Ambient or Task lighting: Making the choice

Task or Ambient

The benefits of ambient and task lighting, and what lighting is best for you

Lighting choices for your home can make an enormous difference to the look, feel and functionality of your space. Different lighting options serve different needs, and the right combinations of ambient and task lighting in balance can optimise their effects. To understand how they work together, we first have to explore what they are and what each of them contributes to a room.

What is ambient lighting?

Ambient lighting is generally defined as being the light that is naturally present in any given setting that gently illuminates a whole room or space, such as daylight outdoors or inside the home, before any extra lighting is added. Inside the home there will be lighting options to create artificial ambient lighting at your convenience.

What is Task Lighting?

Task lighting is used for just that – tasks! It is a directed style of lighting, used to brighten and focus a specific area where a task is being performed. Often task lighting is overlooked as less important because the amount of ambient lighting in the room might seem sufficient, but when closely focussing on something like reading a book, painting, shaving or decorating a cake – ambient lighting is not enough to prevent eye strain and fatigue. For anyone who has vision impairments or engages in high-focus tasks regularly, task lighting is an essential feature to include in any lighting plan.

Ambient and task lighting in the home

Ambient lighting in the home can come in a few forms. The ceiling lights, well placed lamps and if you’re feeling fancy – chandeliers – in your home will provide this type of lighting. Additionally, choosing the most appropriate brightness and warmth of the ambient light for each room is important for creating the desired feel and functionality in each one.

Task lighting also has many varied forms to choose from, and is generally going to be placed in areas where tasks are performed directly. This is to maximise the safety and effectiveness of the task being performed. 

Ambient & task lighting in the living room

Living room lighting

The living room is a particularly important room to get the correct lighting in, because as the name suggests – it’s where much of your ‘living’ gets done! Opting for a ceiling mounted light or flush mount lighting to supply the majority of ambient light in the living room is the best choice. Pendant lights can also be a great choice for ambient lighting whilst also making a stylish statement. They allow the lighting to diffuse evenly, making it ideal for all the different activities that can take place in a living room – from catching up on some TV to playing a board game with the family.

Utilising task lighting in this space could be placing floor lamps, table lamps or down lighting in strategic locations within the living room to allow you to customise your lighting level needs, depending on the activity taking place. If you regularly read in one location in the living room, placing extra task lighting there is a great idea. An added element of functionality could be using a dimmer switch to control the level or ambient brightness – great for movie watching!

Ambient & task lighting in the kitchen

Kitchen Lighting

The type of ambient lighting chosen for a kitchen is usually going to be fairly bright in tone when compared to those found in living and bedroom spaces. This is mainly due to the task-like nature of the kitchen space – a room where high lighting is essential to whipping up and monitoring the progress of a great meal, as well as being able to clean up after it efficiently.

While ceiling mounted lights or flush mount lighting will often be the most common choice for supplying this light, other options include track lighting which provides ambient lighting that can also be somewhat targeted.

The most common task lighting used in the kitchen is under cabinet lighting  to better illuminate the bench tops while you work, and if you have a breakfast bar or island bench then island pendant lights might be a great option for brightening that space.

Ambient & task lighting in the bathroom

Bathroom Lighting

The type of lighting chosen for the bathroom is similar in nature to the kitchen, in that it is often a very task-oriented space. However, bathrooms are very personal spaces and their use greatly differs depending on the inclinations of the owners. Whilst some may use their bathroom as a space to spend time relaxing and unwinding in, others will use it only as a means to getting the necessary things done.

The make-up of these factors will affect the balance of ambient and task lighting chosen and the styles they come in, but luckily there are many ways to customise lighting in this space.

Bright lighting is usually chosen for bathrooms to better aid in the various tasks performed there, but the use of either a dimmer switch combined with down lights or a subtly placed floor lamp could provide a lower, warmer level of ambient light for when the user is using the space to relax.

Examples of task lighting in a bathroom could be things such as heat lamps or vanity and mirror lighting to aid in personal grooming and make up application.

Ambient & task lighting in the bedroom

Bedroom Lighting

The bedroom is usually the room with the lowest level of ambient lighting overall. This is to promote the natural sleep cycle your body works on. With the rise of smart devices and televisions in the bedroom, many people are finding their sleep is starting to become affected. For this reason it is especially important that you choose the lighting that promotes good sleep patterns.

Lower ambient light options include any ceiling mounted lights such as flush, oyster or pendant – as long as the light they provide is warm and more muted. The use of bedside, touch and desk lamps are great task lighting options for reading in bed to prevent undue eye strain. A more in depth look at bedroom lighting can be read about here.

How do ambient and task lighting work together?

For truly balanced and functional lighting in a room, both ambient and task lighting will be needed. Ultimately we all want to have positive experiences within the spaces of our home, and lighting that contributes to our relaxation levels or ability to perform tasks well is naturally going to be exactly where we want to be living.

Here at Rovert Lighting we understand that decisions in this area can be an overwhelming experience, but we are here to help. We can supply all your ambient or task lighting needs and our friendly, knowledgeable staff will always be happy to answer questions and guide you through the best options for your home – so please don’t hesitate to make an enquiry!