Lighting is a crucial element in interior design, playing a pivotal role in shaping the ambiance and functionality of a space. Beyond mere illumination, it serves as a powerful tool to enhance the aesthetic appeal and mood of a room. Properly executed lighting plans can transform an ordinary space into a dynamic and inviting environment.

Lighting has the ability to accentuate architectural features, highlight focal points, and create a sense of balance within a space. Natural light, when maximized through well-placed windows or skylights, not only reduces the reliance on artificial lighting but also contributes to a healthier and more vibrant atmosphere. On the other hand, strategic use of artificial lighting, such as pendant lights, chandeliers, and wall sconces, allows for customizable levels of brightness and shadows, adding depth and drama to the design. 

Lighting generally falls into one of three categories, ambient lighting, task lighting or accent lighting. Ambient lighting provides overall illumination. Also called general lighting, it is intended to create a uniform light level throughout a space. Task lighting focusses on a particular area. As the name implies, task lighting provides a level of light necessary to perform a specific task, like cooking. Accent lighting is meant to draw attention to specific features, like artwork or a bookcase. All three types of lighting are important and a well-designed space will incorporate all three.

In order to successfully incorporate all three types of lighting into your design, it is important to spend time with your architect or designer developing a lighting plan. This should happen after the floor plan is established and involves a few key steps.

  • Consider whether you will want lighting controls or a whole house home automation system. If you do, get the audio-visual specialist involved as early as possible. They will likely be the ones doing your lighting plan and will be instrumental in making sure it gets done right. 
  • Outline the various functions that will take place in each room (watching tv, studying, exercising, etc.) to determine what type of lighting you need on the basis of functionality.  
  • Determine locations of light sources. Your architect or designer should be able to help you lay this out so that you achieve equal levels of light spread throughout each room and space.

  • Locate the switches. Imagine walking through your home and take time to consider where the switches should be placed. Avoid placing switches in the center of a wall where they might interfere with art placement. 

  • Consider the temperature of your lighting. Lighting temperature, measured in Kelvins, determines the color of a bulb. Contrary to popular belief, it does not dictate the brightness of the light, which is determined by the Lumens. Lower Kelvins are warmer and more yellow, while higher Kelvins are cooler and more blue. A Kelvin of 3000 is appropriate for most residential homes, but it is an individual preference and something you should discuss with your designer. 

In essence, the importance of lighting in interior design cannot be overstated. Lighting serves as both an artistic and functional tool, contributing significantly to the overall success of a well-designed space.

Karen Black