Accent and Decorative Lighting

Accent lighting is an effective and simple way to highlight or emphasize a room's special features - beautiful artwork, interesting architectural details or an attractive floral arrangement. Look around your living room. Should you showcase an arched ceiling or an antique desk? How about calling attention to the display of silver in your dining room? Then there's that interesting collection of plates in the kitchen.

To achieve effective accent lighting, consider these tips:

  • Accent lighting usually comes from lower-voltage, directional light sources -sources that are specific and can be controlled. Recessed adjustable fixtures or track lights work well for this purpose. The most energy efficient types are halogen, low-voltage halogen, and halogen PAR lamps. White halogens are often combined with warmer incandescents to provide a refined highlight in a room filled with soft ambient lighting.
  • It is best to keep accent lighting on separate switches or dimmers, apart from ambient lighting, That way, you can strike a balance between general room lighting and the item that is being accented. You can intensify the effect of accent lighting by reducing the ambient lighting in the rest of the room.
  • Where you place your lamps is important. Try different locations to create the right setting, making sure to keep the lamp as close as possible to the item you're illuminating.

What the spotlight is to accent lighting, the single fixture is to decorative lighting.

Decorative light can help express your individualism. It can simply provide adequate ambient light - perhaps from a simple hanging fixture - or it can become a work of art that sets a mood. (Consider the different effects produced by a beautiful period Tiffany lamp or a trendy, artsy neon light.)

When using decorative lighting, you can provide the ambient light you need with a ceiling-mounted fixture fitted with compact fluorescent bulbs in the center of a room.