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

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

Let there be light—a lot of it.
Text by

At a Glance


  • Anyone can do this with a bit of planning.


  • Work with what you've got, or invest in some nice lighting.


  • Take an afternoon to move your lighting options around.

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.

Dwell On This: Transform a Room With These Three Light Sources - Photo 1 of 1 -

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


Last Updated