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Setting the Mood: A Guide to Accent & Architectural Lighting

The discipline of architectural lighting can be traced back to the Middle Ages and beyond. Builders of churches and cathedrals made use of the sun’s rays to achieve spectacular illumination in houses of worship, and stained glass windows created stunning effects. Of course, the builders of the dark ages didn’t refer to their instinctive skills as architectural lighting. This term only became meaningful in the late 1960’s, when the formation of the International Association of Lighting Designers emphasized the importance of illumination in an architectural context. Since then, builders have learned that the illumination of a space – be it indoors or outdoors – can have a profound effect on mood, ambience, and the performance of task.

Home accent lighting is now a popular way to add a touch of warmth and beauty to any room. At first, this technology was impractical and expensive to maintain, but today’s LED options are more energy efficient and compact. While they are primarily used for decorative purposes, they can also provide some modest functionality. For instance, their extremely low energy expenditure means they can be kept on around the clock, even at night. This improves safety and security in the house while also providing some needed illumination for people who stay up late.


Home lighting ideas vary greatly and can help add a specific style to a room, whether warm and rustic, or cool and modern. Fixtures that focus on art displays, clean lines, or compliment the colors of the room will provide a professional finish. There are three main types of fixtures that are needed in a house, and these include architectural, task, and accent lighting. These types of fixtures focus on specific aspects of a room and help improve the quality of the room’s design.

A good lighting design includes elements of all three types of lighting –

  1. Architectural – Architectural lighting refers to the primary sources of functional lighting in a room, which include recessed ceiling lighting and ceiling-mounted track lighting systems. Other sources of general or architectural lighting are chandeliers, wall sconces, and large pendant lights. These primary light sources are usually the brightest in the room, as they are intended to simulate sunlight.
  2. Task – Task lighting most commonly refers to under-cabinet strip lighting that assists in performing countertop tasks, such as food preparation and cooking, or desktop tasks, like homework. These are secondary light sources that can either be turned on only when needed or left on to enhance the overall lighting design of a room.
  3. Accent – Accent lighting comes from fixtures that are meant to highlight something, such as a piece of art over the fireplace, or from a fixture that contributes more to the design scheme than it does to the ambient lighting. This includes both floor and table lamps, decorative and artistic fixtures, spot lights and projectors, and smaller pendant lights. Accent lighting also includes cove lighting, which is traditionally installed along the molding of a ceiling, but can also look great beneath the toe-kicks of cabinetry and along the rise of the steps in a staircase.

When all three types of lighting are installed to work cohesively, a room’s design is undoubtedly elevated. To achieve the best overall design, all of the light sources should be in a similar color temperature and at a variety of output levels.


There are two major factors to take into consideration when setting the mood lighting of a room: temperature and brightness.

The color temperature of light evokes different feelings within visitors to a room – the warmer the light, the more cozy and relaxing the room becomes, while a cooler light inspires energy and productivity. Both the Elite and Ultra cabinet lighting systems are designed to emit soft illumination that is ideal for aesthetic purposes, and both can be configured to produce nearly any color and spread pattern a homeowner may need. People are accustomed to the warm, cozy hues of incandescent fixtures, but LEDs can also provide warm illumination, and do it with much more efficiency and reliability. In commercial settings, a business may want the sophisticated and clean feeling that comes with neutral white fixtures, and LED strips can also be configured in this way.

Brightness is the other factor involved when setting the mood in a room. Dimmer controls allow a user to raise or lower the output level of the system with little effort. If a homeowner wants to enhance a comfortable, cozy feeling, they can drop the system’s output level. Conversely, if a company wants to deliver a strong impression, it can pump up the illumination output. All of Phantom’s products come with the option of dimmer controls so that the mood of your space can change with your own.


Phantom Lighting specializes in all types of lighting – our products add mood and ambiance to a space, enhancing your investments in fine art, furniture, and woodworking.

Our LED optical framing projectors are the best on the market for precisely illuminating paintings, sculptures, and other works of art. Our adjustable cabinet lighting systems, available in a variety of mounting methods to suit any application, add unparalleled dimension to your cabinetry and the items you’ve chosen to display within them. However, we also have several options for under-cabinet LED task lighting systems that contribute greatly to the functionality of your countertops.

Our cove lighting systems, though not considered a primary source of lighting, are a fantastic option for enhancing the architectural features of a home or business. Their unique design allows for a variety of applications – not only do they look great along a cove in the ceiling, they can also be used on top of or below cabinetry or placed vertically to accent concave features within the walls. When installed correctly, cove lighting adds unique dimension to the structure of your building.


Illumination, like no other design element, is something that people are drawn to, and with measured use of it, a home or business owner can evoke any feeling they want in a space. Let the professional lighting designers at Phantom help craft the perfect mood lighting for your home, office, or business by calling toll-free at 800-863-1184 or requesting a quote using our online form. Or if you prefer, sign up for our monthly newsletter and we will keep you up-to-date on new product launches, resources, and more.