Lights: Accents, Ambience and Tasks
Cathy Figueiredo wrote that “Light has the capacity to create an atmosphere much more than furniture or an accessory can; it recreates unique sensations and experiences”. Lights are an essential element of interior design; they not only illuminate the space, but also create an atmosphere and influence how an individual experiences a certain space. Interior designers or decorators if you like, use different types of light to define the experience that we want to create. For example, dim lighting will create a more intimate, romantic and relaxing feel.
There are three major functions of light: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting, is commonly referred to as general lighting. During the day, natural light serves as the best daytime ambient lighting option. However, in its absence at night or during cloudy days, it is substituted with artificial fixtures such as: chandeliers, track lighting, and wall sconces. The sole purpose of ambient light is to illuminate the space. When need be, natural light can be regulated using blinds, while artificial light can be regulated using dimmers.
Task lighting is commonly used as the primary light for a space and tends to zoom and focuses light on activities. Experts suggest that task lighting should be between six and ten times brighter than ambient light. It is also useful for workspaces such a study table or a working surface in the kitchen. Some of the most common fixtures for this function are: table lamps, under-counter lights and pendant lights.
Accent lights are used to highlight elements such as walkways, paintings, sculptures or architectural features. Accent lights should be between three and five times as bright as ambient light. This light function brings about a dramatic and creative touch, and still complements the visual interest of a room by creating different focal points.
When layering task, accent, and ambient lights, interior designers go further to consider the energy consumption of the fixtures in a bid to save energy and reduce other related costs. The functionality of a room heavily determines the type of light that goes in it. Bright lights do well in utility areas such as the kitchen while living and family rooms require low level lighting to prevent glare when viewing a television.