Improving Your Home’s Lighting

Do you ever notice that in some mirrors you look radiant, while in others you seem to have aged five years in a day? Don’t blame it on the mirror. How you look depends upon the lighting, and that same principle applies to your home.

“Lighting can be traced back to your mood,” says Aundrea Brown, Vice President of Intermark Design Group, who helps design interiors for properties in major markets. “Having a light, airy room is going to make you feel more refreshed, healthier and more motivated rather than being in a dark space.”

Additionally, lighting can enhance the look and feel of each room in your house. Here are some bright ideas for perfecting the lighting in your home.


1. Layer your light sources.

To add functionality and dimension, shoot for three light sources per room: ambient, task and accent lighting, especially in bedrooms. Ambient provides a main source of lighting, like a chandelier or ceiling fan. “When you have a big light fixture, consider your ceiling height,” says Brown. “If you have an 8-foot ceiling height or lower, you probably don’t need to go super big, but if you’re looking at a 9- or 10-foot ceiling, you have a lot more room for that bigger fixture.”

Task lighting, on the other hand, helps perform specific activities such as reading, cooking or working. Accent lights are fun or beautiful fixtures, such as pendant lights or lamps, that really add to the mood and design of the room.


2. Create a unique scheme for each room.

Each room in your house has a certain purpose, so make sure to light those rooms accordingly. For instance, task lighting is very important in a kitchen. Under-cabinet lights can be added to highlight the countertop or backsplash. They also provide additional light when preparing food. A bedroom, however, should be relaxing. Bedside sconces will add reading light without creating clutter on the nightstands. In an entryway, a large statement fixture can make a striking first impression. And in the 
  bathroom, make sure you have shadow-free lighting to help when you’re getting ready.


3. Light what you love.

That gorgeous painting on your wall — put it on display with track or ceiling mounted lights. Or maybe there’s a cool bookshelf in the living room. “Use picture lights on top of or in the shelves,” says Brown. This way, you’ll bring attention to these pieces and, incidentally, disguise areas that might be a little less photogenic.


4. Don’t forget about dimmers.

If you love to set the mood in certain rooms, it’s a great idea to have a dimmer. This will let you easily adjust the lighting at various times of the day and year. For instance, you may want a bright dining room when you’re cleaning before or after a dinner party, but when you have guests, you might prefer softer lighting.


5. Lightbulbs shouldn’t be an afterthought.

When it comes to bulbs, it’s important to choose one that complements the coloring in the room. Using the wrong color temperature or brightness can affect the look, energy and mood of a space. For instance, use bright whites in cool-toned rooms with light-colored walls like a gray, says Brown. In rooms with warm-toned color schemes, however, choose bulbs with a temperature of 2700K, as they cast a yellowish hue. LED lightbulbs are a good choice because they’re energy-efficient and emit a flattering glow.


6. Use light sources as design elements.

Choose your main fixture first and then add those floor and table lamps. They don’t have to match — experiment with different colors, shapes, heights and even textures, such as those that have natural materials like raffia. “Also consider mixing metals,” says Brown. “Use gold, silver and matte black in one room. And those natural materials could be incorporated with metals as well.”

On the other hand, if you want to add an industrial element, choose a fixture with exposed lightbulbs and fill it with vintage-inspired Edison bulbs.


If you’re looking for more ideas, lighting trends are leaning toward opaque glass bulbs with solid white illumination versus small bulbs. “Things like the candela bulbs, that look like candlelight, are not as popular,” says Brown.

Finding the right lighting can help create the perfect atmosphere in your home. That’s why as you design your spaces, add lights where they’re really needed and keep lower ambient light in rooms where you’re trying to set a certain mood. Of course, since natural lighting is the best lighting during the day, says Brown, make sure to keep furniture and fabric away from the windows so you can let that beautiful, warm sun in.