Different Types of Lighting for Your Home

The need for lighting in the home is pretty obvious—it prevents you from bumping around in the dark, but it also plays an starring role in your interior design plans. When building, remodeling or redecorating, don’t throw in lighting as an afterthought—give it the same importance you would paint, furniture, fabrics, flooring and accessories. Using a variety of lighting can completely change the look and feel of a room. Understanding the different types of interior lighting will help you create a beautiful and well-balanced lighting scheme in your home. Let's break it down...

Ambient lighting is all-purpose or general lighting. It provides an even distribution of light throughout a space. Ambient light can emanate from recessed ceiling fixtures or can come from several sources from around a room like chandeliers, sconces or ceiling fans. General lighting is perfect for functions like a cocktail party or more mundane activities like house cleaning. If you want to set a particular mood, don’t rely on ambient lighting alone—it’s kind of cold and impersonal on its own. Consider using another type of light to warm things up.


Task lighting turns a beam of light onto the task at hand, whether it be kitchen prep, reading or computer work. Task lighting alone might be too intense for some. Reduce contrast and glare by adding an ambient light source to the mix. Task lighting can be anything from over island pendants to clip lights and under cabinet fixtures to floor lamps. Task lighting cuts down on eye strain and increases visual clarity when reading small print or doing close work.

Believe it or not, natural daylight is an integral part of your home’s lighting plan. Whether you realize it or not the sun changes the way your home looks throughout the course of the day. Even on rainy days, light from the outside comes in through French doors, windows and skylights and affects the colors and mood of your interior spaces. Natural light is a great substitute for ambient light on bright, sunny days. However, once the sun goes down, you’re back to relying on man-made light sources.

If you're looking to create a sensual bedroom, a softly lit soffit or a highlighted wall niche, accent lighting is the real mood creator. It is used to emphasize artwork, architectural features or plant foliage. When used in conjunction with ambient light, accent lighting can create a relaxed mood or play up a fabulous wall color. Choose from brass picture lights, rope lighting, uplights, LED pucks or an ordinary table lamp to add atmosphere or drama to the proceedings.

So, what type of lighting do you rely on most in your home?

SOURCES: Alex O'Neal
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