Light Conversation: Living Room Lighting

Lighting, more than anything else, sets the mood in a room. Bright equals cheerful. Candlelit equals intimate. And dark equals … well, it can equal dreary. The right lighting can instantly transform a room, creating an inviting space that beckons you inside.

There are three basic types of lighting – ambient, task and accent – and a room should include all three in layers. Here’s how:

Ambient lighting is general lighting. Its job is functional, offering the right amount of brightness so you can see and navigate without stubbing your toe. Common ambient fixtures include ceiling, wall-mounted, recessed or track lights, as well as table or floor lamps. Having this centralized source of light is the first step in your lighting plan. It’s your first layer.

Many rooms will come with overhead lighting already installed. But some living rooms and bedrooms rely on table and floor lamps for general lighting. If that’s the case, chose lamps with shades that are broad and translucent. Drum or square shades are also a good choice because they project light up as well as down. Here are some good choices from the Art Van Furniture showrooms:

The next layer is task lighting. Just as it sounds, task lighting helps you perform specific tasks, such as reading, cooking, working at your desk, doing hobbies or playing games. The type that you choose should depend upon how many people will be doing the task. A shared end table between two chairs will call for a reading lamp with a broader shade than a desk lamp, which is used by one person.

The classic empire shade is a good choice for task lighting because it shines the majority of the light downward. Also look for fixtures that are adjustable, with a shade or base that can move as needed. And be sure to check that the light doesn’t cast glare or shadows and that it’s bright enough to prevent eyestrain. Here are a few good choices from our showroom floor:

Finally, the third layer is accent lighting. The purpose of accent lighting is to add drama to a room and create a focal point. Lights can be used to highlight paintings, sculptures and other prized possessions. They can also be used to highlight the texture of a wall or an area of a room.

Recessed, track lighting, uplights and wall-mounted picture lights are all examples of accent lighting. Floor lamps with flexible shades that can be focused on a specific area are also a good way to add accent. And don’t overlook buffet or small table lamps or even candles; they can draw attention to a certain part of a room. Here are some examples of the great accent lights we carry:

Using a combination of all three types of lighting will allow you to adjust the amount of light as needed. The best part is that changing the mood of your room can be done in just a flick of a switch.


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