In the first part of our look at lighting types, we discussed some ideas for using table lamps as ambient lighting. This is a great start for any lighting scheme, and table lamps are perfect for creating an overall atmosphere, and experimenting with different locations.
However, if your ambient lighting is leaving shadows a little flat, you can add some real visual interest by adding another type of lighting. There are several options available, and table lamps can fulfill many roles, but in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at accent lighting.
What is accent lighting?
Accent lighting is used to highlight a feature or object in a room. The lamp itself doesn’t command any attention, because its purpose is to draw the eye to a specific part of the room.
The object being highlighted can be anything: a picture, a piece of furniture, an interesting architectural feature, or even just a wall. It is important that the lamp focuses on the object strongly, without highlighting too much of its surroundings.
Using a table lamp for accenting
Once again, using a table lamp is a great idea, because you can reposition them easily to highlight a feature from the best possible angle. Choosing an opaque lamp shade works best, because it concentrates the light on a smaller area, making it more dramatic.
Also pay attention to the type of light bulb used. A reflector bulb will force the light upwards, rather than letting it spill out underneath too. Using a smaller light bulb can also work great, because the smaller light source produces sharper shadows, which contrast wonderfully against the softer shadows produced by ambient lighting.
Creative use of accent light
Think about what you want to highlight in your room, and consider how light and shadow will frame it. For example, accenting a flat picture may look good, but if the picture is framed or block mounted, a table lamp underneath will cast a dramatic shadow above it.
Similarly, anything that can cast a shadow should be experimented with: place a table lamp in front of a heavily textured wall, for example, or behind a small sculpture to throw it into dramatic silhouette.
Look at any attractive metal objects: old copper kettles, attractive ornaments, and so on. Accenting these can add lots of visual impact, because they cast beautiful light effects to complement strong shadows. Just be careful that the reflections shine onto a wall or other surface, rather than into people’s eyes! Once again, because table lamps are so portable, you can experiment easily until you have the right positioning.
Although table lamps can create a wonderful atmosphere in any room, it’s also nice to use them to highlight something interesting too, whether it’s the smallest ornament, or a feature wall. The trick, as always, is to keep it simple. Highlighting every object is usually too visually confusing, but accenting a carefully chosen feature with the right table lamp will add a dramatic focal point to every room!
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