Lighting - The Basics

In this article, I will discuss the basic types of lighting that one may use in a room for home design. Understanding the different types of lighting opens up a whole new range of possibilities for home design that you might not have considered. It will also make it easier to read articles about lighting, because they use these terms regularly.
Ambient Lighting: This is what most people think of when they think of lighting, and many people only consider ambient lighting when they design their homes. Ambient lighting illuminates your room as a whole, rather than any particular part. So, for example, an ambient light is not focused anywhere in particular, but can be adjusted to give your room an overall brighter or intimate feel. Ambient lighting should be a diffuse as possible, so as not to draw attention to itself.
Task Lighting: Task lighting is any light that is actually used for a particular purpose. Some of the most obvious examples of this are things like the light over the dining room table for eating, grooming lights by the mirror in the bathroom or reading lamps near your favorite chair. Too often, people think only of ambient lighting and then read where the light is best. Rather, if you consider light functionally, you can produce a far more pleasant home to live in.
Accent Lighting: Accent lighting is used to highlight various aspects of your room that to which you want to draw the attention of visitors. So, for example, accent lighting might be used to highlight a painting on your wall, or even something a little more abstract, like highlighting the wooden beams near your entrance. While this lighting is can contribute to ambient lighting, that isn't its overall purpose.
Decorative Lighting: For decorative lighting, the light source itself is what is decorative. So, for example, if you wish to draw attention to a lamp, it is decorative lighting. The most common example of this, strangely enough, is Christmas lights, but those aren't used all year round. One of the most common places for this kind of lighting is in the foyer of a home, but with clever application, it can be used anywhere.

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