We are attracted to and affected by light. It affects our mood, our circadian rhythm, and our health. Our bodies respond positively to natural light. In the summer we’re able to get lots of vitamin D to boost our mood and happy hormones. The winter is grey and wet where I live in the Northwest. Adding artificial lighting can help compensate for the lack of warm, sunny days during those soaked, dreary months.
As an Interior Designer, I’ve studied lighting in the environments that we inhabit. Here are a couple professional tips to make your space feel happier this winter:
- Eliminate downlighting wherever possible
Many homes don’t have a lot of light fixtures pre-installed in the ceiling. At first this may seem like a major disadvantage, but you can actually use it to craft your own lighting ambiance. Use a balanced combination of ambient lighting (overall glow to the light), downlighting (light that primarily points down), and task lighting (area specific – i.e. for reading), rather than all downlighting.
2. Add Light that Washes the Walls
Washing your walls with light will make the space feel bigger and happier because it’s at your eye level. This type of lighting can be accomplished with long skinny fixtures, either from the ceiling facing down, or the floor facing up.
3. Make it Glow with Indirect Lighting
Lighting which produces an even glow to the fixture and the space around it feels comforting. This type of lighting often comes from globe or tower shaped fixtures. Light that is being bounced off alternate surfaces in your space, before it travels to you, will be softer on your eyes.
4. Choose Light-Hued Paint Colors
Paint colors that are in the 75+ LRV (light reflective value) will reflect the light around your space. The darker the paint colors, the more lighting that is need to compensate in order to achieve the same amount of light level.
5. Mix & Match with Color Temperatures
I like to transition my lighting throughout the day – the morning is usually super bright lighting (everything on), and then as the day goes on, I slowly turn off the lights that are above 3500K temperature. Our space ends up having “sunset” (warm) type lighting at the end of the day. Smart light bulbs that do this digitally are available as well.
If you need a simple solution to apply in your home today, try these tips to get you started:
– Replace your light bulbs with bulbs that have a higher output and full spectrum.
– Adjust the placement of your light fixtures so they reflect off surfaces/ light up darker areas of your space.
Lighting doesn’t have to be hard or scary. Take it one step at time. There is science to it and you can use your own home as a way to experiment with how light is affecting you. Use it to transition into your evening routine, or to help you wake up in the morning. Making small adjustments can make a big difference!
Question: What have you changed up in your house that is working great? Add your ideas in the comments below!
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Light fixtures we have in our home:
When I found this one, a couple things I was looking for were:
- Lux – 10,000 + – nice and bright with options to dim.
- 5500K color temperature – this emulates sunlight the most.
- Full Spectrum LED – this is important because it emulates a full lighting range, rather than just a narrow array of light.
- The ability to adjust the direction the light is pointed – I can use it as a down light on my desk, or bounce the light off a wall to get more indirect lighting.
My husband had one similar to this even before we got married. Unfortunately Ikea has the exact one anymore, but this one is close to what we have. The idea with it is to get an ambient glow lighting.
This one also adds a nice ambient light to the room. It tends to be a warmer light because of the shade, but depending on the color temperature of the lamp, or the light bulbs you put in it, this can vary. I think we have light bulbs around 3,500-4,000K in ours.
This fixture is amazing for in the kitchen. We have 2 of them under our cabinet and it helps add extra light for chopping, or prepping food. Since we’re renting, I attached it to the bottom of the upper cabinets with Command Strips.
The important things I was looking for with this one were:
- 4000K – you want a higher kelvin/light temperature for task areas.
- Sensor switch – I can bump the on switch with my wrist if my hands are messy from cooking. It’s super handy!
- Ability to daisy-chain lights – you can connect a bunch of these fixtures end to end with only one plug for the wall.
- Two lighting modes – There both bright and dim features.