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Improve Your Mood with Lighting

by Cheryl Grace, copyright © 2005-2012


The selection of lighting can play a key role in how well you execute a task, the mood and atmosphere you want to create in a room or can simply boost the amount of joy you feel on any given day. Before you choose your lighting for any room, first determine what role the lighting will play. Is the goal to add overall brightness, make a room feel larger or elevated or do you just want to feel cozy and connected?

There are four types of lighting: general, task, accent or ambiance, and natural light. Using lighting correctly will make your furniture, artwork and accessories come to life, contribute to how competently your home functions, and empower your frame of mind.

General or downward lighting is functional lighting needed when you enter a room or to add lighting when there is a void of natural light. It role is to help you to navigate around a room and to distributes light evenly in the room. This kind of lighting includes a ceiling globes, track and recessed lighting, pendant lighting, and chandeliers.

Overhead or downward angles of lighting is considered Yang or strong energy and can throw downward shadows unless you have a dimmer switch to adjust the lighting as needed. Descending lighting will make your rooms feel lower and smaller. Recessed lighting gives the illusion of a higher ceiling since nothing is hanging from the ceiling.

You can update your outdated track lighting by replacing the old track with tiny halogen spots that provide a bright, white light where needed. The bonus is it provides the flexibility to adjust the light to illuminate artwork. Most standard ceiling fittings can be adapted to fit a track and you can take it with you if you move.

Task lighting is necessary when reading, working at your desk, and for any projects and hobbies that require a skill and focus. The function is project light toward the tabletop and therefore is consider directional lighting. Task lighting helps you to see better and fully light the surface you’re working on. Included in task lighting are standing and table lamps, clamp lights, and wall mounted lamps. 

When choosing task lighting, you’ll want to consider the height and color of the shades for the task you are performing. White or light colored lampshades with a wide bottom will throw more light onto the surface. Dark lampshades absorb light and are better suited for mood or accent lighting. The height of the lamp is crucial for performing a task. In most cases the height of the lamp should be 14-16 inches for a desktop and up to 20 inches measured from surface of an end table to the bottom of the shade for bedside lamps.

Accent or ambiance lighting is used to create an atmosphere or to highlight artwork, collections, and accessories such a plant or sculpture. Most wall fixtures can serve as accent lighting by creating a directing beam of light towards an object.

These types of lighting options include upward lighting, such as torcheres or sconces, cove lighting, directional track lighting, spotlights, and kinetic light such as candles or a fireplace. Torcheres can make a room feel higher by “lifting” the ceiling with upward lighting. They also uplift slanted (lower) or dark corners.

You can make any room feel cozier and relaxed when the role of the lighting takes a secondary or background presence. Without buying another lamp, you can create ambiance lighting with your overhead light or end table lamps by switching to 3-way light bulbs, colored light bulbs or dimmer switches.

Natural sunlight not only serves a source of light but also brings natural energy into your home. Keep your windows clean on both sides, and open the window treatments daily to allow the sunlight to stream in. If you have a less than attractive view, consider window treatments that hide the eye sores yet are strategically designed to allow light to enter.

A final recommendation is to choose your light bulbs carefully. While fluorescent lighting is long lasting, it can feel hard and unnatural. Incandescent tungsten lighting provides a continuous distribution of warm lighting, similar to sunlight. Full spectrum lighting is a slightly whiter light and gives the colors in your home a truer, more vibrant hue that can be quite uplifting for those of you flourish in lighted surroundings. Dimming your light by 10 percent can double the life of your light bulb!

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