Light is one of the seven main elements of interior design. (To save you a search, the others are space, lines, form (or shape), pattern, colour, and texture.)

Ambient — deriving from the French word “ambience” — is a direct descendant of the Latin ambiens, which was used to convey “a going around.” It’s a versatile, multi-purpose term that conveys atmosphere, mood, character, quality, tone.

In terms of 21st century home decor, the combination term ambient lighting can (and should) be much more simply defined as general lighting. In any room, this crucial feature is one that designers typically embrace as an invigorating challenge — and that most homeowners dread the very thought of having to figure out.

Ambient lighting is the primary source and foundation of all the lighting in a specific space or room. It influences the warmth of colors and the depth of textures. From a practical standpoint, it’s important for seeing as well as for safety. It needs to play nicely with its evil (but oh so important) stepsisters — task lighting and accent lighting — resulting in more than enough possibilities to send anyone over the edge.

Nowadays, there are more options than ever before to help you achieve just the right ambient effect: track lights, pot lights, chandeliers and sconces. Wall and ceiling mounts, recessed and flush … even table and floor lamps. To keep you from losing your way (and your mind), here are a few tips:

Exploit natural lighting for all it’s worth, especially in rooms used primarily during the day.

Expose a room to take advantage of the natural light coming in from the east, west, and south. North facing rooms will need more artificial support.

Amplify incoming light with strategically placed mirrors and other surfaces/textures that will help to bounce the light around.

Augment with recessed lighting, an ideal solution for beginners thanks to cone-shaped beams that reach every corner — and leave nothing to chance.

If you’re still in the dark about ambient lighting, LFI Design is here to help. We’ve got the bright ideas and beautiful products you need to show off every deep, dark corner of your home to best advantage. Call us, email us, or drop by to discuss your needs today!