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How to Light a Room and Why You Should Care

calander Feb 27 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

Interior design involves a multi-faceted approach. So much goes into turning four walls, a floor, and a ceiling into a welcoming space that goes beyond the sum of its parts. And because the checklist is so long, certain aspects of interior design and improvement tend to go overlooked. Lighting is one of them.

But how should you light a room? And why does it matter, anyway? Let’s discuss these matters further.

Why Lighting Matters for Interior Painting

After turning on the lights in a given room, we might not consciously think much about how those lights play with the features inside. Subconsciously, though, we might feel a certain way depending on how a room is lit. For instance, bright, white lights can make us feel cold, irritable, and anxious, while dimmer yellow lights can calm us down and warm us up. Of course, the importance of lighting goes beyond our emotional responses.

Interior painting contractors can tell you that lighting also affects color, sometimes quite significantly. A certain type of white paint will look one way when reflecting yellow light and another when reflecting blue light. The same goes for paint of all colors, shades, and finishes. If you’re wondering why this matters, consider the time you might spend choosing colors for your various rooms. What happens if you land on a color you love only to realize it doesn’t look the same when lit a certain way? If you’ve already completed your home interior painting, you’ll be in a bit of a pickle.

In other words, you should care about lighting because it ultimately determines how different interior colors and features will look, and it sets the room’s overall atmosphere.

Tips for Properly Lighting a Room

Even if you’re well aware of how light affects the overall look and feel of an area, you might not know how to go about actually lighting a room, let alone every room in your home. Here are some simple lighting tips to get you on the right path.

Different Rooms, Different Light Configurations

The ideal lighting setup for, say, your living room, might not be so ideal for your bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom. You want to light a room based on the type of atmosphere you wish to achieve, as well as the purposes of that room. For example, you might want warmer, dimmer lighting for your dining room, and brighter lights for the kitchen. Additionally, you’ll want to set up task lighting in rooms that require stronger and more targeted lights for various visual tasks such as reading, cooking, studying, and crafting.

Prioritize Primary Lighting

When deciding how to light a room, always start with a primary light source (i.e. the largest, most prominent light that will often get turned on before the rest.) This primary or general lighting (usually overhead) will set the stage for all other sources of light in a room. From there, you can install secondary lights, such as ambient lighting, accent lights, mood lighting, and task lights. Ideally, you want all of these disparate light sources to work well together so your interior features and colors retain their general appearance. This requires careful consideration of placement, direction, and more.

Know Your Bulbs

You can’t have modern lighting without electricity, and different types of bulbs yield different results when it comes to strength, appearance, efficiency, heat, and ambience. In other words, you don’t just have to think about the size, shape, and location of your light fixtures, but also the bulbs they contain. The four main types of bulbs are incandescent (the most common and warm), fluorescent (often blue-ish, harsh, and bright), halogen (hot and resembling natural daylight), and LED (cool and efficient but not able to diffuse like the others). The more you know about these bulb types and how they affect a room’s appearance, the easier it will be to properly light different rooms.

Energy Considerations

While not directly related to residential interior painting, it’s also worth thinking about how much energy your lighting configurations will consume. The more lights you set up and keep running, the higher your electricity bill will be. And if your rooms are painted in dark colors, you’ll probably have the lights on more than you would in lighter rooms. In this way, choosing lighter paint colors (and relying on natural light when possible) can save you some money in this department.

Choosing Colors and Lights: Which Comes First?

Light and color are inextricably linked. As such, you might struggle to determine whether to focus on paint colors or lights first when planning a redesign. In most cases, start with color. Then, once you’ve found some options you like, take the time to compare how these colors look under different light sources. Your local interior painters (and online tools) can help you along the way, giving you a sense of what your room might ultimately look like when painted and lit a certain way.

Need Help with Lighting and Color Choices?

Landing on the perfect combination of color and light is no small task. If you need help at any stage of this process, the pros at Nash Painting are happy to help. We’re a proud Nashville painting company with over a decade of experience transforming homes and businesses through the power of paint, lighting, and other improvements. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at (615) 829-6858 today!