The lighting layers approach is a method used for layering lighting systems to help create composition and a particular aesthetic in a space. This approach is a lighting design that will provide a variety of light sources to accommodate your space and visually aid everyday tasks. Its also a great approach to help add shadows and accents that will create a nice ambiance in your space. Here is the approach in detail layer by layer so you may have a better understanding. Try combining layers of light to accommodate more than just one function. Choose lighting fixtures that are multifunctional and that can be applied to more than one layer use.
Ambient/Overall Layer: The ambient layer is to provide an overall lighting source that will help aid traffic and other basic visual tasks throughout the home. Remember that if the ambient light level in the space is lower than the task levels, the contrast will create a dramatic affect in the space. If the ambient light levels are as high as task level lighting then the space will be brighter. Even though each layer has a unique responsibility in a lighting design it is important to try to incorporate layers that can be multifunctional and complimentary with each other.
Task Layer: The task layer is meant to illuminate specific areas or surfaces at which the task is taking place on or at. Energy Saving: If you use more task lighting instead of ambient lighting in a residential setting it will help waste less energy. Try placing task luminaries so that it only illuminates specific areas at where the task is taken place. For example: your favorite couch or seat in the living room where you might read should be illuminated with a portable lamp. If your portable lamp is placed behind you while you are seating it's a good idea to have the bottom of the shade at 47 inches from the finish floor to help provide adequate lighting. If your lamp is next to you on the right or left side, the bottom of the shade should be approx. 40-42 inches from the finish floor.
Focal Layer: The focal layer is an aesthetic type of lighting source that helps stylize and enhance features in a specific area and/or display. Focal lighting types tend to be adjustable light fixtures so that its easier to utilize in a variety of ways when needed. Examples of areas that probably need focal lighting are pieces of artwork, displays, and architectural features.
Decorative Layer: The decorative layer provides some illumination and is usually ornamental, but its purpose is to help make a statement or add to a themed space. The decorative layer will need additional layering like ambient or task to help provide more efficient illumination in a space. For example a crystal chandelier might make a great statement in a dinning room, but keep in mind it might not be able to provide enough illumination for that entire space. So for example it might be necessary to have additional fixtures like recessed down lights to help provide more light sources over task areas.
Decorative Types: Chandeliers, lanterns,Pendants, Wall Sconces, Wall Torchieres , Lamps. Remember, too many styles and lighting fixtures can look busy. You don't want to create over illumination and you don't want to have your space visually uncomfortable. The solution is to be able to choose lighting fixtures that not only serve two or more functions in that space, but can be utilized in other lighting layers and will help the flow of your home's décor. Pendants and wall sconces are great additions to start with for your lighting design.