a glow, contributing to the overall illumination of light in a room. It flattens an interior and creates very little shadow.
Ambient lighting also radiates a comfortable level of brightness without glare and allows you to see and walk about safely. A wall sconce is an example of ambient lighting, as are paper lanterns and chandeliers.
However, the most commonly used ambient light source today is the recessed down lighter. By using dimmer switches the overall ambiance can be adjusted in a room to create a certain mood.
Task or Feature Lighting
Task lighting is just that; lighting that’s used to perform daily activities such as reading, cooking, shaving, putting on makeup. Effective task lighting enhances visual clarity and keeps the eyes from getting tired, so it needs to be glare-free.
Because it is used to assist in performing certain tasks the purpose is a beam of light focused on a work surface, not eliminating an entire room. Examples of task lighting include a lamp on a side table or office desk, candle light on a table, cabinet lighting in the kitchen, and a standing lamp
Accent or Focal Lighting
Lighting itself can be a work of art. A neon sculpture would be purely decorative and an example of accent or focal lighting. A spotlight illuminating a statue on a pedestal or portrait on the wall is also artistic.
This type of lighting needs to be used along with other lighting types. Directional lighting or lighting that adds interest or highlights a certain object or unusual architectural feature in a room. A bulb and some kind of shield to direct the light are all that’s needed for this type of lighting. Halogen spotlights and table lamps are also with opaque shades are good ways to achieve accent lighting.
The primary goal of this type of lighting is to add drama to a room by creating visual interest or to draw the eye to specific accent areas, such as paintings or sculptures. While a down lighter on an object or sculpture is an example of accent lighting, a chandelier can also be used as accent lighting because of the aesthetical value.
It is important to keep in mind that while these layers of light are used for their functionality in your space they can and should add beauty to your interiors. Lighting has come a long way with so many different selections to purchase. I would advise to layer these three different types of Artificial lighting so that you can create a dramatic effect and a welcome feeling into your home.
Spiandi Dickson is an interior decorator with years of experience and a keen eye for style. She is a part-time lecturer at Inscape Design Company and runs her own system-driven interior design company – Cotton and Yarn Interiors.
She has this to say about her business: “At Cotton and Yarn Interiors we like to work with structure and keenly take note of attention to detail and the delivery of superb quality and customer service. To us quality and superb productivity standards are vitally important. There is a follow-up process that ensures consistency and accuracy of all aspects. Cotton & Yarn Interiors is deadline driven and always prioritise client jobs in terms of urgency.”