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Randall Whitehead

Professional Lighting Expert

Best Accent Lighting & Best Track Lighting

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When designing the lighting for your home, you should start by learning the “language of light.” Don’t be intimidated. There are only four words to learn: decorative, task, accent, and ambient. All electric lighting falls into these four categories. Once you have these terms down then working out the lighting for any of the rooms in your house becomes much less overwhelming. There is no one light fixture that can give you everything you need to illuminate a room properly. The trick is using a variety of light sources to create a flexible, inviting space. This is what is referred to as “light layering.” These categories are also referred to as the four functions of light. Here is a list of what they are and what it is that they do:

These are what I like to call “architectural jewelry.” Their only purpose is to look pretty. They add sparkle to a space. Chandeliers, exterior lanterns and candlestick-type wall sconces fall into this category. They should not be used as the work horses for lighting a space. When they are too bright they can visually overpower the other elements of the design. Subtle is the way to go when thinking about decorative lighting.

Lighting by which you do work, such as the under cabinet lighting in the kitchen, reading lamp next to a chair, lighting in your closet, and lighting at the bathroom mirror for applying makeup or shaving.

Lighting used to highlight objects in a space. This adds depth and dimension to an environment. Recessed adjustable fixtures, track lights, portable uplights, and directional landscape lights all fall into this category.

This is the gentle fill light for a room. It softens shadows on people’s faces and fills the volume of the space with a warm glow, as if the room was being filled with the light of a roaring fire. Ambient light comes from illumination that is bounced off the ceiling. Such sources as opaque wall sconces, torcheres, pendant hung indirect fixtures, and cove lighting can be used to create the ambient light.

The Bottom Line
By layering these four functions of light together you can create an environment that welcomes visitors into the space, while providing usable light for day-to-day activities. Getting a feel for these terminologies will get you on the right path to understanding how light can work for you.

Accent Light
Accent light is directed illumination that highlights objects within an environment. Lighting devices such as track lighting and recessed adjustable fixtures are used to bring attention to art, sculpture, tabletops, and plants. Just like any of the other three functions of light, accent light should not be the only source of illumination in a room.

If you use only accent light, you get the “museum effect,” where the art visually takes over the room while guests fall into darkness. Subconsciously, people will feel that the art is more important than they are. Of course, some people do feel that the art they own is more important than their guests.

How many times have you had to sit down and rest or search for an espresso after going through three rooms in a museum? People can get really exhausted when looking at illuminated art next to non-illuminated walls. Even museums nowadays are adding additional illumination beyond accent light to help reduce eye fatigue, thus cutting the contrast in the overall environment. They too are learning the advantages of light layering to counteract the energy draining museum effect.

Effective accent lighting thrives on subtlety. A focused beam of light directed at an orchid or highlighting an abstract painting above an ornate chest of drawers, can create a wondrous effect. If done well, people won’t notice the light itself. They will see only the object being illuminated. The most successful lighting effect achieves its magic through its very invisibility. If you see the light source, then there is no magic.

In the movies, if we can tell how a special effect has been achieved, we feel cheated. We don’t want to know how it’s done, because we want to think it’s supernatural. In lighting design, it should be no less the case. We want to see the effects of light, but the method needs to remain unseen. This subtlety is what will create a cohesive wholeness, allowing the design, the architecture, the furnishings, and the landscaping to become the focus of a space, not the luminaires or the lamps glaring out from within them.

These are choices that I find great for accent lighting; you’ll find that most of them are energy efficient choices – because beauty can also be wise.

With the best accent lighting, put a spotlight on your favorite art and home accents. These best track lighting recommendations also fit in with your decor so they shine the light on your favorites without getting noticed.

Best Accent Lighting by Randall Whitehead

The Best You Can Get

  • Lucifer Lighting - ZF Series

    Randall says: Lucifer Lighting has released a recessed low voltage fixture that has a square trim and a square aperture. This very smart shape is a crisp departure from the round recessed fixtures that have been on the market for decades. It can rotate 358 degrees horizontally and has vertical adjustment from 35-45 degrees, depending on the style selected. It is available for both insulated and non-insulated ceilings.

