The 3 Different Types of Lighting

Combining ambient, task, and accent/decorative lighting to light an area according to function and style will achieve the best results.


Also known as overall or general lighting, ambient lighting meets the necessary requirements for effective interior illumination.

Ambient lighting creates a level of brightness that is visually comfortable by bouncing light off of ceilings which provides an even diffusion with minimal shadows. Typically, a central source mounted to the ceiling allows for ambient lighting.


Often used to increase illumination and improve contrast, task lighting is focused on the specific activities performed in a room, such as reading, cooking, and grooming. Kitchens require strong, shadow free lighting in areas where food preparation occurs.

Detailed grooming tasks performed in the bathroom require extra attention to vanity illumination. Reading, hobbies, and game-playing have their own lighting requirements, which can be met with a variety of pendants, wall mounts, and portables.


A room’s aesthetic features, such as art, artifacts, or architectural elements are often highlighted with accent lighting which focuses light on a particular area of object. Wall sconces can be used to create subtle or dramatic lighting effects against a textured wall, creating visual interest to a room. Table lamps positioned on a console or side table can be used to draw attention to photos or other decor items, some accent lights are not used to focus light on a particular object, but are themselves a decorative object adding finishing touches to a room.