Does your home need a makeover? Does your decor look tired and uninspiring? Before you dive into a remodel or redecorating project, consider one thing. The culprit of your "blah" feeling probably boils down to one little, seemingly insignificant detail:
Lighting is more important than you think. Sometimes, all a room makeover needs to consist of is a small change in the way a room is lit. The right light bathes a room in an impeccable way, makes a space look comfortable and inviting, emphasizes the use and feel of the room, and makes you look and feel your best. Allow us to illuminate the subject. (See what we did there? Clever bunch, we are.)
First, let's go over the number one rule of lighting: No bright lights! Overly bright lighting makes a room look too sterile and washes everything out. This isn't to say that a room shouldn't be bright and cheery. The trick is to layer your sources of light (including natural window light) to achieve the perfect balance. There's no need to light an entire room. Think about the rooms in your house, their functions, and which areas need which kind of lighting.
Architect and designer David Rockwell says, "Choose your light source, and then determine how to diffuse it." According to Rockwell, simply switching out a lampshade can make a huge difference. Another way to diffuse light is to add a dimmer. In fact, it's a smart move to install a dimmer on every overhead light in your home, if feasible. Dimmers allow for flexibility as far as mood, time of day, and usage. Huge bonus: they also reduce energy consupmtion and make bulbs last longer. If multiple light sources are the only option in any given room, always install a dimmer switch.
The wrong type of bulb can also be the culprit of a poorly lit room. Repeat after us: never, ever, ever use fluorescent tubes. Even if you think they're an efficient way to light a large space. Just don't. They're too industrial, and not in the cool, funky, downtown loft way. They make colors look off and can cause fatigued eyes. As a different option to incandescent bulbs, consider compact fluorescent bulbs (CFEs). Screw-in LEDs are also a good choice, but they can be pricey. Dimmable white A-19 LED bulbs are another great way to add warmth to your light source.
Let's take a look at lighting each room. Think about the function of a room before you go out and buy whatever you think looks good. In a dining room, an overhead chandelier with a dimmer works best. Not only does it allow you to adjust the lighting based on mood, but it's more pleasing aesthetically. In the kitchen, consider the most-used sections. Focus direct light on work areas, utilizing under-cabinet task lights, pendant lights, and lights above the stove cooktop. The living room is one of those rooms where layers of light work best. Choose a pleasing combination of floor lamps, table lamps, and overheads like recessed lighting. Put some thought into how each light source fits in with the overall decor and feel of the living room. In the bedroom, overhead light is harsh and not relaxing at all. Once again, if you must have an overhead light, install a dimmer. But ultimately, all you really need are bedside lamps, reading lights by the bed or sitting area, and perhaps a brighter task light for dressing. The bathroom is another tricky area. Some people stand firmly in the "brighter is better" camp. Others prefer a soft glow for a relaxing feel. This is completely up to you and how you want your bathroom to feel. A kids' bathroom, for example, probably calls for bright white light. But the master might need something softer for ambience. Use candles as an option to enhance any lighting you decide on.
Now that we've shed some light on the situation, we hope a light bulb has gone off over your head. (We're full of bad puns today, but we just can't resist.) Try switching up the light in your home for a small change that makes a big impact. If you take this mini-challenge, let us know how it works for you!