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Why is layering light important?


Vintage industrial caged bulb pendant lights

Relying solely on the main ceiling light in a room (or the big light as we call it) can be unflattering and leave the room looking uninteresting and boring. In the interior design world, layering usually consists of putting together different textures, colours, fabrics and materials, but clever lighting is another way to introduce layering into a room by combining different light sources to create a particular mood or feel.


Think of how some bars and restaurants use layering of light to create that special ambiance.

Light layering used within a bar restaurant



The thoughtful placement of lamps is the best way to achieve quality lighting, and can really create depth and atmosphere in a room.


When it comes to layering light, there are three distinct types of lighting to consider: Ambient, task, and accent.



Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is the general illumination of a room and is usually in the form of the main ceiling light in the centre of the room, or it could be from ceiling spot lights, or wall lights. This is the lighting that basically illuminates the room to a decent level so that we can see and move around without bumping into things.

Ambient lighting (especially ceiling lights) can often leave things look a little flat and can cast unflattering shadows, so it may be worth considering a dimmer switch so that you can control the mood of the room. Think of ambient lighting as a canvas on which you can paint your overall lighting design.


Task lighting

Task lighting is your more practical light that allows you to see clearly when performing tasks such a cooking, reading, and so on. This is usually a focused stream of light from sources such as:

  • desk lamps which will help you see your keyboard clearly when typing

  • kitchen spots placed under the wall mounted kitchen units will illuminate the area when cooking and preparing food

  • bedside lighting will allow you to see the pages of a book clearly

  • while bathroom cabinet lighting is useful while brushing your teeth.

But task lighting doesn't just have to be practical, use it in conjunction with other types of lighting to create an overall effect.


Accent lighting

Accent lighting is for more aesthetic purposes and is also known as decorative lighting. This final layer of lighting could be from a backlit cabinet, floor level lighting in a kitchen or stairway, or carefully positioned lamps to highlight a certain area of the room or a piece of art.


But accent lighting doesn't have to cast a lot of light, decorative lighting can be a very subtle light coming from a decorative lamp such a some of our upcycled vintage lamps. They are are designed to be looked at and enjoyed with the bare vintage style bulbs emitting a lower brightness lovely warm glow from the filament within, rather than a really bright lamp that could be uncomfortable to look at directly. Decorative lighting is usually a form of art in itself.


Combine all three types of lighting to paint your rooms in light. We recommend using around four to five light sources for each room to allow you to highlight areas, casting interesting shadows and playing with the mood and depth to create texture and really bring your room to life.


Feel free to take look at some of our unique upcycled vintage lighting here to help add to your light layering, or contact us to chat about how we can help design your interior space.



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