To achieve the proper illumination for any space in your home, consider four layers of light: task, accent, decorative and ambient.

Share story

Q: I’ve heard the best way to illuminate any room is by incorporating layers of light. Any tips for selecting the right fixtures?

A: With today’s larger open floor plans, it’s difficult to adequately illuminate a space with a single light source. Use a mixture of pendants, sconces and recessed fixtures to address the lighting needs of all activities that occur in a room.

When developing a lighting plan for your home, use the TADA method. It stands for task, accent, decorative and ambient lighting. By considering all four layers of light, you can achieve the proper illumination in any space.

Ambient. Set the tone of the room and provide general illumination with ambient lighting, which can be found in ceiling fixtures like recessed lighting and chandeliers. Positioning recessed lighting around the perimeter or a chandelier in the center of a room can help the room look larger and provides an overall comfortable level of light. For more control over the brightness and mood of the room, use dimmers, so as the day progresses, you can control illumination according to the daylight.

Task. Whether you are writing, reading or cooking, task lighting can add concentrated lighting and style to any room. Table lamps can provide great task lighting for a living room and home office. If you want a bright bathroom, task lighting is key. You’ll want to light the vanity area with a fixture above the mirror or with sconces on either side. When thinking of your kitchen, consider under-cabinet lighting, where most of the work takes place.

Decorative. Lighting is also available in a wide range of sophisticated choices to match any design concept. Advancement in LED technology not only creates light in innovative forms that mask the bulb, but also affords for more decorative and stylistic lighting designs. Consider placing these fixtures in the living room to emphasize artwork, sculptures or a large plant.

Accent. Pendant fixtures are great in rooms with high ceilings to add light and attract the eye upward. Ideal over kitchen islands and dining areas, pendants offer a decorative accent and soft illumination. Design tip: Cluster an odd number of pendants at varying lengths to add visual interest, effectively fill a large space and increase the total light output for the area.

The selection of lighting is an important part of the overall design plan and should not be overlooked. When planning your next upgrade, consider incorporating layers of lighting to illuminate your home.

Brad Faber is showroom manager at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column.  If you have a home  improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.