Accent Lighting Solutions

Published By: Shades Of Light

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Last Updated: June 05, 2017

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Drama is created in your interiors using a play of light and shadow. Here are some techniques to use.


  1. Create “pools” of light by replacing translucent lampshades on your table and floor lamps with opaque ones. This allows lighting for tasks such as reading but also provides areas of shadow to maximize other lighting effects. It is also an effective way to spotlight a grouping of family photos on a table.
  2. Use landscape lighting techniques inside on your plants and sculpture. Study nature’s lighting (sunny days and full moon nights) to get some ideas and see the actual effects of downlighting.
  3. Silhouetting: Put a fixture with a broad beamed bulb behind a sculpture or plant. Place this light one foot from the wall pointing straight up to provide backlighting for a silhouette effect. This technique is particularly effective with bronze sculptures, bonsai, and dense plants.
  4. Shadowing: Place a plant light inside the plant just behind the trunk pointing straight up to throw leafy shadows on the ceiling or put the light 3' in front of the foliage to see shadows on the wall. This uplighting technique is most effective with sparsely foliated plants and unique branching patterns.
  5. Moonlighting: This effect is achieved using recessed lights in the ceiling with soft incandescent reflector bulbs shining down through plant leaves sprinkling shadow patterns on the floor. Incandescent lighting (regular household bulbs and PAR bulbs) brings out reds and yellows while halogen lighting (PAR bulbs) will intensify blues and purples.
  6. Grazing: This technique is used to bring out the texture of an interesting wall such as stone, silk, or flocked wallpaper. Place the light source 2-3 inches from the surface, pointing straight up. A series of floor uplights can create a “scallop” effect along the wall.
  7. Add picture lights (2/3 width of picture), mantle uplights, or recessed wall washer lights to highlight pictures and artwork on your walls. Use an illumination angle of 45º to 60º and non-reflective glass to cut down glare.
  8. Add light to bookshelves and inside cabinets to showcase your collections. Light kitchen counters with under-cabinet strip lights placed 2/3 from front of cabinet. Try our incandescent fixtures for a warm yellow light or our color-correct full-spectrum fixtures for low energy, low-heat lighting. If your light source is inside your cabinet at the top, replace solid shelves with glass. Our English bookcase light is an attractive fixture to install on the top molding of your bookshelf. Recessed lights used to illuminate bookshelves should be placed 3 feet from the wall.
  9. Add a folding stretched fabric or paper screen in a corner with a powerful spotlight behind for a diffused glow, particularly effective with a plant or sculpture behind or in front of the screen.
  10. Don’t forget the power of outdoor landscape lighting seen through the windows at night for a visual extension of your living space.
  11. Use spotlighting to create a focal point, emphasize a work of art, draw attention to a centerpiece, or accentuate exquisite architectural elements. Flexible track lighting, recessed eyeball lights or floor cans with narrow spot PAR bulbs are used to achieve these effects. Place this light source 2 feet from the wall or item you are illuminating.
  12. Try our sculpture light base under clear and colored art glass treasures to make them come alive.
  13. Colored reflector light bulbs (along the floor, in recessed ceiling fixtures, or sockets behind a ceiling valance) will wash a plain wall with color to introduce an element of magic. Place these lights one foot from the wall.

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