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What is Layered Light - How to design with this in mind?

As humans, we are naturally drawn to light. It sets the mood and ambiance of a space, and it can enhance or detract from the overall design of a room. Proper lighting is crucial in architectural and residential design, and one technique that has gained popularity in recent years is Layered Light. In this post, we will delve into what layered light is, how it can be utilized in architectural and residential design, and the key principles to keep in mind when designing with layered lighting.


What is Layered Light?

Layered Light is the practice of using multiple light sources to create depth and dimension in a space. It involves the use of different types of light, such as ambient, task, and accent lighting, to illuminate various areas of a room. By layering different types of lighting, designers can create a more dynamic and visually interesting space. Layered lighting can also be used to create different moods and atmospheres in a room. For example, warmer lighting can create a cosy and intimate environment, while cooler lighting can create a more energizing and invigorating space. It can also be used to highlight specific features of a room, such as artwork or architectural details.


 multiple light sources to create depth and dimension in a space



How to Design with Layered Light in Mind Designing with Layered Light in mind requires a thoughtful approach. It's essential to consider the purpose of the room, the desired mood and atmosphere, and the activities that will take place in the space. Here are some key principles to keep in mind when designing with Layered Light:


1. Understand the Different Types of Lighting

As mentioned earlier, Layered Light involves the use of multiple types of lighting. It's crucial to understand the different types of lighting and how they can be used to create depth and dimension in a space.

  • Ambient Lighting: This is the general lighting in a space and provides overall illumination. It can be achieved through the use of ceiling-mounted fixtures, wall sconces, or recessed lighting.

  • Task Lighting: This type of lighting is used to illuminate specific areas where tasks are performed, such as a desk or kitchen island. Task lighting can be achieved through the use of table lamps, floor lamps, or pendant lighting.

  • Accent Lighting: Accent lighting is used to highlight specific features of a room, such as artwork or architectural details. It can be achieved through the use of track lighting, recessed lighting, or wall-mounted fixtures.

By understanding the different types of lighting, designers can determine which types of lighting will work best in a particular space and create a plan for layering them.


2. Plan the Lighting Layout

Once the types of lighting have been determined, the next step is to plan the lighting layout. It's essential to consider the purpose of the room, the activities that will take place, and the desired mood and atmosphere. For example, in a living room, ambient lighting can be achieved through the use of a ceiling-mounted fixture, while task lighting can be achieved through the use of table lamps or floor lamps. Accent lighting can be used to highlight artwork or architectural details. In a kitchen, ambient lighting can be achieved through the use of recessed lighting, while task lighting can be achieved through the use of under-cabinet lighting or pendant lighting above the kitchen island.


3. Consider the Colour Temperature

The colour temperature of the lighting can have a significant impact on the overall mood and atmosphere of a space. Warm lighting (lower colour temperature) can create a cosy and inviting environment, while cool lighting (higher colour temperature) can create a more energizing and invigorating space. It's essential to consider the colour temperature of the lighting when designing with Layered Light in mind. For example, in a bedroom, warmer lighting can create a more relaxing and peaceful environment, while cooler lighting in a home office can create a more focused and productive environment.


4. Use Dimmers and Controls

Using dimmers and controls is an essential aspect of designing with layered light. They allow for the adjustment of the lighting levels and can create different moods and atmospheres in a space. For example, in a dining room, dimming the ambient lighting and using accent lighting can create a more intimate and cosier atmosphere for dinner parties. In a home theatre, dimming the ambient lighting and using task lighting can create a more immersive movie-watching experience.


5. Incorporate Natural Light

Natural light can be a beautiful and effective way to enhance layered light. It can provide a sense of warmth and natural beauty to a space and can complement other types of lighting. When designing with Layered Light in mind, it's important to consider the natural light sources in a space and how they can be incorporated into the overall lighting plan. For example, in a living room with large windows, the natural light can be used as the ambient lighting, while task lighting and accent lighting can be added to enhance the overall design.


6. Balance the Lighting

Balance is key when designing with layered light in mind. It's important to create a balance between the different types of lighting and ensure that one type of lighting doesn't overpower the others. For example, in a bedroom, the ambient lighting should provide enough illumination for getting dressed, while the task lighting should be focused on the areas where tasks are performed, such as the bedside table or reading nook. The accent lighting can be used to highlight artwork or other design elements in the room.



Layered Light is a powerful tool for architects and residential designers to create depth, dimension, and atmosphere in a space. By understanding the different types of lighting and how to layer them, designers can create a more visually interesting and dynamic environment. When designing with layered light in mind, it's important to consider the purpose of the room, the desired mood and atmosphere, and the activities that will take place in the space. By incorporating natural light, using dimmers and controls, and balancing the lighting, designers can create a beautiful and functional space that enhances the overall design. Ultimately, layered light is about creating an environment that is both visually appealing and functional. With careful planning and execution, architects and lighting designers can use layered light to transform any space into a work of art.

 multiple light sources to create depth and dimension in a space

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