Task Lighting is the lightingthat illuminates the area where you are working or reading. These fixtures include under cabinet lights and reading lights. Ambient Lighting is the gentle overall lighting for the room. This light fills the room with a warm glow from an indirect light source that is bounced off the ceiling. Cove lighting, pendant hung indirect fixtures, and opaque wall sconces are some of the ambient light fixtures. Accent Lighting is the dramatic light. These lights highlight works of art, give depth to a room, and wash over interesting textures in your home. Recessed adjustable ceiling fixtures, track lighting and uplights are used for accent lighting. Decorative Lighting is eye candy. Its main purpose is to look pretty. Chandeliers and some wall sconces are for decoration. These fixtures should not be too bright or they will overpower other design elements of the space. Natural Daylight provided through carefully designed windows and skylights gives great light during the day and can reduce the need for electrical lighting.
I incorporate the following three lighting scenarios in almost all of my projects. In bathrooms never locate a wall mounted fixture over the mirror; it will cast harsh shadows and prematurely age you. Instead use two wall sconces mounted on either side of the mirror. The fixtures should be at eye level, which is generally 5’-6” above the finished floor. Tall narrow fixtures accommodate most family members.
The traditional design for bedside reading lights is a wall mounted swing arm fixture which has to be mounted carefully to be at the right height for actual reading. A better solution is two recessed adjustable low voltage halogen ceiling fixtures located over the bed. The lamps should have a tight beam spread, such as a MR-16 ESW. The fixture on the right should be aimed to the left side of the bed and vice versa to prevent your head from casting a shadow on your book. The switches should be located accordingly. The fixtures should be located 18” to 24” from the wall and 2’ from the center of the bed.
Chandeliers over dining tables are decorative and do not provide the accent lighting necessary to show off the sparkle of your crystal and silver. The same recessed ceiling fixtures that were used as reading lights in the bedroom can be located over your dining table as accent lights; the bulb should have a wider beam spread. They should be located on the long axis of the table 3’-6” from the middle of the table. Almost all fixtures throughout your house should be on a dimmer to control the amount of light and extend the life of the lamp.