The TRNK Guide to
4 layers of lighting that’ll brighten up your home in style.

The right lighting scheme can set any mood, but there’s more to it than flipping a switch or two. Whatever vibe you’re after, different occasions call for different equipment. Lighting should be thought of in layers, each with its own specific function and desired effect.

To ensure that your home is presented in the best possible light (no pun intended), we’ll walk you through the four layers of lighting, and how to best brighten up your home in style.

Ambient Lighting

This is the most functional and essential layer of lighting–the perfect place to start. Consider it your base layer that fills your space with an even glow.

Ambient light should come from all directions, not from a single source. Natural light is the most ideal, but if the sun isn’t enough, you can always supplement with your own sources. For the most even illumination, have light fixtures of varying heights–a combination of ceiling, table and floor lamps with translucent shades to diffuse the light.

 Franklin Chandelier, $550–$740

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When it comes to choosing bulbs, we recommend compact fluorescent bulbs, also known as CFLs (they’re those funny-looking, spiraled ones). They can generally be used with any lamp that takes traditional incandescents, but will last 10 times longer and are way more energy efficient (the higher price easily ends up paying for itself).

While the old fluorescent lights you remember from the dentist office create that awful, blue tint, CFLs are warmer in hue and more closely resemble natural light. They only downside: they don’t work with dimmers, so do keep that in mind.

Accent Lighting

When you want to highlight a specific object or area of the room, you’ll need a layer of accent lighting.

Unlike ambient light, you want the light to come from a single source, pointed in a specific direction. In other words, spotlighting.

LED bulbs are a great option for accent lighting–they’re long-lasting and often compatible with ceiling-mounted track lights or wall-mounted picture lights.

For a similar effect, try a halogen bulb and an opaque lampshade. This light creates a warm glow, and the opaque shade keeps the light directional– the perfect combination for illuminating a favorite object or artwork.

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Task Lighting

Task lighting is pretty self-explanatory. Whether you’re reading, cooking or tinkering with tools, certain chores call for extra luminosity.

A desk lamp is an obvious choice for office work, but we love a swinging arm lamp for style. The dramatic shape makes a great design feature, and acts as a perfect reading lamp for the living room or bedroom.

For task lighting, brightness is key. Sixty watts is generally sufficient, but if you opt for higher, be sure the lamp has a good shade–otherwise, you may start seeing stars.

 Warren Wall Lamp, $260–$350

 Original 1227 Brass Wall Mounted Lamp, $380
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Mood Lighting

Last, but not least, the mood lighting–for when you want a more sensual tone. Think dinner parties, or at-home dates, or when you need to numb out.

Mood lighting should be soft and warm–precisely the vibe created from a fireplace or candlelight. But, if a room full of candles still has you stumbling in the dark, add in a few lamps that work with a dimmer. And always go for halogen bulbs for that warm glow, and remember CFLs don’t work with dimmers.

Another option are vintage-inspired Edison bulbs–those antique-looking ones you see with the exposed filaments. Even without a dimmer, Edison bulbs have a naturally soft glow, especially if you opt for the version with a half-silver bulb.

When deciding mood lighting, pay attention to the number of Kelvins on the bulb–the lower the number, the more yellow the light. To match your candlelight, you want to target somewhere around 3000K.

 Ginger Floor Lamp, $1377

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