Layers of Light — TADA!

Progress Robin Northam

A combination of lighting — task, accent, decorative and ambient — will provide your home with design beauty as well as a visual aid when accomplishing tasks. Be aware that not every room in your home will need all four layers. If there is nothing of interest to highlight in a room, accent lighting may not be needed. Also, several layers may be accomplished by one light, such as a chandelier that provides ambient light or a pendant that also is a source of task lighting.

Another way to achieve flexibility is by dimming your lighting, which also saves energy and increases the life of bulbs.

T: Task Layer

Task lighting gives you the needed light to help you perform jobs. First determine what activities will take place in the room — food preparation, homework, reading, sewing, family game night, etc. Then select fixtures that direct the light to the work/play surface. For example provide under-cabinet lighting for food preparation, swing-arm wall sconces for reading or crafts and downward-facing bulbs for games or homework.

A: Accent Layer  

Accent lighting brings attention to a particular feature of a room, be it artwork, an architectural element or a design attribute. Accomplished with low-voltage halogen lights or LED fixtures, this lighting is usually an adjustable recessed can or a small spotlight. To protect paintings and textiles from damaging UV rays, select a light with a UV shield or an LED fixture.

D: Decorative Layer

Jewelry for the home and the most noticed of all the lighting layers, decorative lighting pulls all the design elements in a room together. Whether it is a crystal chandelier in the dining room or hand-blown glass pendants over an island in the kitchen, this is the lighting your guests will remember.

A: Ambient Layer

The ambient layer, also known as general lighting, provides enough light to navigate a room safely and creates a desired mood. Recessed lights, ceiling lights and wall sconces fall under the category of ambient lighting.


Robin Northam,
Lighting Sales Manager Southern California

4699 Mercury St.
San Diego, CA 92111

1725 Hacienda Dr., Suite B
Vista, CA 92081

Categories: Home Design