The Importance of Light

It takes a lot to have a well designed and well-functioning home. If you’ve ever planned a large remodel then you know just how many little pieces there are to consider when designing a room. One thing that should not be ignored when it comes to home design is lighting. Lighting design can easily make or break a room. Poorly placed or not enough lights can leave your home feeling dark and unwelcoming. Too much light and you risk a room being too bright or wasting precious remodeling monies on unnecessary items. Keep reading to find out more about the various types of lighting that are part of room design so that you will be ready the next time you’re designing a remodel project.

Natural Light

When it comes to lighting, nothing can beat the original light source: natural light. There is nothing quite like letting the light pour in through a home’s windows on a sunny day. Unfortunately, natural light is the only type of light that is out of our control. If the sun has set or it’s a day filled with clouds and rain then there’s no way to appreciate and use natural light. But when it is present then you should take advantage of it as much as possible when it comes to lighting your home. This home pictured above features curved windows that take up most of the wall space. These large windows allow for a plethora of natural light to flood the room.


Large windows with limited coverings will allow that light to naturally flow into your home. Rooms that lack in natural light tend to feel smaller and more restricted. If you’re someone who really enjoys sunshine then a lack of natural light could also lead to a room feeling unpleasant and not a place you want to spend a lot of time in. And when it comes down to it, natural light is the most cost effective way to light your house, just as long as you’re already set up to take advantage of it.

Ambient Light

Ambient light, also known as general light, is the most basic of artificial light. Quite simply it is designed to provide general light for a room so that inhabitants can safely move around. The most common sources for ambient light are can lights, chandeliers, or pendant wall lights. The amount of ambient light needed will depend on the room itself, both its intended function and overall size and shape. A smaller room might be fine with just an overhead ceiling fan/light combination whereas a larger room with high ceilings or a weirdly shaped room might require an army of canned lights to provide adequate general lighting. The size of the open floor plan breakfast room and living room pictured above uses multiple sources of ambient light to provide adequate illumination including a large chandelier that overhangs the table, recessed can lights in the ceiling, and pendant wall lights.

Task Light

Like the name implies, task lighting is meant to help you better perform certain tasks. When designing task lighting for a space think about what activities will be taking place and the best way to provide extra light for those specific activities. The kitchen is a room that can most benefit from well placed task lighting. Undercabinet lights can provide extra light for tasks performed on the countertops, especially since upper cabinets can block ambient light from fully reaching all spots of the countertop. The above pictured kitchen features under cabinet lighting to provide extra working light for the countertops.


The bathroom is another area where task lighting can be particularly beneficial. Proper lighting for tasks like putting on makeup or shaving can make a big difference. Additional lighting in the shower can also be helpful as its often more enclosed nature can sometimes cause it to feel like a dark cavern. The bathroom pictured here features task lighting with the extra lights that overhang both vanity mirrors. The lights above the bathtub area another example of how task lighting is used in the bathroom to make the lives of its users easier. Not only will it help provide extra light when getting in and out of the tub, but it also helps the tub be the perfect place to take a relaxing bath while enjoying a good book.


Other areas of your home that could benefit from task lighting will depend on the design of the home and your specific needs. An at home office would likely benefit from additional lighting around work spaces, like the desk or bookcases. Additional lighting around cooking and eating areas in an outdoor kitchen could be quite handy as the main source of light in those areas, natural light, can’t be controlled. Trying to enjoy an evening barbeque when the sun has gone down will be quite difficult. If you’re an avid reader and find yourself always gravitating towards specific areas in the home when reading then adding some extra lamps in those spots. The wine room pictured to the right uses task lighting above the rows of wine to better illuminate the bottles’ labels and make them easier to read.

Accent Light

Accent light is the extra, the cherry on top, when it comes to lighting. Ambient and task lighting provide the necessary light, but accent lighting is where the fun gets to come in. This can range from specialty colored lights to a statement chandelier over the dining room table, from museum lights over wall hung artwork to string café lights. While this type of lighting can help fill in some small voids in the overall lighting of a room or even add some extra lighting in areas where it is most especially needed, it is not designed to be the primary source of light for a room or area. The purple lights in the kitchen pictured above is a perfect example of the impact of accent lighting. These lights to do not add a lot of extra lighting to the overall room but they help to give the space a fun and unique vibe.


The hallway pictured here uses overhead museum lights above the built in bookcase to better illuminate and highlight the homeowner’s extensive book collection. The extra lighting helps to the bookcase stand out as a design accent in the hallway.

When It All Comes Together…

Creating a well lit room requires using all four of these types of light in a way that will best complement the form and function of a room. That may sound easy in theory but putting it into practice takes intention and care. A properly lit room can make a huge difference in your quality of life and in how much you love your home. The dining room pictured above does a great job of combining sources of light. The large floor to ceiling windows allows for an abundance of natural light. Recessed canned lights in the ceiling provide ambient light while the two chandeliers overhanging the table provide extra task lighting for a key area of the room. Finally, lighting inside the upper level cabinets illuminate the dishware that doubles as decor on display inside.