I’m not sure that I’ve officially said this on the blog yet, but I’m taking an online course to be an interior designer. I’ve learned a ton in the course already, but I’ll admit that the section on lighting has completely illuminated some areas I need to work on in my home. (see what I did there?). We live in a pretty basic builder grade home, there certainly isn’t any fancy lighting. I knew that I didn’t love how our house felt at night, but until recently I didn’t really know how to fix it.
Why Lighting Makes All the Difference
Before we cover why light is so important, lets go over the functions of light. These functions may seem obvious, but we are just laying the ground work for why light makes such a difference when done well.
Functions of Lighting
There are 2 functions of lighting: task lighting, and ambient lighting. Every room in your house should include both, and some rooms may also benefit from mood lighting. We will come back to that one.
Task Lighting – this one is pretty self explanatory, it is lighting that helps you to do a task. Maybe it’s reading in a chair or in bed, working at your desk, or cooking in your kitchen.
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Ambient lighting – this type of lighting is what allows you to see to move around a room. Depending on the style of the home, and how much the builder wanted to spend on lighting, this could include chandeliers, pendants, track lighting, or recessed lighting.
Sometimes the ambient lighting in a room is not enough or even nonexistent, so you may need to add more ambient light in your home. Ambient light doesn’t have to mean a hardwired fixture, it could also be a floor lamp that you bring in for that purpose.
When you are planning lighting for a room, make sure to include variety. For example, a sconce that shoots light downward, a table lamp that sends light both up and down, and a fixture in the ceiling that spreads light throughout the room. The goal is for the whole room to feel well lit, and if there is only one direction of light, there will be a lot of space left in shadows.
Mood. This one word tells you all you really need to know about why light makes all the difference. I’ll admit, when I was going through the lighting unit in the course, it seemed a little excessive. Designers use a lot of lighting! But then I started noticing the light in my own home, and it definitely felt like it was lacking.
I would encourage you to take note of your space as well. How do you feel in your home at night? Is it cozy? Is it warm? Or does it feel harsh or even dark? Can you see well to read or do some other activity? Light really can affect the enjoyment you get out of a room, so it is an important consideration when decorating your space.
Mood also refers to the style of lighting that you choose. For example, traditional chandeliers or a really modern looking floor lamp. You can also use mood lighting to bring up the drama by using lighting in a vaulted ceiling or to bring focus to a piece of art. The lighting examples below clearly show how the style of lamp you choose can really effect the style/mood of your space.
Illuminate Your Problem Areas
Over the next few days, take notice of the lighting in each room in your house and make note of where your lighting is lacking. I’ll give you some examples of what could be missing in your space by sharing some lighting projects I want to tackle in my own home.
- Kitchen is too dark at night, 18 foot ceilings make ambient & task light a challenge. Look into under cabinet lighting, and small lamps for countertops.
- Dining room light is harsh in the evening. Install dimmer switches.
- Master Bedroom and living areas would also benefit from dimmers.
- Living room needs more ambient light, try floor cans. (a good option if hiring an electrician for wall sconces isn’t in the budget!)
- Laundry room is too dark to see stains, install under cabinet lighting.
- Master closet is dark, look into light strips for top of shelves.
The great thing about this lighting “to do” list is that it can all be done yourself for not a huge investment of money.
If you’re interested in more lighting ideas, check out this post with an Ikea hack that saved my dining room.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, see my full disclosure policy here.
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