Ambient, Task, and accent lighting

Did you know that lighting can affect your mood? Studies have shown that lighting is not solely a visual component. It also has biological and psychological effects that can impact our well-being. With that said, let’s discuss the basics.

Ambient, task, and accent lighting are terms you should know. Why? Simply put, you should have all of these types of lighting in every room. Utilizing ambient, task and accent lighting in a room is essential aesthetically and can also make you feel happier.

The ceiling fixtures along with the recessed lighting are the rooms ambient lighting source
Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the general all-over lighting of a room. It may be a ceiling fixture in the center of the room or recessed lights in the ceiling. I often choose to use a central fixture for aesthetic appeal in addition to recessed lighting that will provide balanced all-over light.

The pendant lights provide task lighting
Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash

Task Lighting

Task Lighting is lighting that is intended to provide light for a specific function. A good example is pendant lights used to illuminate the cooking prep area. It may be a table lamp, giving light to read by.

The floor lamp provides task lighting
Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

Accent Lighting

Accent Lighting is used to highlight an object or feature of a room. A light shining on a painting or highlighting a texture on a wall is an example of accent lighting. It is always a good design idea to use accent lighting to accentuate the best architectural features of a room.

The cabinet lighting is an example of accent lighting.

When developing a lighting plan, ask yourself the following questions:

1-What is my ambient lighting source? Is it balanced?

2-What areas of this room do I need additional lighting for specific functions?

3-What are the best features of this room that I could highlight with accent lighting? Are there any objects that I need to highlight with accent lighting?


Good lighting is so important in design! A well-lit room has layers of lighting combining ambient, task, and accent lighting when used together can create a spectacular feel-good room! I hope you had a chance to read my other two posts on Lighting, Let’s talk about lighting and How to know what size chandelier to buy. If you want to learn more about the psychological impact of light, follow this link to a great resource.

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Published by

Barbara Rose

Hi I am Barbara Rose. I am an Interior Designer and I started design2bhappy to inspire others to think of Interior Design as more than just creating a beautiful home. It is about living comfortably, while being surrounded by things you love. It is about creating an environment that we feel good in while providing a sanctuary to counter- balance the stress that life can throw at us. This blog is aimed at helping others achieve that "there is no place like home" feeling.

3 thoughts on “Ambient, Task, and accent lighting

  1. […] Did you get to read my last few posts on lighting? My first lighting post, “Let’s talk about lighting,” discussed the importance of good lighting as a design element. My second post discussed “How to know what size chandelier to buy.” Last week we discussed layering lights in a room by using a combination of “Ambient, Accent and Task” lighting.” […]

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