How to Represent Lights in the Interior Design


How to Represent Lights in the Interior Design


Everything You Need to Know About How to Represent Lights in the Interior Design

The application of lights in the interior design is a key element that cannot be overlooked. Light transforms spaces and ultimately determines how you use and experience the space. Light influences the mood of the room. It can be used to highlight the statement pieces of art in residential, commercial, and public areas. It is therefore essential to pay attention to how you represent light in the interior design.


Layering of Light

What separates a plain room from a professionally designed interior space is the layering of light. Applying different layers of light to a room gives it more depth and contrast. With layers, you are not only able to provide sufficient lighting for the recommended use of the room, but also efficiently add character to the space.  



There are three fundamental categories of lighting layers used in interior design


Ambient Lighting

Ambient light refers to the general layer of light that makes the space functional. According to an article published in Deconovo, although natural daylight can be factored in as the main source of ambient light, additional artificial light is required for dawn, dusk, and night use.

Every room has a recommended illumination level according to the activities that take part in it. For example, the recommended illuminance required in a restaurant is much lower than that required in an office.

The illuminance measures the amount of light per square meter of the working area. This is what determines how many lighting points you will require in the room. However, the lighting points for the ambient light fixtures need to be uniformly spaced for a more consistent distribution of light.

Flat Screen TV, Vecislavas Popa, 2020, Via Pexels


Task Lighting

An article published on LoveToKnow refers to task lighting as the light that is primarily used to illuminate a specific working plane whose activities require *9 .additional lighting to the ambient lighting provided in the room. For example, table lamps provide just the right amount of lighting required for reading, while the under-cabinet lighting in kitchens adequately illuminates the worktops for any cooking or chopping tasks.

Floor Lamp, Vecislavas Popa, 2020, Via Pexels


Accent Lighting

Accent lights make up the third layer of lighting used in interior design. They are mainly decorative and are used to draw attention to particular areas of the room. Accents lights are also used to create the desired mood of the space. In art lighting, the selection of the best accent light to complement the artwork is key. Picture lights, track lighting, wall sconces, and recessed lighting are often positioned strategically above the piece of art to accentuate it.




Selecting the Best Light Fittings for Your Lighting Layers


Different light fittings are used for different light layers. Therefore, before selecting the lamp or light fitting for your space, it is important to understand the various characteristics of light fittings, and how they affect the space. This will guide you in making a more informed decision on how to achieve your desired effect. The key aspects of light fittings to consider in your interior design include the following:


Color Temperature

Light can be classified as cool, neutral, or warm depending on the color temperature. The color temperature ranges from 2700K to 6500K, and is often measured in Kelvin. The color temperature of a lamp largely influences the mood of the room. According to the color temperature scale, light fittings can be categorized as follows:




Warm Light  

The warm light ranges between 2700K-3000K with a yellowish tone that is great for creating a more intimate and relaxing environment in areas such as restaurants or bedroom lighting. Warm light can also be used for accent lighting or as a mood light.


Empty Dining Sets at the Eatery, Huỳnh Đạt, 2019, via Pexels


Neutral Light

  The neutral light, also referred to as natural white light, ranges from 3100K to 4500K. It is often used in social rooms such as circulation areas, offices, and reception areas. It is whitish and has a clean, vibrant effect on the mood of the room.



Cool Light

 The cool light, also known as the Daylight, has a bluish tone and ranges from 4600K to 6500K. It is more suited for creating alertness in areas such as hospitals and galleries. It is also great for task lighting.



The Luminous Flux or Lumen


The intensity of light emitted by the light fitting is a key factor in interior lighting design. Higher lumens translate to brightly lit rooms such as offices and assembly areas where attention to detail and visual acuity may be required. Lower lumens on the other hand result in dimly lit and cozy rooms and are often used in spaces such as bedrooms. Therefore, when purchasing your light fittings, examine the indicated luminous flux of the lamps, to fit the intended use.

The luminous flux also determines how many light fittings you require for ambient lighting in general lighting. You can opt for less lighting points by using light fittings with higher lumens, in order to achieve the standard recommended luminance levels of the room. Alternatively, going for low lumen fittings would require more lighting points to attain the required lighting levels.


