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Light up your space: a beginner’s guide


"Design is defined by light and shade, and appropriate lighting is enormously important.” – Albert Hadly

One of the fundamental rules of interior design is working around light, with the facing of the room commanding the colour and mood you’re working with. When illuminating your interior and creating an ambience, it’s crucial to understand your space.
Firstly – it’s important to understand the difference between artificial and natural light. Natural light is free and mentally stimulating, but it’s difficult to control. It can be manipulated rather than changed.
Sunlight will differ around your home, depending on the seasons and the time of day. It also depends on where you live in the world: equatorial sunlight is warm; light in the north is much cooler. The direction your room faces also affects the amount of natural light the space has.


The illusionary effects of artificial light include altering a space in terms of depth and width. Artificial light creates zones and can highlight certain features.  To give a room a brush of warmth and to create a more welcoming environment, stick to warmer lighting, rather than clear, bright lights.
When planning a lighting scheme for your space, firstly understand the categories of: general, ambient, accent and task. (Depending on their use, brightness and placement, some lighting may fit into all categories).


Also known as ‘general lighting’, ambient lighting primarily functions to light a complete area. It’s usually is accomplished with the use of chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mount fixtures. Whilst general and ambient lighting both serve to illuminate a whole space, there’s a small difference between them. General lighting has a practical use for day and night. Ambient is more indirect. It’s softer, and has more of a dramatic vibe complete with a dimming system. The image at the top of this blog is an example of ambience in architectural lighting. Notice how it alters the appearance of the room’s size – juxtaposing the fairly small windows with the size of the space.

Image by NordWood Themes

Task Lighting

As the name suggests, task lighting should be added to a space for a purpose. It helps you to perform specific tasks, like studying, preparing and cooking food, and playing games. Task lighting should be of a stronger wattage but free of distracting glare. As task lighting will contrast with ambient lighting, it should be placed amongst ambient light to avoid straining the eyes from light to dark areas. The image below offers an example of task lighting. The spotlights make the workspace glow by using reflective materials that flood the area with light. This is complemented by ambient lighting.


After general and ambient lighting is decided upon, the next priority is mood lighting. Without mood lighting a space looks bare. Mood lighting covers up sharp shadows and empty spaces, completing the overall look. By creating soft pools of light and smoothing dark areas, good mood lighting makes a space look pleasantly inviting. It’s also a key factor of styling your interior – mood lighting can be illusionary as well as practical and aesthetically pleasing. In the image below, notice how the lamps cleverly accentuate the vertical space – a space that would typically be wasted. Also note how the room is lit up in a way that is practical, open and calming. The interior would look unfinished without this key factor.


Not to be confused with task lighting, accent lighting provides small bursts of light. Accent lighting is the function of highlighting an area to be seen as part of the décor, such as artwork inside cabinets or on pedestals. It enhances, ensuring that a thing or an object is not lost in its surroundings. Accent lighting has a higher wattage than task lighting and usually consists of more lumens. Below is an example of cabinet accent lighting. We have used a softer accent light to compliment the wood grain, yet enough to catch the eye and help the objects stand out.

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