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Layering lighting effects: why it’s important and how to integrate the principles into architectural designs

Light layering is a design concept that has become increasingly popular as designers look for ways to simultaneously bring versatility and mood to interior spaces.

When specifying lighting design, interior designers, architects and property developers want to achieve lighting that will provide an exceptional user experience and enhance architectural design. Light layering facilitates this and is now an important element of contemporary living. Detail Lighting design light layering schemes for specifiers.

What is light layering?

Light layering is a design principle that creates mood and ambiance in a room using different types of lighting all at once or independently, depending on when and how the room is used.

Moving interior design away from the stark use of a single light source, layered lighting can be adjusted and blended to create the required mood.

Why is light layering important?

Not only does light layering enhance the aesthetics of a room, it also creates a dynamic space where the lighting ‘feel’ can be adapted to the requirements of users and the tasks they want to complete.

This versatility underpins why light layering is important when specifying lighting design. Contemporary living sees rooms used for a multitude of purposes, for which a single light source is no longer sufficient.

Why is light layering important?

Often, more than one person uses the same room at the same time which is where the combination of ambient and task lighting is useful. People also use rooms at different times for different purposes. A spare bedroom may double up as an office. A dining room may also be a play room. Layered lighting allows users to adapt the lighting to suit their needs.

Light layering is also important aesthetically. It adds depth to a room, creating mood, different aesthetics and balance. This is essential for relaxation and comfort. Light layering is also specified to highlight architectural features and create unique interior design concepts.

Different types of light layering and how they affect architectural designs

Ambient lighting

This is general lighting that illuminates an entire room, often considered as a base layer. The specification of ambient lighting will depend on the size and shape of the space. Downlights are often used for the ambient layer. The colour temperature of the ambient layer should complement the décor and purpose of the room.

Task lighting

Task lighting illuminates specific areas in the likes of sitting rooms, offices, kitchens and bathrooms. Spotlights, lamps and linear LED strip lighting are all effective task lighting solutions. Task lighting removes shadows and glares that might strain the eyes. Tight beams and angles can be used to strengthen the intensity where needed.

Accent lighting

Accent lighting customises spaces, allowing designers to add flare and unique design elements to a room. Accent lighting highlights architectural features, artwork and other design elements in a room, and illuminates hard to reach areas. Track lighting, recessed lights, wall lighting and art lighting are popular choices for accent lighting.

Different types of light layering and how they affect architectural designs

Daylight layer

Natural light plays its part in light layering, as it does with the majority of lighting design concepts. The daylight layer allows artificial lighting to only be used when necessary, thereby reducing energy consumption. Incorporating a daylight layer in your light layering specification is known to  enhance mental health by reducing stress and generating positivity and focus.

Beech House

Featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme, Detail Lighting provided layered lighting designs for Beech House.

We created a relaxing layered lighting scheme in the bedroom using pendants, lamps, and the anti-glare Mini Allegro IP67 Niche recessed downlights.

In the bathroom, Voleos directional recessed downlights in the ceiling were layered with stylish gold wall lights and spotlights. Task lighting in the kitchen was provided by directional recessed downlights, the Cortes 48V track system and suspended pendants.

Take a look at the Beech House case study for more information.

Choose Detail Lighting when specifying light layering for your project