Ambience. Atmosphere. Mood. All of these words describe what is created with lighting, a fundamental part of interior design. Light plays a major role in the design process and the most effective way to achieve a finished look is to layer. The three levels of interior lighting are ambient, task and accent.
Ambient light is the overall light of a room and can be provided with ceiling mount fixtures, recessed lights, lamps and natural daylight.
Task lighting is exactly what the name implies. It is for areas where you wish to read or for activities that require a more directional light source.
Accent lights are used to illuminate artwork or to enhance a particular feature of a room, such as a bookshelf or niche. Small decorative lamps and candles also fall into the accent light category.
When lighting the living room, start with ambient light, such as a ceiling fixture and/or recessed lights. These will provide the overall illumination in the room and are the foundation of any lighting design.
Next, add lamps for supplemental ambient light. This includes table lamps as well as floor models, depending on the space and the surfaces available. Keep the size of the lamp in scale with the furniture, especially the table you are using.
Built-ins, architectural niches or artwork can be highlighted with accent lighting. Art lights are available that are placed directly under or over a piece of art for directional light. Recessed lights can be used in niches, and sconces can be installed on bookshelves for just the right amount of light.
Lighting provides the illumination you need and contributes to the style of a living room. By layering with ambient, task and accent lighting you can achieve a warm and welcoming ambience in your living space.