Ambient, Task & Accent: How to Layer Lighting like a Pro + New Lighting in our bedroom!

April 18, 2019

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This post is sponsored by Troy Lighting

Our bedroom is the one room in our home that has been evolving for years and never really complete, but after this week, I think I’m cautiously calling it done. The cherry on top? Lighting, of course. For years, Chris has been rocking a floor lamp on his side of the bed and I’ve been working with an old table lamp on mine. But a few weeks ago, we welcomed a pair of Artifact Graystone lamps from Troy Lighting and it has made a huge difference.

The lamps are substantial and textural and interesting and beautiful! We’re actually giving away a pair of them on Instagram today because we know you will love them just as much as we do! You can enter here.

While a matching pair of lamps would have set us up for happiness and contentment for at least another year, we pushed through and added one last thing that fixed a pain point in our bedroom since almost the beginning. Our leaner mirror is directly across from a large window, so while it bounces light around like crazy, looking in it during the day is kind of like looking at your silhouette. All back light!

We remedied the situation, and balanced the awkward wall with two of these Juniper Sconces on either side of the mirror (and a call to an electrician to add junction boxes since there was no lighting here previously–worth it!). It balanced the mirror, wall and lighting in the rest of the room perfectly. We hung them a little wider in case another mirror (or art!) one day ends up here. Sconces are always a good idea, imo.

When it comes to lighting, the more the merrier, really. But we always recommend that every room have at least 2-3 sources of light and since our bedroom officially has all three types, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a quick lesson on layering lighting.

The three types of lighting are:

1. Ambient Light: This is the most basic type of general lighting. It includes the natural light from your windows and the lighting that substitutes for that natural light like recessed lighting, ceiling fixtures, track lighting, etc.

In most cases (except for the kitchen), we put this lighting on dimmers because it allows us to control how bright or dim the overall vibe of the room is at any given time. A big mistake I see over and over again is ambient light being used as the sole light source in a home. [Insert Michael Scott Noooo! gif here]

2. Task Lighting: This second layer of lighting in a room is my favorite because it’s so functional without being as blaring as Ambient light can be. (And I’m a sucker for a lamp.) Task lighting is the light that helps you perform tasks like reading, cooking, applying make-up, pay the bills, etc. Think table lamps, swing arm lamps, under counter lights, vanity lights, floor lamps, desk lamps–all the lamps that I love so much.

Before you start your lighting plan for your room, make a list of all the tasks you may complete in that room and light appropriately. So your room needs 3 lamps? Lucky you. :)

3. Accent Lighting : I like to think of accent lighting as the mood boosters of the room. If you want to add accent lighting to your space (and, I mean, yes! do it!) think about how you want each room to feel, and if there are certain things you want to highlight or disguise. Because on top of adding extra glow and ambience, it can also be used to accent architectural features and important objects (like art! that killer arch!), and to draw attention away from the things that aren’t as pleasing–look at me, not at the light switch! not the soffit! Think of bookcase or niche lighting, picture lighting, wall sconces and uplighting. Accent lighting is perfect to add to walls or areas that are just missing something or too wide for their own good (which was definitely the case in our room where the mirror was less than half as wide as the small wall it was on. Now it looks so much more balanced.

In my opinion, lighting will have the single greatest impact on your home–above nearly everything else you can improve–it will even affect your paint color! So it’s definitely worth spending some time planning out and layering in.

Don’t forget to head over to Instagram to enter to win a pair of the Artifact lamps from Troy Lighting we used in our bedroom! We’ll announce the winner Monday!

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What do you think?

  1. Kenzie says:

    Hi Julia and Chris! I was wondering what type of recessed lighting do you suggest size and color. We went to Home Depot and had the hardest time finding which ones we needed! Thanks!

  2. Kelly says:

    For bedside lighting, do you prefer lamps rather than sconces? I just read your bedroom evolution post and noticed you’ve had both. I’m trying to decide on bedside lighting and would love to know your thoughts!

    • Julia says:

      Oh man, that’s tough! Wall sconces leave lots of room for other stuff–which is a good and bad thing. I like not giving myself the opportunity for clutter so table lamps work best for us.

  3. Lisa says:

    Great post, so much helpful information! My challenge is my kitchen. No recessed lights, no island, and teeny tiny. We have one overhead fixture in the middle of the room and one pendant over the sink. I would love your suggestions for the TYPE of light we should have in the ceiling. The house came with a long florescent fixture (which was out before we finished unpacking haha!), then we tried a flat mount round light, then a track light, and now we just have a temporary flush mount again. We are updating the room and will have tongue and groove cedar on the ceiling. Any suggestions (from anyone!!) would be appreciated!

  4. Emily says:

    Thanks so much for this post, super helpful! I have can lights in my kitchen as well as large clear glass Pendant lights over my peninsula but there is still a shadow when I stand there to work. Any suggestions?

  5. Lela says:

    Hey Chris and Julia! I absolutely LOVE wall sconces and these ones right here are gorgeous! Unfortunately, we are renters and I HATE exposed cords of any kind. Have you ran across any attractive wall sconces that are battery operated?

  6. Tina Peterson says:

    Thank you for this. We just bought and moved into a house with NO lighting in the bedroom. Seriously, there is no window (makes for great sleeping) and no ceiling lighting at all. I will use your tips above to help make lemonade out of the lemon of no light. The rest of the place is so wonderful we decided every house has some kind of blemish to deal with.

  7. Julie says:

    Can you tell me where you got your light blue blanket? Thank you!

  8. Sarah says:

    I’d love to know how many can lights you have in your bedroom and approximate sizing of your bedroom if you don’t mind sharing. Pictures look like maybe 4? But I couldn’t be sure. Thanks for sharing and it all looks lovely!

  9. Mollie says:

    What type of bulb do you prefer in lamps? Soft white, bright white, LED?? I think I’ve purchased 4 different types and none of them seem right. Either too yellow-y or too sterile feeling!

  10. Carrie says:

    At the risk of being indelicate, what was the approximate cost for having an electrician do something like that?

  11. Lauren says:

    Your bedside tables are beautiful! We have been looking for something this size to fit our large master bedroom. Where are these from? Thanks!

  12. Julie says:

    I see the duvet in your source list, unable to open the link. Is it a duvet cover? Love the blanket and would love to duplicate the duvet as well:)

  13. Amy Martens says:

    Hey Julia! Do you have any suggestions for layering lighting when there isn’t ambient light? Read: old house living room with decorative plaster ceilings and no overhead lighting… I’m struggling a bit on how to balance the lighting! Thanks

    • Julia says:

      Start with layering in a few lamps! We actually just installed ambient light in the form of recessed lighting in our living room last year. Before that, we had a large arc lamp that acted as our ambient light and two other lamps for task lighting and eventually added an accent light over some large art (they make plug in and battery operated versions!).

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