Layered Light - How much is enough?

One of the trickiest aspects of creating lighting plans can be working out how much is enough.

It comes down to being able to quantify light (which we achieve through knowing the lumen output of a fitting and the mounting height at which it will be installed) and then being able to understand the quality of the light we want for performing various tasks in the home.

Most homes in Australia are overlit.  Many people move into a home and instead of using the lighting that has been installed, they bring in floor lamps and table lamps to create mood and give them useful light without being subjected to glare and over brightness.

 A single wall light can provide all the light you need in a bathroom - positioned at the mirror where it counts.

A single wall light can provide all the light you need in a bathroom - positioned at the mirror where it counts.

When designing the lighting for your home, you need to keep in mind what colour your walls will be, what colour the floors and finally, what colours and styles of furniture you have.  White walls, ceilings and light coloured tiles will reflect light all around the home - and if you're not careful, leave you with glare (excessive contrast of light, that is, light which is too bright for your eyes to adjust to easily) and a stark home.  Of course, the flip side of that is homes with dark timber floors, heavy dark furniture and strong feature walls.  In a home with this decorative style, you need to compensate with the lighting to ensure it doesn't end up gloomy.

So - the question of the day - how much is enough?

Scientifically speaking, the following Lux levels constitute a basic structure upon which to plan your lighting: 

  • Kitchens - 160Lx - 240Lx on the benches (work surfaces)
  • Bathrooms - 80Lx
  • Living Areas - 80Lx 
  • Bedrooms - 40 - 80Lx
  • Functional Areas - 80Lx
  • Home offices - 320Lx for the work surface

So you can see, that for the majority of the home, 80Lx average light levels will give you want you need.  The key word here is AVERAGE.  This is your home - it does not have to be uniformly lit unless that is what you specifically want.  You can have bright walls for artwork and features, focussed areas of light for performing tasks, ambient light for conversation and general relaxation.

 Task Lighting using Floorlamps

Task Lighting using Floorlamps

Once you've nailed your general lighting - a few bright walls and enough light in each room for basic functions, then you can start to look at what the key features of your home are, and start adding task lighting to those spaces, reflective of how you live.  This approach to lighting in a home is commonly known as "Layered Lighting"  Essentially we create a neutral palette of light, and then add the key elements to bring the room to life.

If you would like professional advice to create a Layered Lighting solution in your new or existing home, contact Mint Lighting Design to arrange a consultation.

Adele LockeComment