LIGHTING DESIGN // Layer Your Lighting

Dining room decor inspiration with chandelier and decorative light bulbs


You’ve heard it many times – good lighting can transform the look and feel of a space.

Often people hear this and assume it can be done with a single, perfect fixture. Unless you’re dealing with a small storage room, it’s most likely not the case. The more appropriate statement should be that a thoughtful lighting plan can transform your space.

Ideally there are three layers of lighting used to create a balance of dimension and brightness for your space – ambient, task and accent. Each serves different purposes and work together to create a customizable lighting plan for your unique layout, design aesthetic and life style.

Here are the cliff notes for each layer:


The foundation layer of lighting that provides general illumination of your space.

It generally comes from your ceiling lights and depending on the size and design of your space may include:

  • Flush mount or semi-flush mount light fixtures
  • Recessed ceiling lights
  • Multi-bulb chandeliers

A rule of thumb is that you’ll need 20 lumens per square foot for adequate lighting. Keep in mind your needs may vary based on a variety of factors including failing vision, architectural obstructions or personal preference.


The second layer is localized illumination is needed to perform specific activities without strain.

This light is focused and bright to complete a specific task, such as reading or cooking, and may include:

  • Floor, desk or table lamps
  • Under-cabinet lights
  • Bathroom vanity lights

A rule of thumb is that you’ll need 50 lumens per square foot for adequate lighting. Choose the color temperature that best helps you achieve your task such as a bright daylight tones (4000+) for sewing or warmer tones for reading (2700-3000).


The third layer creates an inviting ambience and visual interest for your space.

It’s often regarded as the ‘jewelry’ of your room and includes the light fixtures that are most fun to plan, including:

  • Chandelier over a dining table
  • Sconces above a mantel
  • Pendants over an island

Given the decorative nature of accent lights there are no rules around brightness. For a restaurant-style ambience or relaxing, cozy feel choose warm, extra warm or candle light color temperatures.


Understanding these three layers of light, and their purposes, will help you craft a design plan that suits your unique space and personal design style. Each layer fills a need for comfort, function and beauty and leaves you with the most option for customization, especially when paired with independent dimmers.

In real life, you may find accent and task light fixtures that offer the brightness and beam spread that is adequate for ambient light at the same time and that is fine! It’s all about being thoughtful in your approach and finding the balance you like best – so it becomes a space you can enjoy.

Bright coffee table inspiration with cactus and trendy table lamp


Our Printed Light Bulbs can be thoughtfully integrated into any layer of your lighting plan:

  • AMBIENT: Feature multiple bulbs in a beautiful chandelier or flush mount light fixture, in addition to recessed ceiling lights or alone, with 20 lumens per square foot as a guide.
  • TASK: Choose lighter styles that provide more light such as Marble or Pine for reading or warmer styles like Mahogany for winding down before bed.
  • ACCENT: It’s all fair game here! Let your favorite light bulb design inspire a fixture or visa versa. Check out our light fixture design guides and Pinterest boards for inspiration.

I hope you found this post helpful. Let me know if you have any questions and I am happy to help!

Stay bright,


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