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How Do I Choose the Best Accent Lighting?

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  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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In order to choose the best accent lighting, you must plan your lighting design, decide on an aesthetic theme, and determine your budget. Accent lights come in a variety of designs and styles, from table-top to pendant, modern to traditional. They are available at large home improvement stores and lighting boutiques as well as online and catalog retailers.

Before you start shopping, make a design plan for the space itself. Accent lighting is either functional or decorative. It can draw attention to another object by illuminating it or become a decorative accent itself because of its bold style or color. Therefore, you need to understand what your space needs before purchasing accent lighting.

First, determine the specific areas in the room which need accent lighting. There may be an area which is plain or doesn't match the aesthetic of the rest of the room. A decorative accent light can give this space definition. Alternatively, paintings, collectibles, or architectural features within a room can be displayed through functional accent lights. Either type of light may be free standing, wall mounted, ceiling mounted, or pendant.

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When you have decided on what types of accenting lighting you need, consider the overall style of the room. Decorative accent lights can be bold, either in color or design, creating a finished look to subtly decorated areas. Choose an accent light which is in the same style family as the rest of the room. If the room has an eclectic feel, choose any style light you like, but make sure that the color or finish complements the theme of the room.

Functional accent lighting should not be decorative. Since its purpose is to draw attention to another object or area, functional accent lights should have a simple design that blends into the surroundings. Cabinet accent lighting can be hidden altogether, with only the glow of the light visible.

Accent lighting can be relatively inexpensive or extremely pricey depending on what you buy and its brand name. Decide on your budget and stick to that figure. If your budget is particularly small, try classified advertisements online and in your area to find secondhand lighting in good condition. Thrift stores, antique stores, and secondhand shops may also have lighting at discounted prices.

The best way to shop for lighting is in person. Many lighting and home improvement stores will have fully functioning lighting displays so you can see exactly how a fixture looks in operation. If you shop in secondhand stores, you may have to carry a bulb with you so that you can test the lighting fixtures. Although this is inconvenient, it is important to ensure that the light works since many secondhand stores do not accept returns.

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