Noteworthy Details: How Lighting can Impact the Overall Design of a Home

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Author Bio: Lisa Wetherell runs the blog Lighting House - where she writes about her knowledge gained from 10 years of industry experience in the lighting and interior design field. To learn more about how lighting can improve your space, you can follow her blog.

When you consider the factors that make a house feel like a home, the first things that spring to mind might be a spacious kitchen, a comfortable sofa or a king size bed. Maybe it is soft, plush carpets or an eclectic ornament collection… whatever imagery is conjured, would it be right to assume that lighting wasn’t the first consideration?

The lighting in a home tends to be one of those things people consider after everything else, and perhaps only when they find that their lighting is actually reducing those all-important homely vibes. Lighting is akin to jewelry in each room; it has a significant impact on the overall look and feel of it. Yet it is so much more than just a finishing touch. The wrong kind of lighting not only destroys the mood of a room; it can also make your regular tasks incredibly challenging to accomplish.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that lighting can impact your home design:

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Natural light is king

Nobody ever complains about too much natural light in a home. In fact it’s a major selling point in real estate. If you happen to be in the design phase of a home, the positioning and size of your windows should be a main consideration. You’ll be glad of the extra light you get in winter months, and the summer months will ensure your home is bathed in sun rays, giving everything a warm and natural glow. Natural light also brings plenty of health benefits, so the more you can get in your home, the healthier and happier you’ll feel.

As natural light may not always be present, it is a good idea to install lighting that mimics it. For instance, morning light is cooler, whereas midday light is whiter, and evening light is warm. Again, blue light is to be avoided, and dimmer switches give you control over the different phases throughout the day.

Halogen bulbs are a good idea as they give the closest approximation of natural light (or white light). With these, the colours in the room will seem sharpest; plus the lights are more energy efficient than other lighting types, like incandescent ones. You might also consider LED lights, such as TCP 60-Watt Equivalent A19 LED bulbs. These work well in lamps, under cabinet lighting, and as task lights.

Lighting dramatically influences colours

If you have colourful furniture, wallpapers or artworks in your home you will want to make sure they stand out in all their glory. When you get the lighting right, you enhance them and they appear even more vibrant. Getting it wrong means you’ll actually detract attention from them.

Accent lighting is the type you’ll need when for accentuating the finer features of a room. It directs the attention to such items, which makes the whole space seem aesthetically pleasant. In terms of colour schemes, note that darker colours will make your room seem smaller and less spacious, whereas light coloured walls make it feel bright and spacious.

You might also notice that the lighting affects the way you look when you’re at home. The lighting in a clothes store may give one impression of colour, but when you get home, your own lighting could make your choices look entirely different. As natural sunlight gives the best indication of colour, consider this for the rooms in which you’ll be assessing your reflection.

Remember too that if this happens with your clothing, it can also happen to your curtains, sofa covers and cushions! A good choice to counteract this issue is energy saving LED bulbs in warm or white colours. Make sure they have a high colour-rendering index, which will give the truest representation of both your clothing and your furnishings.

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Tasks can be made easier with lighting

Lighting is also about practicality, and getting it wrong means you’ll have a hard time getting your tasks done. For example, it is important to be able to see what you’re doing while preparing food, cooking and cleaning up in the kitchen. Installing lights that shine directly onto workspaces is very important.

Similarly, while shaving, applying makeup or any other bathroom task, you’ll want maximum illumination. Installing lights evenly around a vanity mirror (and especially at eye level) rather than one light above it will make all the difference; one light alone would cast unfriendly shadows on the face, making it hard to see what you’re doing and what you genuinely look like! Other task lighting might include the bottoms and insides of cabinets, above reading spaces, on and around desks.

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Lighting has a profound effect on mood

As the ambience of a room will be a primary concern, you will need to think about ambient lighting. Ambient lighting is also termed ‘general lighting’ and it refers to the lights that fill up a space, creating the general atmosphere. Your aim is to create a kind of visual comfort, so you won’t want to simply flood the room with downlighting.

It is more sensible to light up a wall with a soft glow, which can then reflect off that wall. You could do this with wall washers, which will also create the illusion of extra space. Another way to reflect light is through uplighting on your ceilings. Give some thought to where you will put table and floor lamps too, as these are great at creating a lovely ambience.

It might help to know that the lighting in a home doesn’t only affect the mood of the room; it can significantly affect your mood too! The Journal of Consumer Psychology study concluded that lighting had a strong effect on the participants’ moods and emotional states. There was a direct correlation between intensity of lighting and intensity of mood, whether the mood was positive or negative.

The study found that bright lights with hints of red promoted happier moods, while those with blue hues were likely to evoke more angry states. Brightness is good if you like intensity of emotion, but tone and hue are everything. If you prefer a calmer vibe at home, you might want to invest in dimmer switches.