Lighting is the foundation to our vision, the most powerful of our senses. Light is visible radiant energy, revealing our world in all its shapes and colors to us. Electric light came into existence around 1880 with the development of the carbon filament light bulb. Advances in lighting technology in the early twentieth century led to the development of luminaires, or light fixtures. Light fixtures provide a path for electricity to power a light bulb and our fixtures allow for visual activity day or night, enhance our décor, create a mood, and even provide safety in otherwise hard-to-see environments. While initially light fixtures were utilitarian, over the past 125 years they have evolved into the cornerstones of all built environments. Light fixtures not only allow us to see, but they also provide character, charm, and ambiance in our spaces.
Lighting is best applied in any space when it is “layered.” Relying on any one light fixture to completely illuminate a room is usually a difficult task. Effective lighting in any space should have an ambient, task, decorative, and accent layers. Layers should have the ability to be used all together or independently. In this way, you can best suit your needs in any room for any function at any time. Ambient lighting is generally achieved with recessed or tracking lighting installed at the appropriate intervals in the ceiling. This is the general illumination layer that provides basic, overall lighting. Task lighting should be installed any where in space that specific tasks are performed such as mini-pendants over a kitchen island, under cabinet lighting, a table or floor lamp placed next to your favorite reading chair. Decorative lighting are the show pieces of every room. Decorative fixtures do not need to be expensive to be stylish. These are the fixtures that everyone will notice and that set the mood of the room along with your décor. Decorative fixtures come in all styles — traditional, transitional, and modern — and in a wide variety of finishes. Finally, accent lighting is used to provide additional illumination on a treasured work of art or other special feature of your room. Accent lighting can be achieved with a recessed light with a trim meant to focus the beam of light or a similar mono-point style fixture that directs and targets light in a specific direction.