The Art of Lighting Your Home

How you illuminate your home provides ambiance as well as functional light. Determining the proper lighting in each room is critical to avoid preparing a meal in a dark kitchen, reading or working in a dim home office as well as shaving or applying make-up in a poorly lit bathroom. And, during the dark winter months, interior light helps boost our mood by making our space feel brighter, more inviting, and adding visual warmth.

There are three types of home lighting:

  • Ambient
  • Task
  • Accent

Ambient Lighting:

Ambient lighting, the general illumination of a space, is placed throughout a home. It ‘sets the stage’ and provides a pleasant, soft glow in each room. It also serves as the backdrop for task and accent lighting. Often, overhead fixtures provide ambient light, but incorporating illumination from multiple sources such as table lamps provides much more flexibility. Avoiding glare from surfaces such as glass table tops, windows, glossy walls, and flooring, assists in achieving the desired atmosphere.

Accent Lighting:

The purpose of accent lighting is to accentuate a room’s unique qualities. Artwork, architectural details, and distinctive items should be showcased with this type of illumination. Accent lighting can be directed and dimmed, and should be maintained on separate switches from ambient lights.

Task Lighting:

Task lighting is bright, sharp, and focused. Its objective is to eliminate shadows and illuminate work surfaces.  Key areas to have task lighting include the kitchen, especially counter tops, desks, reading chairs, and at your bedside.

Many areas of the home benefit from all three types of light sources while some, such as hallways, may need only one or two. Appropriate lighting in kitchens, bathrooms, and key living spaces is important, allowing versatility and flexibility depending upon the required function as well as mood desired.

In addition to the type of lighting, homeowners need to consider the type of light bulbs as well as the wattage. 

The main types of bulbs available include:

  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • LED
  • Halogen

LED lamps use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 20 times longer. They also tend to be compatible with existing light fixtures, making it quite simple to make the switch. LEDs can initially be a higher outlay financially but they do pay for themselves over their extended lifetime. PG&E is currently offering rebates on LED lighting of up to $300 per fixture. To find more information on the rebate program, visit PG&E’s LED Rebate website.