When you walk into a well-designed room, you are usually immediately taken in by the setup of the space using furniture, paint, and drapes in a creative way.
What you may not notice, but has a much more impactful presence, is the planning of the various lighting features and luminaires around the area to bring subtle focus to all those right areas.
This is called accent lighting.
Accent lighting is purposeful lighting that aims to bring the viewer’s attention and focus on displays of art, decor or various setups using different kinds of fixtures to accomplish that.
What Are Accent Lights Used For?
We all know how cherished our souvenirs and sentimental collections of objects can be. Or how we admire the art that we have thoughtfully chosen for our living room to share with our guests.
Or think bigger.
Upgraded homes that have design features like arched roofs and vintage windows also use accent lighting to literally accent the facade and architectural features.
Making these possessions stand out and have the required effect on those who view it, requires special lighting, made possible by specific kinds of fixtures.
This special highlighting effect of bringing attention to selected parts of the room for aesthetic reasons is accent lighting.
It can add a little extra drama and flair to your space without much effort, whether inside, in a garden or patio.
Commercial and premium retail settings use accent lighting all the time and use it well enough that customers focus on the products or displays immediately and naturally.
In this way, accent lighting is like a guiding directional cue for people to turn their attention toward.
What Types Of Lighting Are Considered As Accent Lights?
The key to achieving great accent lighting is using limited but impactful light. In this case, less is more.
On top of that, the kind of fixture you use brings different charms and functions.
A hidden or recessed fixture is a low profile. The effect is a soft glow of light, where the entire focus is on the accented features of the room, like a statement wall, or your state-of-the-art entertainment setup.
On the other hand, a more visible fixture adds additional functionality and flexibility to the accent lighting as it can be adjusted. At the same time, the fixture also serves as a focal point itself, with fantastic designer luminaires available in the market.
Let’s explore a few options:
This is a light fixture with 3-6 light heads in a line, each head being individually adjustable to direct the light. In this way, you can continually accent artwork or displays, even if you change their location or size later on.
These are small puck-shaped lights that are easy to install and contain in a small space, such as inside glass cabinets and under wooden shelves or inside purpose-built wall niches that display art, decor, or stylish storage.
These are high-intensity outdoor lights encased in weatherproof aluminum. When used as accent lighting, they are attached to stakes that can be put into the ground.
The bright lights can then be used to accent garden pathways, home facades, or patio decor.
These are the most versatile and easy to install, and thus a common favorite among lighting enthusiasts.
Strip lights have small LEDs along a thin, flexible strip that can be stuck wherever you want.
They instantly accentuate the surrounding area like your gaming corner.
Don’t forget read my definitive guide to LED strip lights.
What Is The Difference Between Accent and Task Light?
Now that you know in-depth about accent lighting, we can talk about another purpose of lighting, which is for tasks and is called task lighting.
While accent lighting is more aesthetic and serves to beautify a space, task lighting.
On the other hand, serves a vital function of providing adequate and effective light that is bright and crisp for regular tasks and jobs around the home or office.
By reading the description, you can visualize that accent lighting tends to be a warmer, yellow color temperature. In contrast, task lighting needs to be a cooler, white color.
Task lighting is used for focusing on precision and detailing tasks involving smaller or low contrast objects.
Think of sewing a needle, drawing on a sketchbook, chopping fine herbs, reading medicine bottles, or repairing something on a workbench.
All of these tasks need a light that will not add shadow and contrast and effectively illuminate the task. This is where the table or floor lamps, ceiling fixtures, strip lights, and other bright, low contrast lighting comes into play.
But what if I tell you that you can combine the functions of two lights into one fixture, with careful thought and planning of your space.
You can have a single light source that can both accent and provide task lighting in one, for a few specific applications.
LED light bulbs have many light qualities that allow you to customize the purposes it can serve. The color temperature, color rendering index, and lumens all can be selected to be multi-purposed.
Think about the under-cabinet lighting that is now commonly used in kitchens. The bright, high CRI light can provide enough luminance to light up the countertop for cooking and cutting.
At the same time, a warm yellow glow of this light will simultaneously serve as an accent light to highlight marble tops or an attractive backsplash.
Another example is around an arts and crafts space. Track lighting heads can be directed to both the desktop and to surrounding artwork to provide both task and accent lighting in one solution.
Finally, spotlights are an everyday favorite as they look great for lighting up foyers and accentuating entrance decoration or wall features.
Also providing bright luminance for the task of gearing and dressing up to head out.
But accent and task lighting cannot always be combined. Some areas that need to be accented and highlighted will not be in the same area as the task.
For example, a degree frame on your personal library wall will require a picture frame accent light.
In contrast, your desk reading will require a specific table lamp closer to you.
Be creative, and you can always come up with your own personal solutions. As long as you put some thought and research into it, it is hard to go wrong with lighting but can have incredible effect without investing too much time and money.
Further reading: Is LED Light Good For Reading?
Try going around your space and making a diagram of things you need accenting and tasks you need lit.
Start with accent lighting and see if it can be combined with a task nearby. Then add specific task lights that are more directed at specific areas to serve you.
Do you have prized artwork and collections that you would like to display with thought?
Do you find yourself seeking out more light when you sit down to read or start working on a project?