Accent Lighting - As its name suggests, accent lighting is used to accent (or highlight) features of interest and should be brighter than any ambient illumination. In a lot of spaces, it is used to add drama to a room, which, in turn, adds a sense of increased appeal. Wall lights used as accent lighting are commonly fitted with dark or opaque shades, as this forces the light to spread out from above and below the fixture, creating an attractive hourglass shape and dramatic shadows. Wall lights are commonly used to draw the eye to artworks, plants and even architectural elements.
The beauty about wall lighting in general is that most are designed as directional lights, which basically means they're either upward facing, downward facing, or diagonal lights. Wall sconces are generally designed as such. But if it's reading lights or adjustable lighting that you're looking for, then perhaps you should consider investing in wall lamps. Wall lamps function the same way a wall sconce does, except most are designed to be adjustable, either extending out and away from the wall or alongside it. Usually designed to work as reading lamps, wall lamps are situated lower on the wall unlike its wall sconce counterpart. Of course, you could easily utilize a wall lamp in place of a wall sconce in hallways and dining rooms.
In most rooms it is advisable to use multiple light sources in order to create the right feel. Interior designers often refer to these multiple sources as layers of light. These start with general ambient lighting, with task lighting and/or accent lighting adding additional layers. Let's explain this in more detail. Ambient lighting is the general illumination of the space. Natural sunlight provides good ambient lighting during the day, but ceiling or wall lights are usually used for ambient lighting when the sunlight has faded.
Task lighting is brighter lights positioned in areas where specific tasks will be undertaken that require clear vision. This could be in the form of a reading lamp, or spotlighting above kitchen worktops. Also providing additional light to a specific area is accent lighting. These are lights that highlight a particular feature in the room, such as a painting on the wall and making it a focal point. Accent lighting can help to distract the eye away from less desirable areas in the space too!
Ambient Lighting - For those not a 100% sure on what this type of lighting actually involves, it simply provides an area or room with general illumination. In terms of wall lights for an ambient effect, if the room has high ceilings you can install sconces high up on the wall. Regardless of whether you utilize wall sconces or ceiling ones, good ambient illumination should not be harsh but should still flood the room with enough brightness that you are able to see and move around.
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