Effective lighting design is becoming increasingly popular and important as we evolve and enhance our sophisticated lifestyles, and whilst we are all familiar with the option of having a dimmer switch to help control a certain light in our houses, or a light on a timer that can be set to come on when the house is empty, few of us have had the opportunity to explore lighting possibilities further.

The basic elements of a successful lighting design are both functional and aesthetic, with three types of lighting to be considered:

  • Ambient Light
    This is the general overall lighting in the area, for example, a central ceiling fitting capable of lighting a whole room.
  • Task Lighting
    This is lighting for a specific function, usually requiring bright shadowless light with the light fittings being either directional or close to the task area in order to avoid shadows and obstructions.
  • Accent (or Feature) Lighting
    This is used to highlight points of interest, to give extra visual appeal or to enhance and add to the quality of an area. For example, architectural features, artwork, special objects or areas all benefit form accent lighting which also draws attention to these features or objects.

Incorporating all three is done by ‘layering’ the different types of light in order to create each and all of the desired effects in an area.

Planning a lighting scheme starts with answering the following questions for each of the rooms or areas to be lit:

  • What type(s) of lighting is/are required?
  • How do you want the space to look?
  • Are there any special lighting needs that should be addressed?
  • How much daylight is available to compliment and work with the lighting?

In answering these fundamental questions, take each room or area to be lit and decide on the lighting requirements based on the questions above. The resultant lighting must be flexible for the many and varied activities in each of the rooms, with the general emphasis is on atmosphere and mood (ambient and accent lighting), and specific tasks such as cooking, reading, dressing, shaving, etc. catered for separately (task lighting).

In planning the lighting scheme, decision on the types of light fittings and bulbs will be largely based around the type of lighting required (task, ambient or accent).