If you’ve been considering changing up the lighting in your home in order to create the perfect ambient lighting for your tastes, there are a few things you need to know before getting started. Not all light was created equally. This is something you’ve discovered for yourself if you’re someone who has swapped out their regular incandescent bulbs for fluorescent ones and the end result was a different, whiter light that creates a whole new atmosphere.
1. Color Temperature
One of the most important properties of light is its color temperature, which is measured in degrees Kelvin. The color temperature determines whether a light is more warm or cool, or rather if it’s more yellow or blue. The color temperature you choose for your light will depend largely on your personal preferences.
Light that is 2,700K is very warm and creates an effect similar to soft candlelight. If your home is filled with warm and rich colors, or it’s a more traditional style this is the lighting that would most suit your space. Light that falls between 2,900 and 3,200 K is warm but not overtly so, and is the preferred warmth range for most people and home decorating styles. Neutral light is at 3,500 K and light that is 4000K and over is cool toned.
Natural daylight is cool, so lighting that mimics’ its effect starts at 4000K and gets progressively cooler depending on the time of day. Homes that have a more modern or contemporary style would benefit the most for whiter and cooler lighting.
2. Natural Light
Exploiting natural lighting is one of the best ways to create the perfect daytime ambient lighting in the rooms your use mostly during the day. Don’t block windows with dark and heavy curtains or furniture. If your living room seems especially dark and gloomy, check if it’s possible to add additional windows to the room. If it is, consider adding them to the south facing wall which will allow you to get the maximum benefit of natural light. If you have a north facing room, the natural light you get may need to be supplemented with artificial lighting.
One of the best ways to amplify the natural light in the room is by introducing mirrors into the mix. Mirrors reflect and amplify light and have the double benefit of making your room look both brighter and bigger. If the only source of natural light in the room is a small window, consider amplifying this light with white paint on the walls that has a high light reflectance value. The LRV measures how much light the paint will absorb or reflect, which is dependent on both the actual color of the paint and its sheen level. Darker colors absorb more light, as opposed to lighter shades which tend to reflect. As for the sheen level, a good rule of thumb is: more gloss = more reflection.
3. Recessed lighting
Any rooms that could benefit from more light than the light available from natural light sources are prime candidates for recessed lighting. Recessed lighting is most commonly in the form of pot or can lights. Each individual light casts a cone of light from the ceiling downwards, and the goal is to place the lights in such a way that their individual cones meet on the floor without leaving any unlit zones or dark spots. The biggest thing to consider when placing the recessed lights is the height of the ceiling, as the width of the pool light created by each light is dependent on the beam spread it can achieve from its height.
There are several popular options for recessed lighting bulbs, starting with halogen MR16 bulbs which are the most budget-friendly option as well as other low voltage bulbs. LEDs make for a very clean and bright option, and although they a have a higher initial cost, they last for quite a long time and can help you achieve optimal lighting with a much smaller light fixture.
4. Adjust for personal needs
Not all of us react to light the same way, which is something that becomes even more pronounced as we get older. Typically aging means that we need more light available in order to see, but often times we also become more sensitive to light. A solution for this is to place several reading lamps in the areas of the home that are used most often.
In addition to aging there are several other things that can lead to someone having an increased sensitivity to light such as migraines, epilepsy and certain medications and medical conditions. Something that can make a huge difference is to use dimmers for all the lighting in the house that will allow you to adjust the lights. This can be supplemented by creating different zones for the lighting in your home creating different zones for the lighting in your home that can be shut off individually allowing you to customize the amount of light to a level that will be comfortable.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all rooms in your home are used equally. Areas that have a high activity levels such as the family room or kitchen can benefit from a higher amount of light which will serve to boost the energy levels of everyone in the room.