Oscar de la Renta may have said it best: "The most important thing? Perfect lighting at all times." During the long, dark days of winter, those words couldn't ring truer.
But with the glimmer of holiday decor packed away and those extra hours of sunshine still several weeks off, perfect lighting can be elusive, and a single statement fixture simply won't suffice.
Michael Murphy, an interior designer and Trends Producer for says it's all about striking the right balance between these three must-have types of lighting — ambient, task, and accent.
Think: chandeliers, recessed lighting, or sconces. "Ambient lighting provides even, overall illumination to a room," Murphy explains.
Using dimmers with ambient lighting gives you control over light levels, he notes. "A dinner with family and friends can be a little brighter and happier, but with a dimmer you can easily convert the same space into a romantic, more dimly lit dinner table for a romantic evening."
Pro Tip: When wiring your rooms, include multiple circuits. This will allow you to dim some lights while keeping others brighter, a perfect solution for multi-tasking families and those who want to create the perfect ambience in a snap.
This lighting is particularly important when performing specific tasks like cooking, doing homework, or getting ready in the bathroom.
In the kitchen, use pendant and under-cabinet lighting to illuminate food prep areas. Stylish table lamps and floor lamps provide perfect task lighting in living areas and bedrooms.
Task lighting for a bathroom can be accomplished by using sconces and bath bars. For a contemporary look, Murphy suggests adding a pendant light. "It's becoming increasingly popular in bathrooms," he says.
Pro Tip: Even illumination is essential when planning your bathroom lighting plan. One way to do this is simply by making sure the same amount of light comes from the sides of the room as the top of the room. Even lighting will help prevent shadows and create the perfect bathroom lighting for applying make-up or shaving.
Murphy recommends using accent lighting to showcase specific objects like art, sculptures, and bookcases. "It can also be used to highlight a textured wall, or other architectural features," he says.
Classic track lighting and picture lights are the most common types of accent lighting you'll find, but candles also fall into this category. "This low light tends to create a terrific atmosphere," but make sure they're unscented, particularly when used to illuminate dining areas.
Pro Tip: For spaces that are perfect for wall art, but missing an outlet, use a battery-operated picture light with a remote control.
Check out more secrets to a well-lit room here.