The Beam Angle


When purchasing a lamp or light fitting, the beam angle is usually indicated in the specifications. The beam angle of light can be defined as the angle of distribution of light from the light source. The beam angle determines the spread of light, therefore, dictates the lighting area covered by each lighting point. A light fitting with a wider beam angle would thus cover a larger area making it a more practical choice for ambient lighting.

For art lighting and accent lighting, lamps with a narrow beam angle can be used to highlight only the required spots in the room. This creates the required visual appeal and draws attention to the desired focal points. 

Art Exhibit, SevenStorm, 2018, via Pexels


Color Rendering

Color rendering is the effect that the lamp has on the alteration of the true color of the subject it is lighting. The capability of color rendering of the lamp is particularly important in lighting applications where the true color appearance of the objects and surfaces may be encouraged.  


Methods of Lighting in Interior Design

Whether it’s art lighting, lighting for art-centric room, or just the general lighting, there are four main methods of lighting that can be applied to create different visual effects in a space. These include:






This is the most commonly used form of general lighting. As the name suggests, in downlighting, the lighting points are positioned at the ceiling and shed light downwards to the subject or the working area. It is often used in ambient lighting for better distribution of light.






During uplighting, the light is illuminated to the ceiling, which then reflects it and provides indirect lighting to the room. Uplighting is used in more subtle applications where the glare from direct lighting might be detrimental.  Uplighting is also commonly used in landscaping, lighting floor areas with changes in levels for safety, and around outdoor sculptures.

Black and White Stand Lamp, George Becker, 2016, via Pexels





In backlighting, the light is positioned at the back of the subject. Since the subject obstructs the light, backlighting creates a glow at the back and the edges, for a more decorative depth that distinguishes the subject from its background. Backlighting is an amazing way to light paintings and wall hangings. It is often used as accent lighting.

White Sink, Julie Aagaard, 2019, via Pexels



Front Lighting


In this method, the subject is illuminated directly from its front. While this is a great method for minimizing shadows, it may result in a flat image effect and glare, where the object is reflective.

Where necessary, it is possible to apply more than one method of lighting for a varied effect of the lighting scheme. For instance, in art lighting, you can employ both backlighting and downlighting for more emphasis. You can also use lamps with different color temperatures and lumens for a more dramatic effect.




Forms of Lighting


Now that you understand the various characteristics and methods of lighting, you can move on to select the specific type of lighting that suits your lighting design needs.

There are a number of lighting options and designs to match any décor. However, it is advisable to include at least one statement lighting piece in your home. Most people incorporate this concept using a stunning stairwell chandelier or magnificent lights. With the common application of gypsum ceilings, recessed lighting and LED strip light have also become popular.

Add modern wall sconces and track lighting where necessary, for accent lighting. A pendant light is also splendid for reception areas and kitchen bars. For task lighting, incorporate a portable floor or table lamps for a more sophisticated look in your modern interior design.

Round Brown Wooden Table with Chairs Inside Room, Vecislavas Popa, 2018, Via Pexels



New Technologies in Interior Lighting


There are new technologies that you should definitely consider as you represent lights in the interior design. These include energy-saving lamps and automated lighting control.

LED lights are currently the most widely used energy-saving lamps available in the market. It is important to check the energy-saving rating and energy consumption (measured in Watts) of your lamps during purchase. This will allow you to save incredibly on your annual energy costs.

The Automated Lighting Controls such as the motion-sensitive lights and the scheduled lighting control systems have also been designed to maximize energy cost savings. These allow lights to automatically switch on only when they are needed, and automatically dim down or switch off whenever there is no one in the room. Motion-sensitive lights are now commonly used in commercial buildings where previously, lights were switched on for all floors, regardless of the use, thus resulting in lots of wastage.



In Conclusion


Have fun with lighting. Explore different lighting ideas. Experiment with a variety of lights with different characteristics for your architectural lighting design as well as interior lighting. If you still have a challenge achieving the mood or effect you need, you can consult a lighting designer to prepare a lighting plan and recommend the best lighting combinations for your space. For interior design students, architects, builders, and curators lighting design is a whole exciting concept that must be mastered for a successful career.

Our Guest Author, Winny Okoth, is a practicing Construction Project Manager and Interior Designer. She is also currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Construction Project Management. Winny Okoth has a great passion for every form of design and has the mastery of principles of design, as well as 3D visualizations skills for architectural and interior design renders.