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4 Main Types of Lighting and Where to Use Them
August 1, 2023 6 min read

4 Main Types of Lighting and Where to Use Them

The way you light your home makes all the difference in the world. There are four main types of lighting for your household. Each lighting type has different applications and should be used in conjunction to create your ideal mood.


The four main types are:

  • Accent
  • Ambient Lighting
  • Decorative Lighting
  • Task

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting refers to lighting that spotlights or highlights specific aspects of a room and varies based on the type and use of the room. You can use it to highlight a room's architectural features, such as fireplaces, crown molding, archways, or items like artwork or plants. In the kitchen, applications can include under-cabinet lighting. Additional examples can include track lighting, spot lights, cove lighting, and much more.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the general lighting in a room that illuminates the entire room. It is typically closer to the ceiling to spread the light evenly throughout the room and wash it with light. Ambient lights are usually the first piece planned in a lighting design then other types are added around it. Ambient light can be a variety of fixtures such as downlights, track lights, panels, or troffers.

Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting accentuates a space and provides extra elegance and style to an area. These lights include wall sconces, patio string lights, fairy lights, chandeliers, pendant lights, and more. For example, decorative lights can be installed on patios for ambiance, in bedrooms, next to fireplaces, or over dining areas.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is used to brighten a specific area where work or other activities is done, like reading, crafting, cooking, etc. These can be light fixtures such as desk lamps, vanity lights, puck lights, reading lights, and recessed downlights.

Match the Lighting Types to the Room’s Purpose

For a fully effective lighting design, be thoughtful with the types and placement of your lighting. Most lighting designs begin with ambient lighting, and then the other three types are added to fill dark spots in a room or highlight specific features. Lighting is more effective when more than one type of lighting is used because it gives the room more dimension.

All four types of lighting can be layered to give the desired effect and functionality depending on the room. For instance, consider a living room space. There are many different uses of that space. It can be for relaxing, watching tv, reading a book, or entertaining. For each of these uses, you could utilize different types of lighting. 

For reading, you may mix task lighting and ambient lighting. If you are watching tv or a movie, consider a dim room and use accent lighting. However, you will want a bright space that shows off the features of your home when you are entertaining. Entertaining is a great time to utilize ambient, accent, and decorative lighting. Use ambient lighting to illuminate the whole room, accent lighting to highlight unique aspects of the space, and decorative lighting to create ambiance or provide a desired aesthetic.

If you consider each room’s purpose when choosing the lighting, you can create a functional, welcoming, and aesthetically pleasing environment in every room of your home. No matter the type of lighting, it is always best to use LED bulbs as they are more energy efficient and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, so you don’t have to change them as often.

by Lauren Scott

SEO Copywriter

Lauren Scott is an SEO Copywriter for Super Bright LEDs.  She enjoys writing about off-road and power sports and indoor residential lighting. When she's not writing about LEDs, Lauren enjoys watching horror movies and spending time with family, friends, and her cats.

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