Lighting 101

Lighting 101

Lighting goes a long way in emphasising the colours, textures, and accessories in your home!

We asked Natasha Laurent, architect at Office 24-7 Design + Architecture, to share some tips for making the most of your space using lighting.

3 types of lighting explained

Lighting generally falls within three categories: ambient, task, and accent. Natasha explains the difference:

  1. Ambient lighting provides overall illumination and general lighting, creating a blank
    canvas for lighting your home. It’s the most typical form of lighting and often comes
    from the ceiling. Examples: chandeliers, ceiling or wallmounted fixtures, recessed
    or track lights.
  2. Task lighting provides high illumination and concentrated light for various tasks like
    reading, studying, cooking, and grooming. Examples: table lamps, wall-mounted fixtures.
  3. Accent lighting adds drama and interest to a space and accentuates plants, art, sculptures, and
    outdoor features. This is highly concentrated light, and casts light and shadows effectively. Examples: ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed lights.

What type of lighting to use, and where

Natasha’s room-by-room guide to the best types of lighting, and the kind of fittings and fixtures that’ll achieve the desired look:

The kitchen:

All three types of light are used in this space. Ambient light illuminates the general area while task lighting
highlights areas where food is prepared and cooked, and accent lighting highlights cupboard space. ‘Gone are the days of the stark, fluorescent kitchen,’ says Natasha.

‘Opt for strip lighting under cupboards where you’re preparing food, and spotlights near cupboard doors.’


  • Use warm, soft light in bedrooms, lounges, and dining rooms to create a cosy atmosphere.
  • Use white, bright light in bathrooms and kitchens to create a fresh and energetic atmosphere.

The dining room:

Ambient light with dimmer switches to create a relaxed atmosphere and a few accent lights
are perfect for this space. ‘Beautiful pendant lights are a great way to play with ambient light in the
dining room,’ says Natasha.

‘Look for cluster lights or chandeliers, and use wall-mounted spotlights around serving areas.’


The bathroom:

This space needs overall illumination with ambient light and plenty of task lighting around areas for grooming.
Natasha suggests wall-mounted lighting around the mirror and basin, and LED pendant lights for ambient light.

Tip: Install a dimmer switch for your bathroom so you can dim the lights when using the bathroom late at night or early in the morning when your eyes struggle to adjust to bright light.

The bedroom:

The bedroom needs ambient light with dimmer switches to set a relaxing mood before sleep and one or two task lights for reading.

‘Use beautiful lampshades around your ambient lighting to soften the overall light in your bedroom, and look for quirky bedside lamps to add an element of fun to the room,’ suggests Natasha.

Home offices:

Overall illumination can be achieved with ambient lighting while task lighting highlights work areas, and accent lighting draws our attention to bookshelves or interesting pieces of art. Natasha suggests ceiling pendants for overall illumination, and an interesting table or standing lamp for task lighting.

The lounge:

Again, all three types of lighting are used for this versatile space. Ambient lighting with a dimmer switch illuminates the whole space while task lighting is used around reading nooks, and accent lighting highlights fireplaces or artworks.Chandeliers and pendants, standing lamps, and spotlights are best for this space.

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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