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How to Choose the Right Lighting for Your Home: A Complete Guide to Different Types of Lighting

Not All Lighting is Created Equal

With an abundance of light designs available on the market, new homeowners often find themselves spoilt for choice. With so many different options readily available, light planning for a new space can quickly turn into a chore. It helps to tackle it in smaller chunks – with a systematic approach and proper advice, you can focus less on the technical aspect, and instead concentrate on choosing light fixtures that help to create a space that looks and feels uniquely yours.

We will break down aspects of lighting design into four different categories: general lighting, accent lighting, decorative lighting, and task lighting. In the following paragraphs, we will elaborate on each of these categories and the type of light they provide. Once armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to identify the types of lights you should be using in your space.


General Lighting

General lighting is the most fundamental type of lighting in lighting design. Think of it as the base ingredient in a dish: the condiments and seasonings add flavor and texture, but the dish has to be built upon the base ingredient. In the same way, general lighting sets the overall ambience of a space.

While traditionally done using ceiling lights, general lighting can be derived from any kind of fixture: for example, it is entirely possible to light a bedroom up with strategically placed table lamps, floor lamps and wall sconces. However, the ceiling is often still the prime candidate for placing your general lighting fixtures, as it provides the widest reach.

The most prevalent of general lighting fixtures in Singapore are LED strips, ceiling lamps and downlights. As the main source of light should be illuminating the space in a comfortable way, we generally prefer general lighting to be anti-glare with a soft lighting output. Hidden LED strips is currently the most popular general lighting option among home-owners. With proper light planning, LED strips is able to brighten up the entire space without visual clutter due to its slim and flexible form that can be cleverly hidden from view. 

Cove lighting creates a subtle balance that effectively illuminates the communal space in a comfortable manner.

📷 @urbandelineation

Regardless of the type of fixtures used, the most important choice you will need to make when it comes to general lighting is color temperature. Here are our recommended options in a nutshell:

3000K warm white: reminiscent of incandescent bulbs, 3000K warm white light creates a cosy, relaxed atmosphere its their orange/yellow hues. Commonly used in hotels, restaurants.

4000K cool white: a relatively neutral light color temperature that can fit into almost any type of theme/purpose. Provides light that is comfortable for both work and play, but still able to give a cosy feel. Generally preferred for spaces like study rooms, home kitchens.

6500K daylight: this color temperature is the coolest of the 3 types of lights, and provides the highest amount of visibility and color reproduction. Often used in medical settings (e.g. clinics, hospitals), where function is fully prioritized over aesthetics.

Image from Google

When planning for general lighting, do account for your choice of wall paint, furnishing colors and any light coming in from openings in the space (e.g. windows), as these will also affect the overall lighting aesthetic.


Accent Lighting

Accent lighting, as the name suggests, is an element of home lighting where light fixtures are used to accentuate and highlight spots of interest in the house. When we step into a new space, our eyes are naturally drawn towards spots that are bright. Through this, accent lighting can be used to create these focal points.

The Demi Double Ceiling Lamp enhances the space by providing focus without overshadowing its unique elements:

Fixtures that can be used as accent light includes, but are not limited to: spotlights, tracklights. They are often fixtures that emit a relatively narrow and focused beam of light.

Even if there are no spots you want to highlight in a space, accent lighting can still be beneficial for aesthetics, as it will help to create contrast: dark spaces become darker, bright spaces become brighter. This will, in turn, bring depth to a space and prevent it from looking two-dimensional.

The Eclipse Ceiling Lamp's precise beam angle produces a distinctive "scallop" curve on the surface of the wall.:

Some care is necessary, though, when picking out accent lighting fixtures. It is common to have situations where the accent lights in a space can turn out to be glaring due to their sharper light output. The risk of this can be mitigated by choosing fixtures that can be rotated/turned to throw their light in a different direction.

Accent lighting is usually used in communal spaces, e.g. living room, dining area, where there tends to be elements in a house where homeowners will want to draw attention to.

Decorative Lighting

Due to the nature of their purpose, these light fixtures will always be visible in a space, and therefore make up a substantial part of the interior’s outlook. Designers may sometimes use lighting fixtures to decorate a space. These fixtures form decorative lighting: lights that are put into a space mostly for aesthetic purposes.

Examples of fixtures commonly used for decorative lighting are pendant lamps, wall lamps table lamps and floor lamps. Decorative lighting can be creatively used anywhere in a home where you want to inject a bit of life or character.

The natural appearance of the Astro Wall Lamp helps to tone down the boldness of the selected walnut wood in the area, creating a subtle harmony.:

Their main purpose is to decorate the space, a decorative lighting fixture does produce some illumination, but in a limited way. It can serve as a part of the general lighting but it may not be sufficient for a functional setting.

Xander Pendant lamp's sharper beam angle creates focus point on the dining table: .

As with most things in life, too much of a good thing usually turns into a bad thing, and this is especially true for decorative lighting. Too many decorative fixtures in a space can cause visual clutter. So it is important to strike a balance between the amount of decorative lighting and aim for simplistic design for longer appreciation value.

The simplicity of the Aurora wall lamp provides an easy way to enhance a space with accent lighting:


Task Lighting

Task lighting is the simplest, and most functional of the 4 categories. Used solely for the purpose of providing functional light, they are often built to be used for specific tasks like reading or cooking. With that said, functional lights need to be bright, in diffused light output and commonly on the cooler hue color temperatures.

Diffused lighting reduces shadows as compared to focus lighting. The minimum shadow effect ensures the space is evenly well-lit and this type of light effect provides the most efficient illumination for functional use. Cooler color temperature like cool white in 4000K emits light color that is closest to sunlight, providing the ideal light color for a conducive environment.

The frosted cover on the Neve Magnetic Tracklight creates a diffused lighting effect that reduces shadows.:

Aesthetics and task lighting usually does not mix well, so it can be a challenge to create a cosy ambience with task lighting. However, with smart lighting technology become increasingly more affordable, many homeowners are making the switch to smart task lighting solutions. Being able to dim the task lights as well as control their color temperature enables users to customize the light output to best suit the task they are going to perform.

Yeelight Arwen, as depicted above, offers users a wide range of lighting options, allowing for endless possibilities:

Balance in All Things

Although we listed them as 4 distinct categories, it is common to find that your light fixtures may exist in two or three of the categories simultaneously. In our experience, a light does not necessarily have to serve just one function.

The first thing to do when planning for lights in a new space is to identify which of the 4 categories are required. Once that is decided, consider which category prospective light designs belong to, and plug the choices in accordingly until you find a combination where all necessary categories are sufficiently fulfilled.

A home that only has task lighting will feel cold and methodical, while a home that only has accent lighting will be good for relaxing in, but hard to work in. Planning for your lights in multiple layers can help to achieve this balance: by separating control of the lights in a space into different switches, you can customize the look and feel any time you want. This can be further achieved though use of smart lighting technology, which allows more precise control of lights in a space.

At the core of it, function and form do not have to be mutually exclusive: balance is the key to lighting up a home just the way you want it.

If you are still uncertain about which lighting option is most suitable for you, feel free to visit our gallery and have a chat with our team of lighting experts!

Our gallery features experiential rooms that are specifically created to enlighten (pun intended) customers on the various ways different types of light manifest in a physical space.   

Our gallery is located at 1093 Lower Delta Road #07-20

Operating hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays (ex PHs) between 11am to 7pm. Closed on Sundays, Mondays and PHs.


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