Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling, the earlier you think about lighting design the better. A well-designed lighting plan requires some thought, so you don’t end up with poor lighting. The three-layered lighting method taken by most lighting designers includes ambient or overhead, task, and accent lighting. By layering these different types of light, you can create a variety of looks and feels in your home. A way to control all three layers of lighting is with smart home automation. Automating or presetting your lights gives you complete control over the ambiance in your home, eliminating the need to remember which lights to turn on or dim when you want a specific setting.
Why use three layered lighting design?
Three-layered lighting is a versatile approach that can be used in any room of your home, whether it’s the living room, bedroom, or kitchen. Combining the three layers of lighting can create the perfect lighting for every lifestyle scenario. Let's take a look at each and how they work together with lighting control:
Ambient lighting is the first layer of lighting and is known as general or overhead lighting, which includes natural light coming into a room; recessed cans; track lights; flush-mounted fixtures; chandeliers; and sometimes lamps and cove lighting. This is the foundation for where you will add all other lighting. These lights will be left on most of the time to provide a safe space to move around while filling up a room with a soft glow.
Task Lighting is the second layer and provides focused lighting for getting specific tasks done. This type of lighting helps you with special activities such as reading or cooking and includes desk lamps, undercabinet lighting, and pendant lighting. It’s usually lighting that appears in the middle layer of a room, supporting ambient lighting to also eliminate shadows.
Accent lighting further enhances the ambient lighting and is the third layer in lighting design. It’s used to highlight architectural features and special spaces or artwork. Some examples of accent lighting are strip lights and track lights. Some architectural spaces that accent lighting accentuates are tray ceilings, staircases, and entertainment areas such as bars.
Dimmers & Switches
If you’ve taken the three-layered approach to lighting design, you will more than likely end up with a bank of switches and dimmers on a wall that can get very confusing, not to mention unsightly and inconvenient. Remembering which set of lights to dim and turn on together could become overwhelming. To make things easy, groups of lights can be programmed to one dimmer or switch. For example, all overhead lights can be controlled by one button. Or you can set “scenes,” where multiple groups of lights are preset and triggered by one button. An example of this would be pressing a button called, “theater” and watching several groups of lights adjust to this look. A good way to think about these preset scenes is by activity or time of day – morning, day, night, dining, party, and TV. Control of one group of lights can be hidden in a closet, so you can still override presets if needed.
Lighting Control System
A good lighting control system will take your three-layered lighting plan to the next level. The lighting control systems that we design and install provide functionality, convenience, and flexibility. Think about one app that can help you control all your lighting from preprogramming lights to performing routine activities to setting different moods or scenes. These systems can utilize dimmers and sensors. Here’s an example: You arrive home, and some ambient light and task lighting turn on as you head to the kitchen. This is programmed as “welcome home." Some lighting systems allow you to include your shading, as it manages natural light. When the shades come down, maybe ambient lights go on. This is the beauty of lighting control.
Lighting Integrated With Other Technologies
If you use a whole home automation system, you can connect your lights and shading to other technologies in the home. This is the highest level of lighting control as you are creating several different activities to occur at once to set a mood or scene. Imagine you’re throwing a party – press one button and ambient and task lights dim, while accent lighting is on full illumination, along with audio turning on with your favorite party playlist and temperature adjusts to accommodate the doors being open to the patio. Your lighting system can manage lighting and shading controls alone or you can use a whole home smart home automation system, utilizing one app and one operating station. These systems are available from tablets strategically placed around the home, from mobile devices and can be voice-activated.
Tunable lighting is a new technology in the world of lighting that is worth mentioning. This type of light can change its color temperature throughout the day, simulating the natural light outside. The idea behind it is that this will help your body adjust to different times of day and improve your sleeping habits. This technology is also available to highlight art, enhancing the beauty of the piece. Want to change the lighting to different colors for a more festive ambiance, such as holidays or a party? Tunable lighting technology allows you to do this as well.
As you can see, there are many ways to light up a room and each has its purpose. We hope this blog has inspired you to look at your lighting in a new way and possibly add some layers and lighting controls to create the perfect atmosphere in your home.
A good lighting plan will take all of these elements into consideration. If you’re looking to upgrade your home’s lighting system, contact us today. Our company specializes in lighting design, lighting controls, and smart home automation. We would be happy to help you find the perfect solution for your needs. Please feel free to contact us or stop by our Pittsburgh, PA showroom for a demo.