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Lighting Types - The basics

Closing Down Sale

When planning any lighting arrangements it is worthwhile understanding the basics, particularly as everything will be taken from these points.

The three accepted classifications of lighting are usually selected in order to represent their intended use, namely; General lighting (or ambient lighting), Accent lighting (feature highlighting) and Task lighting (for specific tasks).

During these articles we will try to show how good lighting plans will make good use of all of the basic lighting types, and how the room atmosphere and “warmth” can be enhanced, tasks made easier to see and how key design features may be easily, yet subtly, highlighted.

General Lighting / Ambient Lighting,

Simply point, the ambient lighting type will provide the overall illumination to an area. The general or ambient lighting will be the key point of your lighting plan and will, in essence, play the part of daylight. It will also be the catalyst which binds the task and accent lighting into your overall scheme.

The general lighting type will enable you to see safely in the room by providing a safe and comfortable background lighting scheme and comfortable level of brightness.

For most of us the types of light fittings that we will utilise in order to create the general lighting scheme may well include ceiling lights, chandeliers, wall mounted fittings, track or recessed lighting, and /or possible table and floor lamps

General lighting is fundamental to a lighting plan and as such should be your first consideration. Without a great deal of thought, general lighting schemes can be the first point of most lighting problems and create a very bland and uninteresting effect.

Task lighting

This is predominantly functional and comprises of focused or concentrated areas of light designed to help you perform specific tasks such as reading, sewing, cooking, or perhaps homework or working on a computer.

Task lighting may be provided by track lighting, possibly pull-down pendant lighting, or lamps. An angle poise lamp is a good example where Task lighting needs to be bright enough to prevent eyestrain and mistakes occurring and it needs to be free of glare and shadows.

Accent Lighting

The type of lighting highlights design features in and around your home and adds warmth and creativity to a room by enhancing visual interest, and gives a great deal of texture and depth to the ambient lighting by adding light and shade

This mainly decorative lighting type may highlight anything from pictures, books, glass and ornaments to interior design features. Different fabrics or wall textures can create stunning effects once enhanced by clever use of accent lighting.

Accent lighting, most often created by a mixture of halogen spotlights, down and up-lighters, tracks and table lamps requires much more light on the focal point as the ambient lighting around it.


Modern lighting | Contemporary lighting | Traditional lighting
Exterior lighting and lanterns | Table lamps | Floor lamps
Picture lights | Spot lights | Bathroom lighting | Kitchen lighting
Designer light fittings