Light and space are the primary tools of architects and interior designers. Light can transform a room at the flick of a switch – as long as the fixtures and fittings have been artfully arranged in the first place.
There’s a reason why designers get the big bucks. They develop skills and instincts for working with light to make a room more spacious or to achieve a certain feel. But that doesn’t mean the average home decorator can’t achieve great things with the simplest of design materials: light!
Here’s a demonstration of how simple lighting solutions can transform the way a room looks.
1. How to maximize natural light
There’s nothing quite like natural light. Not only is it scientifically proven to make you happier and healthier, it looks really, really good. But not every corner of every room gets the daylight it deserves.
The trick is to think reflective: mirrors and pale-coloured paint (preferably gloss) positively invite light into a room. And think smart with your choice of drapery. Sheer curtains protect your privacy while spreading relaxing soft light through a room. Bliss!
2. How to use light to make a room appear more spacious
Our eyes and brains interpret space according to the distribution of light. That’s why a gloomy room can feel small and cramped.
Light catches the eye, so placing lamps around a room – particularly at its extremities – reminds the unconscious mind that those areas exist. A more ambitious effort is to use back-lighting: illuminating furniture and fittings from behind to create the illusion of depth.
3. How to use light to make a room appear taller
Tall rooms feel instantly luxurious, but not everyone is lucky enough to have high ceilings. Thankfully, you can create the illusion of height with light.
One way to direct people’s eyes upwards is to invest in ‘statement’ lighting: fancy light fixtures that transform the dimensions of a room. Choosing clear and simple statement fittings avoids blocking sight lines, so that headspace feels more expansive.
4. How to use light to make a room appear cosier
There’s little cosier in life than gathering around a campfire. It’s not just the warmth on your skin, but all the sensations that go with it, that make an open fire feel cosy.
Okay, so it’s not always practical to have an open campfire in the middle of your room, but grouped candles can create the same ‘light temperature’ and awaken those ancient nesting instincts. And softer light that’s filtered through lampshades adds to the sense that you’re lit in a natural, cosy way, rather than by a harsh light bulb.
5. How to use lighting to change the temperature of your room
So we mentioned light temperature above: this is actually a science that designers, filmmakers, and psychologists alike utilize to change the effect of a room or scene.
Blue-white light resembles daylight, so it makes you alert (which is why to avoid the blue light of your electronic devices in the evening). Warm light (with a rating of 3,000 to 4,000 on the ‘Kelvin scale’) is cosier and may trick you into thinking that you’re warmer. You can buy bulbs or dimmers to change the effect, but it can also be visually pleasing to adjust a bulb’s color with a change of lampshade.
Lighting is the simplest way to change the look of a room – and it may have positive psychological and health effects, too. Is it time to flick that switch?
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