A fantastic lighting scheme always seems effortless but things are never quite what they seem…
The term layering has many forms in lighting it is used to create different effects with light in the same room, lighting can overlap with different light sources being used individually and together to get the best effect.
Layering can be used with all types of lighting but for this blog I will base it on a kitchen come family room, a multi purpose space with lots going on. Typically a family room will have the kitchen area, dining and seating area all in one space there's a TV zone, perhaps a bar or island area, cooking, eating, reading homework and relaxing, plus a bit of a party sometimes and then there's the bit of peace and quiet at the end of the day space.
With all of that going on you cannot really have one light to do it all….
So we layer, we think of each area as a zone and we consider the purpose of the zone, cleaning, cooking, reading etc, etc,
Next you think of the best way to light the space for the area and what is going on at the same time in the other zones, do lights need to be on elsewhere at the same time?
So imagine, dads cooking, the lights are on above the workspace, someone is doing homework so you need the lights on above the table perhaps and then you just fancy having a bit of space background light around the room like the wall lights or table lamps, just to keep the overall ambience welcoming in the space, can you see how things are layered? We are probably using spotlights over the work space, a pendant above the table and a wall light or table lamp dotted around, several different light sources, lots of areas covered and usually different power being consumed in each area, but we have created a scene.
If you want to go that step further for those three zones we should really have three circuits for each one to be controlled by its own switch and the ability to dim it too. Some find a multi gang switch perfect for their needs and budget. However I would suggest in these types of room it's always far more suitable to take the time and increase the budget to allow an electronic system to be installed, this will give you the ultimate control in the room, wit the ability to set multiple scenes for any use the room may have.
A party scene to create a welcome in the room with all lights adjusted to the right dimmed level, the cleaning scene when you need them all in full blast to get the place spotless, the welcome home scene with just a single low level light on for you to navigate your way in. These systems allow you to set timings, set scenes, remember patterns for holiday settings the functionality can be endless yet they are very useful.
In this day and age if I were to build my own home I would take a long time to sit down and consider how each space will be used throughout the house, I would then layer the lighting to give me a greater chance of flexibility so that as a room evolves into new spaces the lighting supply will be able to cope with any change made to the space.