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  • Writer's pictureKatie

Layers of Light Visualized

Utilizing layers of light adds character and creates depth to your design. Understanding what each layer is - Ambient, Task, and Accent - along with how to program them with a control system fosters emotion from the end-user, and allows users have preset options for varied space activities. Think: breakfast/coffee, lunch, happy hour, small 1-on-1 conversation or overall room illumination.

Layers of light along with lumen output, color temperature, and distribution will elevate your design into a space your client will love to function in.


Glare-free general illumination for the space - these light fixtures are medium to wider beam spreads (distribution) and overall lumen output. The higher the ceiling, the higher lumen output will be needed for the space.

Examples of this: linear pendant lighting that lights the overall space, 2x2/2x4 troffers, downlights, natural light, etc.

Design by Rapt Studio, LA


Focused, small-degree pointed illumination and higher intensity for specific activities - appropriate color temperature and high color rendering index becomes crucial! The Ambient and Task layer builds out your room and fully forms it for it's intended use.

Examples of this: countertops in kitchens (undercabinet lighting), pendants over islands, additional desk lighting, etc.

Design by Rapt Studio, LA


Used to emphasize architectural details or highlight wall décor - this compliments the existing layers and adds character to the space.

Examples of this: wall sconces for wayfinding or highlighting artwork, cove lighting for architectural details, or downlights lighting a specific nook, etc.

Design by Rapt Studio, LA


It's important to note that depending on lumen output, intensity, beam spreads, and color temperature, varying fixtures can realistically fit into multiple categories. Understanding how to build out the layers of light and program your control system (for another day!) can transform your design.

In need of assistance with your lighting project?

Architect or Designer with lighting Q's regarding your current reflected ceiling plan lighting layout?

Stay lit friends,

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