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Types of Lighting

Lighting comes in three varieties, which are ambient, accent and task lighting. Ambient lighting, also called general purpose lighting, adds the most amount of light to a large area. Task lighting helps you perform certain tasks like cooking, reading and applying makeup. Accent lighting provides soft, low levels of light. It’s used mostly for decoration or to showcase a certain area, such as a treasured piece of art or photograph collection on a wall. Some lights are fancy while others are industrial. An ideal lighting plan includes all three types of light for style and function.


At west elm, our chandeliers collection provides inspiration for ambient lighting. Chandeliers vary in size and style. Some feature a classic design with cascading lights. Chandeliers are sometimes tiered or stacked. Traditional chandeliers come in beautiful and elegant sweeping shapes. They typically have many branches and may extend from the ceiling. Modern chandeliers like a mobile chandelier with fewer branches and light bulbs, match the decor of spacious and contemporary rooms. For long stairways and high ceilings, elongated cylinder chandeliers look particularly stunning. Glass creates an air of elegance, while chandeliers with LED bulbs last a long time.


Alternatively, pendants are other popular options for overhead lighting. Like chandeliers, pendant lights provide light from the ceiling, which enhances the overall illumination of the room. Pendant lights, in contrast to most chandeliers, have less ornate designs. They may consist of a long stem outfitted with a decorative piece on the end, such as an orb. Some pendant lights feature glass covers over their bulbs for maximum light and a minimalist design. Pendant lights exude a comfortable level of brightness, which makes them suitable for kitchens, living rooms and other areas that call for adequate lighting.


Our floor lamps selection features task lighting. While ambient lights distribute light evenly across a large space, task lights emit a stronger, more focused and less expansive light. A single task light sufficiently lights up a small area, like a desk or kitchen cabinets. Putting multiple task lighting fixtures around a room, however, produces maximal light. Floor lamps shed light on a desk or dresser and light up otherwise dark corners. The added benefit of floor lamps is portability. A portable floor lamp is easy to move throughout the day in accordance with changes in natural sunlight.


Table lamps are also part of a lighting plan. They pair nicely with floor lamps, under-cabinet lighting and other types of task or ambient lighting. Table lamps commonly serve decorative purposes but add light to small areas of a room too. While other types of task lighting, such as floor lamps, have limited decorative options, table lamps transform to match any decor. A lampshade changes the look of a room easily. A table lamp with a unique shade color also changes the color of the room when it is turned on.


Next, sconces provide the accent and decorative lighting needs of your home’s interior. Wall-mounted lights, such as sconces, draw attention to a focal point on the wall. Decorative and accent lights add drama to the room by creating visual interest. They can draw attention to sculptures, houseplants, paintings and other prized possessions. When used outdoors, they show off the texture of stone and brick walls, an ornate garden or outdoor landscaping. For maximal effect, find decorative lighting that is three times brighter than the surrounding ambient light.


For an easy upgrade for your interior lights, check out our lighting collections. Our lighting collections feature lights in all styles, colors and designs. You’ll find sleek and linear collections that look nice in contemporary and modern homes, along with classic and ornate vintage lights that play up an older home’s charming and rustic look. Some collections have lights made of specific material, such as glass. Pairing different types of light from a collection creates a streamlined and uniform look throughout the house.

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