Lighting your home for maximum effect

How you light up your home can have a dramatic affect on how your home looks and feels. A dimly lit room can feel romantic, cozy, scary, or cold. A brightly lit room can feel warm and inviting or harsh and annoying. The right combination of lighting can showcase your style and make your home really inviting.

Beyond style, our bodies are made to respond to light. When we put our children to bed at night, we turn down the lights and talk quietly. But if we have to get to work early or make a long journey, we turn on all the lights and put on some energetic music.

According the American Lighting Association, there are three types of lighting:

  • Ambient lighting is your basic overhead lighting that generally lights up your room and lets you navigate through your furniture. Most homes have an abundance of ambient lighting. It’s an everyday workhorse.
  • Task lighting lets you read a book, cook in your kitchen, or put on your make-up. it helps you see and focus better.
  • Accent lighting makes things stand out. Placed in the right spots, you can showcase art on your walls, highlight art objects, or create drama.

When choosing lighting it’s important to think about what you are trying to create. Like a painter emphasizing the important features of the artwork. Start by asking yourself what you want to create and keep in mind what lighting problems you are trying to solve.

Cozy and Intimate

Cozy, intimate spaces are made with soft light. Usually from lamps or indirect lighting placed behind moldings or underneath counters. Stand in the middle of your cozy space and decide what items you want to emphasize or de-emphasize.

What items in the room are special and say the most about your personality, emphasize them with a little accent light. A spotlight on your favorite painting or that collection of depression era glass can showcase your interests and set the mood for family and guests.

Place a small lamp with low wattage in that dark corner that no one ever sits in but brings down the rest of the room by looking dark andgloomy. Immediately you have a glow that feels happier but not over stimulating.

Productive and Warm

Lighting your home for specific tasks doesn’t mean it has to look all business. A home office with turned down ambient lighting and a bright task like on the table surface makes a comfortable statement.

Task lighting by itself can be very harsh. If you turn on a bright light in a dark room it will immediately remind you of that part in all film noir movies where they walk into the PI’s office and turn on only the desk light. You’d expect an armed felon to jump out of the shadows of your home office.

The same could be said for a kitchen. At times you need to have bright light overhead for cutting vegetables and making the perfect omelet, but once the cooking is done, imagine how nice it is to turn down the overhead lighting and sit under hanging pendant lights with soft warm light in the background to eat your food.

Bright and Stimulating

Family rooms and game rooms usually need a lot of light. When you want to stimulate activity and excitement, brighter is better. Light bulbs come in different colors of white. If you haven’t experienced this yet, get down to your local big box store and put your hand under each of the different light bulb’s glow.

It’s not just about turning up the ambient lighting to it’s highest level, though. You want to balance brightness with comfort and so if you feel uncomfortable or have to squint, it’s too much.

You can also create a fun, energetic mood by mixing in colored lighting. A popular trend is to backlight wall art. Huge photos on plexiglass or tube lighting wrapped around an old clock, hung just a few centimeters from the wall with colorful lighting behind it add dimension to your room.

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