Dwell On This: Transform a Room With These Three Light Sources

Dwell On This: Transform a Room With These Three Light Sources

By Gregory Han
Let there be light—a lot of it.

Why are selfies taken in posh restaurant or hotel bathrooms so ubiquitous on the ’Gram? It’s the flattering light: a divine trinity of ambient, accent, and task lighting working in harmony to highlight our best features and smooth imperfections. Thankfully, it’s a formula that you can bring to your own home by layering diverse light sources to make everyone—and everything—look its absolute best.

The good news is that you probably already have two of the three light sources needed: typically, a bright, ambient light and some secondary task lights. Perhaps you have accent lights as well, completing the trifecta, and your next move is to reposition a few lamps or fixtures to achieve full enlightenment. Extra credit if these are already connected to dimmers, as the goal is to create a room brimming with atmosphere—not an interrogation scene. 

To set the stage, dim ambient lights overhead, which are the primary culprit of unflattering shadows. Now, add a supporting cast of accent lighting around the perimeter of the room. By strategically placing these, you can illuminate a piece of art, create a dramatic shadow behind an arrangement of houseplants, or emphasize an architectural feature. Accent lighting, it’s worth noting, should be about three times brighter than its ambient counterpart, and concentrate in a single direction. Finally, position task lights—think desk lamps, sconces, pendant lamps, or floor lamps—where you’d benefit from added illumination for your routines and activities. 

And just like that, you’ve created a radiant space that looks good from every angle. 

Related Reading: 

How Much Should You Spend on a Wall Sconce?

7 Basic Types of Lighting Fixtures—and When to Use Them

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