Home Design Tips Design Tips Accent Lighting
Accent Lighting

Accent Lighting
Accent Lighting creates high contrast between space and objects of interest such as sculpture, collectibles, and architectural details. For noticeable visual impact, accent lighting should be at least three times as bright as a surrounding area. More dramatic accent lighting requires contrast ratios of 5:1 or greater.

  • Accent Lighting on flat artwork
    Flat art is usually illuminated by a source striking its surface at a 30-degree angle. This eliminates veiling reflection (glare) from bouncing into a viewer's eye, and prevents the casting of a shadow of the viewer onto the artwork.


  • Accent Lighting of three-dimensional objects
    "Key and Fill" is an effective technique for accentuating the three-dimensional character of an object. This technique entails the use of key and fill lighting from two sides of the object. Key lighting is a hard-accent light used to create shadows and to highlight an object's form and texture. Fill light is a softer light thrown from the opposite side of the object to soften the shadows, making the object appear more natural. Other techniques can also be applied to further accentuate the unique character of an object, such as silhouetting.





Wall Lighting
The illumination of vertical surfaces can impact the perception of a space more than any other type of lighting. Light reflecting off of walls creates a bright, spacious feel and adds visual interest.

  • Wall Washing
    Wall washing provides an even spread of illumination for vertical surfaces such as walls, large paintings, wall hangings, bookcases and shelving, cabinet fronts, or stairwells. The diffuse nature of wall-wash illumination has the effect of flattening out textured surfaces.


Wall-wash luminaries are usually spaced equal to the set back distance from the wall. Closer spacing will provide higher light levels, with better uniformity.

  • Grazing
    By placing down-lights 6 to 12 inches from a wall, a grazing effect can be achieved on textured surfaces such as brick or stucco. PAR lamps are a good source to use for grazing.





Light Scallops
Light scallops can be an intentional or unintentional effect of a down-lighting plan. The last row of down-lights closest to the wall will cause light scallops, which if planned for can add visual interest to a space. The more diffuse the light source and trim are, the softer the scallop will be. For example a R/BR-lamp mounted in a flush-to-ceiling open trim, will barely create any scallop, while a R-lamp in a shallow white baffle will create a soft scallop, and a PAR lamp in a deep-black baffle trim will create a crisp scallop. You should be mindful of the horizontal location of the center of the scallops relative to architectural features such as cabinet frames, doorways, windows, etc.