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Lighting in Layers

June 10th, 2014 Posted in General Design

When renovating your space, an important component to remember that can change the whole feel of the space, both physically and emotionally, is selecting the appropriate lighting. How you light a room can change the design and ultimately its use. Correct lighting can increase your quality of life with less squinting and create a more effective workspace – no more rewashing dishes! Plus, appropriate lighting can increase your home’s resale value.

There are 4 “layers” or types of lighting to consider, and each one has a specific function, though they may overlap each other. Combining these layers will help create a more functional and aesthetically pleasing place within your home.

Ambient light- This is the overall illumination or brightness of the area and is used to light walkways through a room. There are many forms of ambient lighting but the most common are ceiling lights, can lights and track lighting.


Can lights installed in this kitchen give an overall illumination.

Task light- This type of lighting is used to give more light to where a task is being performed. The most common type of this lighting is a desk lamp or in the kitchen under upper cabinets to light countertops, and above work spaces such as sinks and islands.


The under cabinet lights help illuminate the cooking surface.


Accent or mood light- This lighting is used to create subtle lighting effects to highlight or emphasize architectural features or to dimly light the room when not occupied. Pendant lights and sconces are an example of this type.


These pendant lights are not only a focal point in the center of this room but also illuminate the island countertop


Decorative light- This type is used to enhance a design or create a color statement. These are similar to accent or mood lighting and used solely for aesthetics.


The under and above cabinet mood lighting helps define the modern style in this kitchen.

A professional designer can help you achieve the perfect balance of aesthetics and functionality. We are fortunate in the Mid-Willamette Valley to have two great showrooms nearby; one in Corvallis (Radiance by Design) and one in Albany (J& J Electric). Shopping for lights online can show you a good deal of variety but stop in at one of these showrooms to page through reams of books and see selections in person, while getting some great advice at the same time. Make sure to check showroom hours before you go. You can find the links to the showrooms under Resources at the top of this page.

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