There is no single light fixture that gives you everything
you need to illuminate a room properly. The trick is using a
variety of light sources to create a flexible, inviting
space. I call this light layering.
Light performs four basic functions:
Task Lighting is lighting by which you do work, such as under cabinet
lighting in kitchens, or reading lamps.
Accent Lighting is used to highlight objects and add
depth and dimension to an environment. Recessed adjustable
fixtures, track lights, portable uplights and directional
landscape lights are all in this category.
Decorative Lighting adds sparkle to a
room. Decorative fixtres are the supermodels of lighting -
their only purpose is to look pretty. Chandeliers and candlestick-type wall sconces fall
into this category. Decoratives should not be used as workhorses for lighting a room;
when they're too bright they
can overpower other design elements.
Ambient is gentle fill light. It softens shadows
on people's faces and fills the volume of a space with a
warm glow, as from a roaring fire. Ambient light comes from illumination that
is bounced off the ceiling. Sources such as opaque wall
sconces, torchieres, pendant hung indirect fixtures, and
cove lighting can be used to create ambient light.
By layering these four functions together you can
create environments that welcome visitors
while providing usable light for day-to-day activities.
Getting a feel for these functions will get you on the right
path to understanding how light can work for you.