Proper indoor lighting involves more than just what’s directly above your head. Good indoor lighting comprises several layers that tackle many tasks and set the right mood. In some cases, lights can even shift your perspective with just the flip of a switch! Below, learn how to choose the right lighting for any space, whether you’re looking to enhance what you have or entirely transform your current space.
Types of lighting
When you’re looking at lighting options for your space, you should buy several fixtures that, in tandem, cover the three layers of lighting, which are:
- Ambient lighting. Ambient lighting fills most of your space so that you can see enough to safely make your way around. Most everyday ceiling lighting is considered ambient lighting, as are most floor lamps.
- Task lighting. Task lighting provides extra visibility atop surfaces used for reading, writing, or other tasks. It supplements ambient lighting, which can leave dark, shadowy pockets in a corner or two of your room. A bedside table lamp can be considered task lighting.
- Accent lighting. Think of accent lighting as task lighting but solely for decorations. You’ll place it atop, aside, or just under wall art or furniture that you want to highlight. For example, two small lamps on side tables next to your long, gorgeous vintage couch can help make your couch the focal point of your space.
Among these lighting types, task and accent lighting fixtures are typically smaller and easier to place than ambient lights, which are designed to be more permanent. They’re also more often available in unusual or funky styles, thus giving you a more diverse array of options from which to build your home lighting setup. It can thus help to think of ambient lighting as your foundation and task and accent lighting as what you build atop that foundation.
How to choose the right lighting
To choose the right lighting for your home, the following steps may prove helpful:
- Plot it out. Does that poorly illuminated corner actually have enough space for that fancy floor lamp with the giant base? Map out your ideal lighting setup before buying anything so that you only spend money on fixtures that actually fit your space.
- Figure out your style. That black geometric pendant light fixture catching your eye at the store might look great there, but it could prove too intense in your home’s current decor theme. Instead, your fixtures should go hand in hand with your space’s paint colors and furniture. Sure, a chandelier in a room lacking elegant furniture will stick out, but more like a sore thumb than a pretty decoration if not planned properly.
- Don’t be afraid to combine lights. Chances are that one light fixture won’t be enough for your space. For example, you might need another light source to illuminate the desk tucked out of reach from your overhead lights. Or maybe your ceiling recessed lighting needs a boost from some accent fixtures to set the right mood at your dining room table. Light combos work best in both these situations (and in most others too).
- Choose the right light bulbs. Some types of lighting can fully illuminate your space while leading to undesirable mood impacts. Others can lower your electric costs but appear blurry at far distances. You should balance these lighting types’ pros and cons as you decorate your space. Keep the following in mind:
- Fluorescent bulbs are among the brightest types of ambient lighting, but their negative mood effects are numerous. Continuous exposure to them can lead to headaches, low energy, irritability, anxiety, and more.
- Incandescent bulbs are commonly used in home lighting fixtures, but the cool daylight color temperatures they often emit can set the wrong mood at night. Daylight color temperatures are stimulating instead of relaxing, making cool white incandescents a no-go when you have guests over at night. Warm white incandescents somewhat solve this problem, but other bulbs remain superior.
- LED bulbs are much more energy-efficient than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, and you can often change their colors to whatever feels right in the moment. However, as your distance from your LED light increases, you may experience a blobby “cheese-puff” effect that leads to lower brightness and focus.
- Laser bulbs are slightly more energy-efficient than LED bulbs and don’t lose brightness or focus with distance. Their sharp blues, reds, and greens can work as subtle ambient lighting for movie nights, task lighting for more creative projects, and accent lighting that elevates your favorite wall art.
How room size and aesthetics affect lighting
How to best light your room will depend on what you do there, how you want to feel there, and how much space you need to illuminate. Lighting tips that apply in one part of your house might thus prove inappropriate for another, so below, we’ve shared some tips for lighting each of your rooms.
Living room lighting
Your living room is where you go to relax, whether alone with your TV or among a group of friends chatting with music and snacks. Fluorescent lights will set entirely the wrong mood here, as will dark and poorly illuminated corners. Instead, living room lighting should be warm and soft while appearing inviting and emphasizing your room’s best features.
