Creating a space is more than just putting together useful items; it’s also about establishing a mood and a feeling. Most of us want our homes to feel warm and comfortable, and lighting can play a significant part in creating that effect. Too often, lighting falls to the wayside when we think about our spaces, and we resort to using the easiest possible item—just the overhead light or a single floor lamp. But by carefully considering our lighting choices, we can truly transform rooms in the interior design process.
Here are 10 ideas to keep in mind as you light your space
1. Incorporate layers
Using multiple light sources is the key to making the most of your lighting and setting up an inviting space. Avoid relying on one single light—whether a singular floor lamp or an overhead light in the center of a room. Doing so can create a one-dimensional feel in your space and flatten the look of the overall room. Adding lamps and other light sources at various heights, with both down and up lighting, creates dimension and a warm feeling of coziness as the lighting draws your attention to multiple corners of the room. This is an essential rule of thumb, and many people underestimate the power of variation.
2. Make it adjustable
The beauty of light is that it changes throughout the day. This means that no single light setting is suitable 24/7. If you have overhead lighting, opt for dimmers wherever possible to create a space you can customize according to the light outside or the mood you want to foster. We tend to want to lower our lighting as we get closer to bedtime, so make this easy by creating an adjustable atmosphere. If you don’t have dimmers, you can also achieve this by relying on multiple lamps and lighting sources that will allow you to choose what to turn on at each point in the day.
3. Temperature matters
You probably have noticed the stark cool light that you see in the fluorescent bulbs of a grocery store or department store. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to bring that feeling into your home. Pick bulbs with intentional temperatures on the warm and cool scale to set the right tone. Warmer temperatures around 2700K will help you establish a cozy feel in a living room or bedroom, while cooler lights around 5000K can be ideal for tasks like working or chopping vegetables.
4. Accents make an impact
Lighting is a practical tool, but it can also help you direct the center of attention within a space. Use under cabinet lights, sconces, or other accents to highlight a painting on a wall, a bookshelf, your house plants, or other features that bring joy and color to the space. Play with the size of your various light fixtures and incorporate balance by using accent lighting to even out the room creatively.
5. Focus on your energy footprint
Choose lights that are energy efficient, like LED bulbs, wherever possible. This will help you save on electricity, emit less heat, and you don’t have to change the bulbs as often. There are endless varieties of LED bulbs; some even come in colors or with apps where you can adjust the color to give you flexibility and variety.
6. Maximize natural light
The sun provides one of the most dynamic and beautiful light sources. So, when you have windows that bring in natural light, you should make the most of them. Don’t block your light sources with shelves; aim to orient the room to make the most of this light. Natural light helps you regulate your circadian rhythms. It brings a dynamic element of change to the space as you watch the lighting move throughout the day, bringing attention to various aspects of the room. Plus, by using your natural light, you can save on electricity and reduce your artificial light usage.
7. Brighten up your dark areas
When you have the lights on, look closely to identify dark areas or corners that are dim, and think of ways you can add small accent lights to give those spots dimension. Allowing parts of the room to disappear into darkness will make the space feel smaller and more confined. Be intentional with your dim areas to create coziness.
8. Make a statement
Lighting can serve as both a tool and an art form. Beautiful and sculptural floor lamps or overhead lights and chandeliers can bring a glow to your room while also adding a stunning design touch. When you are curating your space, don’t underestimate the impact a creative light fixture can have, and incorporate those ideas with the same design sense you would use when choosing wallpaper or artwork. Find a fixture that suits your personality and pick something that offers more than practical value.
9. Focus on the size of the space
Your lighting needs to be proportional to the size of your space. If you have a small studio apartment, you won’t pick a bulb with enough power to light a football field. Create a texture of lighting that fits the room’s scale and play with multiple sources to add and subtract lighting as needed.
10. Draw attention
If there are areas in your room that you love, use lighting to draw attention to those spots and create focal points. Put a lamp next to a stunning chair to create a reading corner, brighten up your bookshelves to show off the small sculptures you have on display, or put a glowing string light around the trim of your space to emphasize the height of the ceilings. Figure out your assets and light the room to fit those features.