The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

One random Monday, between recuperating from the gone-too-soon weekend and coming to terms with a ever-so-busy work week ahead, the husband and I decided to host an impromptu dinner party.

The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You ShouldThe Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You ShouldThe Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

Not that one should ever need an excuse to gather friends around the table, but we had just found out the gender of our little one. Consequently, we wanted to share our joy with a few friends.

In the midst of the festivities, I paused for a brief moment and thought, “Hm, this is quite nice.”

We don’t have nearly enough dinner parties, I’ve concluded – especially the kind without reason.

Part of the cozy ambiance of the room, I later realized, was due to the soft light coming from our two new “Iris” table lamps atop the credenza. Having received them a few days prior, we had yet to test them out. The dinner party seemed like the perfect occasion to opt for softer accent light rather than the massive chandelier overhead.

The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

Layering lighting in a room is not a new concept; designers have been using it for decades to add flexibility to a space and create a certain atmosphere in a given room. But if you don’t work with design and decor on a daily basis, it may not have occurred to you that the reason a particular room in your home may feel so stark is because it’s lacking layered lighting.

Layering is the single most important part of any room design – whether we’re talking about textures, patterns, or in our case, lighting. Layers add visual interest to a space, making the room more dynamic rather than plain and one-dimensional.

In terms of lighting, layers create a balanced, visually comfortable space that not only looks good but also functions well, accommodating whatever activity it is you’re using the space for at the moment.

Most importantly, layering lighting sets the atmosphere of a room. Imagine the lighting in a department store fitting room, with its fluorescent overhead beams of harsh light. Now, compare that to the soft lighting of that cozy Italian restaurant that’s become a favorite spot for date night.

The difference in the atmosphere is practically palpable, wouldn’t you agree?

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of layering lighting, there are four main components: task, ambient, accent and decorative lighting.

Task lighting is the light by which you do work, such as cooking or prepping dinner at the island. Perfect examples of task lighting are pendant lights, reading lamps, and under-cabinet light tracks.

The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You ShouldThe Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

Ambient lighting is the general, main source of light in a room. Examples include chandeliers, flushmount and semi-flushmount fixtures and recessed lights.

The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

Accent lighting is the light that creates a particular mood in a room or highlights certain parts of the space. Hence, the term “accent.” Perfect examples of accent lighting are table lamps, floor lamps, picture lights, etc.

The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

Decorative lighting may not emit much light but is used solely for decorating purposes. Examples include candles, light from the fireplace and wall sconces.

And because no post is complete without a little GIF action, voilà!

The Art of Layering Lighting in a Room – And Why You Should

Tell me: Has layered lighting altered your space for the better? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Safavieh, who very generously gifted us the “Iris” table lamps. Thanks for supporting the amazing companies that allow me to create unique content while featuring products I truly use and love.

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  3. Thank-you so much for this post. It was ah ‘aha!’ moment for me. As in that’s what some of my rooms are missing!!!!
    You’ve inspired me to try layered lighting and I’ve since bought some table lamps

  4. I learn something new every time I visit your blog :) I had no idea that layering light was a thing, and now I’m going to go home and re-evaluate all of my lighting choices! Haha.

    I am a little more impressed each time I see photos with how your home turned out!

  5. Your house looks beautiful! I love the variety of different finishes, and how clean everything looks! Love the back splash tile in your kitchen too!

    • Thanks Shi! I’m surprised more people didn’t ask about the foreign language. The words on the mirror are a bible verse – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

  6. I still can not get over how good your house turned out!! I am always amazed every time I look at more pictures. I love the lighting its so often and fun.

    • Thanks Alexandra! You should’ve seen the house when we first bought it…. It had been abandoned for 20 years, so needless to say, it’s been a long process brining it up to its current status. Thanks for reading!

  7. Your home is incredible. The lighting looks fantastic. I’m going to have to try layering lighting in my apartment. I love all of the gold hardware you have throughout your home. You’re so talented!

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