We have become a society obsessed with tweaking, touching up, and re-imagining our homes. Numerous television programs and magazines are now devoted to the art of home design and décor - an art that is increasingly for the masses. One of the most popular techniques of good interior design is the use of accent lighting.
For the uninitiated (i.e. anyone who hasn't been caught up by the recent home design craze), lighting is divided into three main categories: general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. General lighting, as you may suspect, provides basic illumination over a broad area. Task lighting shed additional light on areas where specific activities are performed. The main function of accent lighting is aesthetic, as it is used to emphasize certain subjects or elements within a room.
While accent lighting may bring to mind the moody spotlights of an art museum, in the home the technique can be used for far more than simply emphasizing a favorite painting. Creative use of accent lighting can be used to add depth and character to your home's interior and exterior spaces. Some places where accent lighting can be used:
- Art pieces
- Audio/video equipment
- Interesting furniture
- Architectural flourishes
- Outdoor walkways
Types of Accent Lights
Because accent lighting is defined by use, almost any kind of lamp can be used as an accent light. Some of the most common lamps used in accent lighting:
- Floor lamps
- Recessed ceiling lamps
- Track lighting
- Rope lighting
General Uses of Accent Lighting
Directed light can be a useful decorating tool inside your home, regardless of the design or decorating style you prefer. Some common applications of accent lighting:
- Adding emphasis to attractive or unusual aspects of your home.
- Using carefully pointed light to make small areas seem larger
- To break up rooms that are otherwise architecturally dull or sparse.
- To add drama and visual interest to your home's interior and exterior spaces.
- Adding a dimmer switch to accent lights lets you vary light levels according to mood and occasion. Control of light intensity can also allow the homeowner to save energy by keeping dimmer illumination levels when such light is sufficient.
- Flank a side table or buffet with simple wall uplights to provide an added flourish.
- Ensure a good variety of lighting dimensions on your home by mixing accent lighting in with general and task lighting.
- Overuse of accent lighting can wash out rooms and is visually confusing. When in doubt, follow your "less is more" instincts.