According to the American Lighting Association, there are three basic types of lighting that work together in your home:
- Ambient (general lighting)
A good lighting plan combines all three types to light an area according to function and style.
Ambient lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as general lighting, it radiates a comfortable level of brightness without glare and allows you to see and walk about safely.
Ambient lighting can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, as well as recessed or track lights. Having a central source of ambient light in all rooms is fundamental to a good lighting plan.
Task lighting helps you perform specific tasks, such as reading, grooming, cooking, or playing games. It can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting and undercabinet lighting. Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows.
Accent lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. As part of an interior design scheme, it is used to draw the eye to houseplants, paintings, sculptures and other prized possessions. Accent lighting can also be used to highlight the texture of a brick or stone wall, window treatments or outdoor landscaping.
To be effective, accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it. Accent lighting is usually provided by recessed and track lighting or wall-mounted picture lights.
Source: American Lighting Association, Basic Types of Lighting