Lighting can be used to great effect to add character and different moods to space. It comes from many sources, the main being the sun, and provides us with the energy needed for life. Insufficient light or darkness gives rise to a sense of insecurity. Artificial lighting during the hours of darkness makes us feel safe. So light not only enables us to see; it also affects our mood and sense of wellbeing. Light brings any interior to life; every shape is defined by its own shadow. Lighting is one of the most overlooked and yet important elements of good interior design.
Natural light is needed for all humans to thrive and at the same time for home. Natural light can kill bacteria that loom in dark and wet spaces. Use houseplants as an excuse to let in natural light. Natural light is basically impossible to reproduce. Artificial light does not carry the same airy quality that makes space seem breathable and open. In fact, adding too much light can, counterintuitively, make a room feel smaller and more claustrophobic. The best way to substitute natural light is to strategically place artificial light throughout a room so that there are effervescent highlights and lowlights, which create definable areas within a space. Mixing track lighting, lamps, and up-lighting using full-spectrum bulbs will help you achieve this effect.
Natural light should always be considered when choosing a color for any space.
North-facing rooms: Light in these rooms is cool and bluish. Bolder colors show up better than muted colors; lighter colors will look subdued.
South-facing rooms: Dark colors will look brighter; lighter colors will virtually glow.
East-facing rooms: Light is warm and yellowy before noon, bluer later in the day. great for reds, oranges, and yellows.
West-facing rooms: Evening light in these rooms is beautiful and warm, while scant morning light can produce shadows and make colors look dull.
Types of Lighting
- General lighting or ambient lighting illuminates an entire space for visibility and safety. It flattens an interior design and creates a very little shadow. Light bounces off walls and ceilings to cover as much area as possible. Up-lights point illumination toward the ceiling. These include torchiers and wall sconces. Down-lights cast light down from the ceiling or wall. These include recessed lights and track lights. Some lights, such as table and floor lamps, are both up- and down-lights because they cast light toward both the ceiling and the floor.
- Task lighting or work, lighting illuminates smaller areas where more intense light is needed. Task light should be three times as bright as general lighting. Good task lighting fixture choices are well-positioned recessed lights, track lighting, pendants, table or floor lamps, and under-cabinet lighting strips. Effective task lighting enhances visual clarity and keeps the eyes from getting tired, so it needs to be glare-free.
- Accent lighting adds brilliant shimmer to make your precious objects, paintings, sculptures, and outstanding architectural features stand out. Position the fixture so that the light doesn’t block your line of sight so that no glaring reflections bounce back. Halogen makes the best accent light because of its intensity and brilliance. Lighting itself can be a work of art for your interior design. A spotlight illuminating a statue on a pedestal or portrait on the wall is also artistic.
- Incandescent: The warm, yellow-amber light of these bulbs will make reds, oranges, and yellows more vivid while muting blues and greens.
- Fluorescents: This flat and cool light enriches blues and greens.
- Halogens: These white lights resemble natural light and make all colors look more vivid.
- Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): can produce either a warm white, neutral, or bluish-white light.
- Light-emitting diodes (LEDs): You can buy warmer or cooler LEDs, and even LED bulbs whose color you can control wirelessly.
- Intimate: just use some diffused lighting in one portion of the room and leave the rest of the lights off. To accomplish this, you could use one lamp for reading a book, a dim chandelier or a few candles for an intimate dinner, or light from a fireplace.
- Intense: leave the lights off on the perimeter of the room and just use bright direct lighting on in the middle of the room.
- Focused: use even bright lighting all over the room. Classroom often uses an even distribution of fluorescent lights to help students focus. You can even use an equal distribution of light in your kitchen from overhead lights to help you focus on cooking.
- Relaxed and casual: just use perimeter lighting. This would be good for watching TV or hanging out with the family. You can use dim lamps or uplighting in the corners of your room or indirect lighting that illuminates your ceiling.