How to layer lighting in a room

August 14, 2015

How to layer lighting in a room

If you’ve been following our blogs a bit, you know we often mention layering lighting. It can be described as the practice of placing lights at various heights, to achieve a balanced level of lighting in your home. Basically, your room will feel a lot more homely and comfortable when you turn the lights on in the evening. But did you know you can “layer” lights in various other ways, too? In particular, you can layer colours, styles, brightness and size. Keeping these 5 home lighting ideas in mind can help you determine which lighting to place where, making the lighting look dynamic and stylish at the same time. So let’s not waste any more time and have a look at how to layer lighting the right way!

1. Layering height

One of the more familiar design rules is that you need to be layering your lighting in height. If possible, have a mix of floor lamps, table lamps and pendant lights. Practically, having lights at various heights spreads the light throughout the room better, and allows you to place them where particular tasks are performed. But it also makes the room more well-lit in general, creating an overall pleasant level of brightness. This doesn’t necessarily mean the whole room has to be super bright. Layering brightness is also important.

2. Layering brightness

In terms of brightness, layering lighting means you have enough lights and options to control the brightness in a space to suit a particular mood or activity. The easiest way to do this is by means of dimmers, which are great to change your general lighting from bright to a more low-key lighting level. If you have lights that aren’t compatible with a dimmer, a combination of table and floor lamps or canned lights is great to create softer, ambient lighting. This also gives your room a more dynamic feeling.

3. Layering colour

Don't be afraid to mix and match colours, but don’t overdo it either. What usually works is to choose up to three strong complementing colours or materials that stand out against a more neutral background. With this colour scheme, you can still make a room feel more layered and interesting with a few mismatched items. Pick a floor lamp in a different colour than your table lamps, for example, but let them keep the same shade for continuity. Lamps can make a real statement this way without feeling out of place.

4. Layering style

In keeping with the example of mismatched lamps, using different lamp styles can really work to make your interior design varied. With styles, you also layer lighting by going for a different design with one or multiple lights while keeping one element the same to bring everything together. This can be colour, shade shape or material, for example. The example above by Tiltpixel shows two totally different lights – two vintage industrial wall lights on a swing arm and two contemporary pendant lights above the bar in the back. Both fit into the interior because of their similar chrome finish and designating area.    

5. Layering size

Layering lighting in terms of size means you have to consider the proportions but also the purpose when deciding on a lighting fixture. This is directly related to scale: a large floor lamp over a small occasional chair would work serve its purpose as a reading light but wouldn’t work well when it comes to scale. It would look out of place. On the other hand, if your seating is large you should look at medium to large lamp bases. Make sure you have lights of various sizes in your room for a dynamic look, but that all of these fit into their particular ‘zone’.

Height, brightness, colour, style and size – these 5 home lighting ideas to layer lighting should help you look at your rooms in a different way. Consider which of these boxes are already ticked in your rooms and which could be improved. Did you learn something new or have some tips of your own? We would love to hear what you think in the comments below!

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