An evenly lighted room is boring; variations in brightness, highlight, and shadow provide visual relief to the occupant. Too much contrast, however, can destroy the interior design. The key to a great design is a balance of task, accent, and general lighting.
Task lighting is light used to work by; it is illumination from a nearby source, or sources, which allows the performance of visual tasks. Task lighting is important in kitchens, perhaps as under-cabinet lights that illuminate the countertop, where the food is prepared. Desk lamps can be used for studying. Accent lighting is intended to emphasize an object or draw attention to a particular architectural feature. Accent lighting is often used to highlight art pieces, sometimes with track lights. Finally, there is general, or ambient, lighting. It is the background light in a space that reduces harsh contrasts between pools of task or accent lighting, and gives an even level of illumination throughout a space. This may be a single luminaire, or several recessed cans.
The most important factor to consider when designing the lighting in a space is the people who will occupy it. Good quality light should be provided to see by, as well as to feel by. First of all, what is the space going to be used for: working, viewing, circulating, or living? Consider what people will be doing in the space. Will it be used to cook, study, or eat? Also, consider the quantity and quality of light needed to perform tasks, the architecture, and the décor. What is the atmosphere of the space, and the relationship to adjacent rooms?
Lighting design is an art, as well as a science. Light is experienced through the senses, which makes it an art. Objects are rendered in different ways: how light strikes them, the angle, quality, and intensity of the light, and the shadows created by the light. Also, the relationship between light and color can enhance or destroy a color scheme, depending on whether the lighting is taken into consideration when selecting the colors. As a science, it can be determined how much illumination is needed to light a space. A lighting designer is able to determine how things will look and feel in a space and use the information he or she collects to create a well thought out design.
You can create a spectacular design, but if it isn’t lighted properly, it will be nothing more than just an ordinary room. Proper lighting is especially important in task-oriented rooms, such as the kitchen and bath. Just remember to balance the three lighting types: task, accent, and ambient light.