Light is more than just a means to see the page you’re reading or the partner you’re snuggling. It can set a mood and tone for any room in your home, and even your outside areas. From the warm glow of candles to natural sunlight to bright halogen floodlights, you can send a message, change the appearance of a space, alter your own mood, and set the tone of your day or night with just the right kind of lighting.
Going Au Natural: Relying on natural light will of course save you on energy costs. If you’ve got a room with southern or southwestern exposure that enjoys sunlight all day, maximize the natural light for a beautiful glow. Plus the vitamin D is great for your mood! To maximize the natural light you receive, use light-colored paint on the walls and light furniture to reflect the sunshine. Strategically placed mirrors will also get the light into the furthest corners. Cotton and linen curtains will give the room a lighter feel than heavy velvet or dark colored damask. If you must have heavy window treatments to keep out the cold or extreme summer heat, make sure you can tie or push them back to let the most light in when you want it.
Lighting Choices: Ambient lighting is generally a low lighting level that comes from overhead fixtures. The light they produce bounces off surfaces around the room and creates an ambience that is very different from that created by task lighting. Recessed lights, sconces, and chandeliers are examples of fixtures that produce ambient lighting, which is soft and inviting (and often romantic!). Your table lamp and directed lighting fixtures like those fitted under cabinets generally create a brighter, focused light. Nearly all light bulbs are LED these days, which are up to 99% more efficient than the old incandescent bulbs that are being slowly phased out of circulation. LEDs can now be found in different colors that can temper the overly bright glow some people feel they produce. Try a blue-toned bulb for a softer light.
Lighting Up Outdoors: Perhaps you already have perimeter or security lights, but if you entertain outdoors in the evening, you will want to soften your outdoor light and set a mood on your patio or porch just as you do inside your home. Tiki lights can be fun, and some have special oils that help keep away insects, but they aren’t great if you really need to see what you’re doing, as when you’re grilling or trying to cut food on a plate. Hanging lanterns can provide a more directional light that is still soft. LED and solar lights will save you money when lighting the great outdoors. Candles are a lovely choice for setting a more intimate mood and can be combined with lanterns or even fluorescent lights, which tend to appear less harsh outdoors.
There are so many options when it comes to selecting lighting. It’s really up to you: the mood you want to set and the price you’re willing to pay will guide you in illuminating your living spaces in the best manner.