To start, consider adding track lights to your ceiling. These lights provide primarily ambient lighting, but you can point each fixture on the track at different objects – furniture, paintings – to accentuate them. To properly highlight your living room’s focal point, whether an entertainment center or a couch, surround it with accent lights. Add task lighting near reading chairs so you can enjoy your book without squinting.
Entertainment room lighting
In home entertainment rooms, you and your guests are often oriented around a large screen for watching movies or playing video games. In both cases, you only want enough entertainment room light to safely walk around while not introducing screen glare. Recessed lighting or track lights, especially those with dimmers, achieve this balance well.
Laser lights also strike this balance the same while adding mood-setting flair to your entertainment room. For example, installing a BlissBulb in a fixture near your screen makes your room traversable while emitting green, red, or blue starry-sky displays. These displays transform your room from an entertainment space into a full-on immersive experience. Under laser lights, whatever you’re watching or playing will entrance you even more.
You’ll often enter your kitchen to chop vegetables, cook on your stovetop, or wash your dishes. You’ll thus want to supplement your ambient lighting with task lighting over your sink, countertop, or stovetop. Often, stoves come with built-in overhead lighting for just this purpose, but you may need to add table lamps or wall-mounted fluorescents for countertop lighting.
Whether you also need warm light bulbs for your kitchen lighting depends on whether your kitchen is eat-in. If you eat your meals in a separate dining room, you can probably get away with just cool white task lighting in your kitchen. If not, you should add warm white accent lighting around, but not directly atop, your kitchen table. Pendant lights or wall sconces can do the trick here, as can track lights aimed at your table.
Dining room lighting
After all that chopping and cutting in your kitchen, you’ll just want to relax by the time you reach the dining room with a delicious meal ready to go. Careful accent and ambient dining room lighting choices can achieve the comforting effect you seek.
A pendant light or chandelier over your dining room table provides a charming, calming ambiance and enough light for you to see what you’re cutting with your fork and knife. Small accent lights shining down onto your favorite dining room wall art can also help set an elegant mood. Just be sure to preserve the colored lighting for bathrooms and bedrooms – as soothing as colored lights can be, they may not kickstart your appetite.
If you apply makeup under your bathroom lighting, then the task lighting near your mirror or vanity should be cool white or daylight white. That’s because makeup applied in warm lighting may appear to be the right color as you apply it, but under the cooler color temperatures of natural light, your makeup may appear completely different.
However, if you’re fond of baths and other bathroom relaxation ideas, warm white ambient lighting – especially with dimmers – may prove superior. Regardless of why or how you light your bathroom, you should use wet-rated fixtures in your shower and damp-rated fixtures elsewhere.
For relaxing bathroom lighting, laser projectors such as the Ark Ambient Aurora provide just the right vibe. Under the Ark’s gently oscillating green auroras and vivid blue backgrounds, you’ll see – and experience – your bathroom comforts in a whole new light.
Bedroom lighting comes with all kinds of considerations. Of course, you’ll sleep in your bedroom every night, so you’ll need dim, warm lighting that relaxes you before bedtime. You’ll also need ambient lighting for checking your outfits in the mirror or working at your desk.
Speaking of desks, tabletop task lights also come in handy for bedroom desks and side tables. Most people who work from their bedrooms place their home office desks along walls or against corners that overhead ambient lights struggle to reach. Beds are often placed similarly, so table lamps or other task lights are important for reading in bed.
Above all, though, your bedroom lighting should help situate you for sleep even when you’re at your most anxious. Colored lighting can affect sleep: Red lighting, for example, is correlated with improved sleep, whereas white light is correlated with wakefulness. Other calming light colors appropriate for sleep may include pink, green, and blue.
As the latter two colors go, laser lights such as the Sky Lite Laser Galaxy Projector are a great choice for a comfortable bedroom. The Sky Lite’s blue nebula clouds and stars resemble the starry skies you might see as you call it a night on a camping trip in a desolate area. They take you miles away without you moving an inch, and in transforming your space so seamlessly, they transport you to a calm mindstate that’s perfect for sleep.
BlissLights make great home lights for all kinds of needs
When choosing lighting for your home, how your lights and fixtures look is as important as ensuring that you can actually perform your tasks or achieve your ideal mood in all your rooms. In spaces such as entertainment rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms, BlissLights are especially apt at setting an appropriately wondrous, wowing vibe. Browse our collection to find lights that transform not just your space, but your mind.
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