Scripps Howard News Service
Lighting is an essential element of interior design. It provides us with light to work and play during any time of day, but that isn't all. Lighting also offers many design solutions for our homes.
Lighting is used for many purposes in interior design.
There is illumination, of course, but there is also ambient lighting, accent lighting, task lighting, simply decorative lighting and even mood lighting.
Let's discuss these various types.
Ambient lighting is sometimes also called general lighting. Its purpose is to light up the entire room.
Most often, this type of lighting is in or hangs from the ceiling. It can be a chandelier, pendant lamps or recessed light fixtures.
The style of the room will dictate which type of ambient light you will use.
If it is a dining room, a chandelier is usually the choice, but some very contemporary dining rooms have recessed lighting as the lighting choice for ambience.
Pendant lighting can be ambient, also, but most often these add light but are more of a decorative nature.
Accent lighting is used to, well, accent items of your decor.
The accent lighting can highlight some architectural feature in the room, it can draw attention to artwork, it can illuminate one particular part of a room just because it looks good that way.
The purpose of accent lighting is to draw your attention to what the light is shining on.
Task lighting is used for exactly that -- doing tasks. Some rooms need this type of lighting, such as the kitchen, the bathroom and the laundry room.
Do you have a workout room? Task lighting is what you need there, too.
The more intense lighting helps you see what you are doing when you are performing a specific task.
If you are cutting up vegetables, say, you really want to see where the vegetable ends and your finger begins.
When putting on makeup, you want to make sure you see what you are doing and how the finished product -- your face -- looks.
Shaving requires good task lighting, too.
Do you have an office that you work from in the house? Task lighting will be necessary there as well.
Decorative lighting is mostly for decoration, as you might imagine.
These are used as accents, such as an end-table lamp that isn't meant to be used for reading.
They are decorative because of how they look -- in other words, because of their design.
Mood lighting would be up-lights that you would put behind a sofa or a chair that illuminates the wall without the fixture being seen. In the evening, if that is the only lighting in the room, the mood is one of calmness and serenity.
There are also mood-light bulbs that you can put into a lamp. These are colored lights that help set the mood for the room.
So now go and light up your life.
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of "Mystery of Color," available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Amazon.com.