Getting your lights right is one of the easiest ways to double up the glam quotient of your home. Some time back I had written a post on the 3 basic things you need to know about home lighting. We discussed the different types of lighting there, and said that we use accent lighting to improve the aesthetics of any room. So today, let’s figure out how exactly to go about doing that.
Why Use Accent Lighting?
Well, like we said earlier, lights play a huge, HUGE part in the interiors of your home. You can totally transform a room by how you light it up. Look at the pic above. If accent lighting can be so dramatic in a bathroom, imagine what you can do with the rest of your home! Let me give you an example.
Remember the Master Bedroom from our last project?
The room is bright and airy and great as it is. Now look at it at night, with the accent lights on.
The room gets this dreamy feel. The colours on the cushion covers look deeper and richer, the sequin on the sheers glitters in the light and the whole room looks warmer and more cozy. This is not the only lighting option in this room. We do have ambient lights too. (You can see the ceiling lights are off). So if there is work to be done, we can easily put on more lights and get the same daylight feel that we have in the first pic. But the accent lighting gives us a relaxed and glamorous ambience whenever we want it.
What is Accent Lighting?
Also, the two pictures give us an immediate indication to what accent lighting is. While the first picture has an even level of light throughout the room (which we achieve at night with ambient lights), accent lighting is uneven. The shadows are as important as the light. Certain areas shine through because the other areas are in shade. And sometimes you can create more drama with the shadows than the light!
You highlight certain areas of the room and leave others a little darker. The accent lights bring your attention to the parts that you want to see. To whatever is beautiful and special about the room. It ignores the normal / boring parts of the room. Obviously, if you highlight only the best parts of your room, it will look more glamorous!
Which brings us to the next question…
What Can We Highlight With The Accent Lighting?
Whatever you really like about your room, that’s what you can highlight. The areas you would want to focus on. The parts you would want your eyes to go to first when you enter a room, get some extra light on them and make them shine. There are so many options here…
(1) Paintings or Artwork:
See how the light on that sculpture immediately brings your eyes to it. You tend to ignore the rest of the room. The whole space looks extraordinary simply because you’re focusing on the one thing that is extraordinary in it. The spotlight on the floor just before it creates even more drama.
You have niches in which you’ve displayed your favourite curios and collectibles? Focus on them. You can further highlight the niches by giving them a different colour or texture from the rest of the wall. In this picture they’re finished in wood. You could use a different stone, or mirrors or even just paint them another colour.
Just like niches, add lights to your shelves to highlight your favourite things. You can do this by adding spotlights or LED strips.
(4) A Wall Texture:
Here we have a wall clad in natural stone. When you throw some light on the stone, it’s natural texture is highlighted because of the shadows it creates. We decided we didn’t need artwork here. The wall itself looks great in the light.
Plants always look great in the day. You throw some light on them and they can look spectacular at night. Again, each plant and every leaf has it’s own different colour and texture and it is this variation that makes great ‘artwork’ when you highlight it.
Use uplights with plants and you have the additional drama of the shadows they create on the wall. It’s free and natural artwork!
Throwing light on curtains is a great way to add accent lighting to a room. A pretty embroidery or a silk sheen are very well highlighted with lights. Here we used the orangish colour of the curtains to fill the whole room with a golden glow.
Here the lights are placed behind the semi-sheer fabric, creating a play of light and dark in the fabric itself.
(7) Use Accent Lights Themselves as the Highlight:
These small, simple light fittings have been placed perfectly to create such a pretty pattern with the light itself. This is a great example of playing with light and shadow to create a focal point.
That brings us to the next part. Now that we’ve picked what exactly we want to highlight in the room, how do we go about highlighting it?
How Do We Add Accent Lights In A Room?
(1) Indirect or Concealed Lighting:
This is a great way to highlight your focus area without getting light into your eyes. LED strips are the most flexible and easy way to conceal lights. They can be customised to fit any shape and size and take very little space anywhere. Even a simple staircase looks like something special when you add lights to it!
(2) Spotlights In The Ceiling:
Another simple way of adding accent lights. You can focus the light directly onto the area you want to highlight so it lights it up without getting into your eyes.
We also have a daylight picture of this room. Though it’s a bright and beautiful room in the day too, the pics speak for themselves. It’s much more glam with the lights on at night.
This is one of the easiest ways to add accent lights to your room simply because you don’t need to pre-plan too much. You can buy a lamp and plug it in at any time, while with any other type of fixed lighting you have to plan ahead while getting your interiors done.
Here we used a table lamp at the far corner and a floor lamp near the plant. The shadows of the floor lamp and the plant on the wall are amazing themselves. There are spots on the 2 paintings to highlight them. With all the various accent lights, there is enough light in the room to be able to see clearly.
(4) Track Lights:
This is one of the easiest forms of fixed lighting to add. It is surface mounted so you can add it on to your ceiling or wall without too much planning. Also the lights on the track can easily be moved up and down and the direction changed according to where you want to throw the light. This makes it flexible to use.
Just changing the direction of the light, from down to up instead of up to down, can create a whole different look. Here too, just the simple texture in the wall is highlighted using lights. No other wall decor is required. As seen above, uplights are great on plants too.
(6) Pendant Lights:
When you use a pendant light in the center of a room it gives out even light all around. It is usually considered to be a source of ambient light. But in this picture the pendants make great accent lights. With darker shades and dimmer bulbs, they give a glow in the corners, above the side tables, and create a soothing, relaxed atmosphere in this bedroom.
That about wraps it up. We’ve got loads of tips on the why, what and how of accent lighting above. Start thinking of ways to add a few accent lights to your room and see it transform itself.
To end with, here are some points to keep in mind while you are planning your accent lighting.
Keep These Points In Mind:
(1) Accent lights are uneven. They do not light the room evenly. They focus on parts of the room you want to highlight.
(2) A lot of the things we want to highlight are at eye level. The accent lights must fall brightly on those things, but not in our eyes. So use a lot of indirect lighting. When using lamps or wall sconces at eye level, make sure the shades are translucent and do not allow direct light from the bulb to fall into our eyes.
(3) While accent lights are slightly on the dimmer side, turning them down too low is uncomfortable. If you are entertaining in your living room and your guests can’t see the snacks on the table clearly, that’s too little light. If you can’t see the expression on your friend’s face on the sofa across from you, you need more light. Putting off lights is not accent lighting.
(4) Accent lights cannot be the only light in your room. You must have good, bright ambient lights first. You can always choose to turn these off when not required.
I hope that was helpful and inspires you to glam up your room with lights. Feel free to write in with questions and comments below. And remember to sign up here for regular updates so you don’t miss a single post!
Until next time,