    • Low voltage halogen – 20-watt MR16 halogen to 50-watt halogen MR16 bulbs
    • Square shape
  • Fine Art Lighting - Picture Lights – Masterpiece 4 Lamp MS4L30

    Randall says: When you are looking for a picture light, this company makes the finest on the market. They can be ordered in standard and custom lengths, as well as a variety of finishes. All the fixtures are fitted with special filters to eliminate UV light and heat that can harm sensitive art.

    • Dimmable
    • Low voltage halogen – 20-watt MR16 halogen to 50-watt halogen MR16 bulbs
    • Many sizes and finishes to choose from
  • Pure Lighting - Aurora RGB

    Randall says: This recessed accent light has a hidden surprise. It also projects an intriguing glow of LED light that changes the color of the ambient light in a room.

    • 50-watt MR16 halogen bulb and four 2.5-watt LEDs
    • Alter your mood through color
  • Tech Lighting - 2-Circuit MonoRail System

    Randall says: Tech Lighting offers a low profile bendable two-circuit monorail system that is a striking departure from traditional track systems. It can accommodate both accent lights as well as hanging decorative pendants. It is available in a variety of finishes.

    • Low voltage halogen bulbs – differs upon pendant or head choice
    • Chrome, Gold, Satin Nickel, Antique Bronze finishes to choose from
  • Phantom Lighting - AC Series

    Randall says: Phantom Lighting is a very inventive shelf lighting company that knows how to keep a light source hidden while providing accent light for shelves. The AC series is perfect for people with adjustable shelves.

    • 1.7-watt LEDs or 3 10-watt incandescent festoon bulbs

You will be happy with any of these

  • Dreamscape - 5000 Series Linear LED Lighting

    Randall says: Those people who want to embrace newer technology should be very pleased with the LED linear lighting from Dreamscape Lighting. While it is not a source of powerful accent light, it does a great job illuminating architectural details such as shelving, coffers, coves, and beams. It is available in three different color temperatures (2700K, 3100K, and 6500K) and can be made for both dry and wet locations. It is also dimmable.

    • Long-life LED light strip
    • Dimmable
  • Artimede - Mikado Spot Light

    Randall says: For situations where a surface mounted accent light is needed, the Mikado by Artimede fits the bill quite well. It is available in ceiling and wall mount versions, as well as multi-headed, pendant and track versions. These work particularly well in structures where recessed fixtures are not an option. This fixture can also use an LED MR16 bulb as well.

    • 50-watt MR16 halogen bulbs
  • Nulco Lighting - Technos Ceiling Spot

    Randall says: This flexible accent light has a bit of a “Star Wars” feel to it. Long articulated arms offer an unlimited variety positions in which to illuminate objects from one location.

    • 50-watt MR20 halogen bulbs
    • Satin, Nickel, and Chrome finishes available
  • Bruck Lighting Systems - Zap

    Randall says: This single headed fixture offers the ultimate in flexibility. It can be adapted to any track system or can be ceiling mounted using an appropriate adapter over a junction box.

    • 20-watt MR11 halogen bulb
  • Eurofase Lighting - TE-112 Multi-headed Recessed Fixture

    Randall says: For those people who want their recessed fixtures to make a bit of a statement, then Eurofase’s TE-112 series is right for them. These square and rectangular troughs can accommodate one to three 50-watt low voltage bulbs, which have individual adjustability. This fixture can also use LED MR16 bulbs as well.

    • 50-watt MR16 halogen bulb

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Decorate with the best accent lighting that focuses everyone's attention on your favorite art and other decor. This best track lighting also blends with the rest of your home so the focus always remains on your choice of art. With our best light fixtures recommendations, you'll always offer a special way of highlighting the best in your home, always at the best price.