To get an idea of how much lighting affects you, think about restaurants and bars. Fast food places make more money when they serve more customers. So they use bright, overhead fluorescents with lots of windows, to encourage speed and efficiency. Customers get in, eat, and get out. But fine dining eschews overhead lighting in favor of candles and soft, diffuse light. This helps customers relax and encourages them to order an extra glass of wine or something from the dessert menu. In other words, lighting affects your mood and behavior in all kinds of subtle ways.If you’re from a small town and it’s your first time owning an apartment in the city, things might feel a little dark and cramped to you. If you have smaller windows or tall buildings blocking out the sun for most of the day, it will be harder to feel at home in your house. So how should you light your apartment? And what can you do to make it feel bigger?
Know your lighting
Light affects the way we see things, and different situations demand different lighting. You might think you can’t tell the difference between various lighting types, but your brain is undoubtedly affected by it. Here are the major light sources you should know:Natural light: If you have plenty of windows, you can get a lot of natural light. Sunlight emits photons from every color of the spectrum and will brighten up a room easily. But it also lets in a lot of heat, so some people prefer insulating curtains and more indoor lighting in the summertime. Incandescent bulbs: Traditional filament style light bulbs generally offer a relaxing, warm yellow light that’s perfect for your bedroom or bathroom, especially at night. Because they don’t produce any blue spectrum light, they won’t interfere with your body’s production of sleep hormones. Compact fluorescent and LED lights: These bulbs are both energy efficient and last a lot longer than the incandescent bulbs. LEDs offer a lot of advantages over Compact fluorescents. They require less energy to produce more light and have a controlled direction, so none of it goes to waste. Some of them are tunable and allow you to change the temperature and color of your light source. However, they are generally more expensive than other options. These bulbs are found in three different color temperatures—warm light, neutral light, and daylight. The warm light bulbs are similar in color to incandescent bulbs, while the neutral light bulbs are much brighter and emit plenty of blue light, which helps you wake up in the morning or focus at work. These bulbs are perfect for your kitchen and are suitable for overhead lighting in an office.The daylight bulbs emulate sunlight and are perfect for task lighting. If you like to read, draw, paint, or work on anything that requires you to be able to see in detail, a lamp or spotlight with a daylight bulb will make it a lot easier on your eyes.
Lighting your apartment
If you’re feeling cramped, lighting can go a long way to making you feel more comfortable. Dark areas or rooms with lots of shadows feel more claustrophobic. Brightening things up will make things more spacious. Follow these five lighting tips to really open up your living space:
1. Enhance natural light
Sheer curtains can give you privacy without sacrificing as much natural light. You can maximize your natural light even further by hanging mirrors across from your windows. Not only will it reflect your light and brighten up the place, but it will also add more depth to your apartment. This is an excellent way to provide “fill lighting” to your room, which reduces shadows. This distorts your depth perception, making the room feel larger than it is. More natural light also means you can have more houseplants.
2. Use multiple light sources
Overhead light on its own is harsh and creates shadows. Since lamps and windows offer light below the overhead, they will reduce these shadows. The more options you have, the easier you can switch up the mood. A dimmer switch on your overhead lighting gives you lots of flexibility. Using warm light bulbs in your lamps will provide a more relaxing light source when you’re watching a movie or sitting down for a meal.
3. Try floor lamps and sconces
If you’re already struggling with space, using table lamps might not work to supplement your overhead lighting. To light your place without taking up square footage, you can opt for a slender floor lamp. Some of these are made with shelves you can decorate with pictures. They’re smaller than a side table, and you can make them more attractive with your choice of decoration. Installing sconces on the wall uses zero floor space. This gives you even more freedom to strategically place your other light sources.
4. Place functional light appropriately
Task lighting is necessary to help us focus. Having an additional light to turn on when you’re washing dishes or chopping vegetables in the kitchen will make things go a lot smoother. A desk lamp will give you the light you need to focus on your work, no matter what time of day it is. But you want to be able to turn your task lighting on and off, or your work light will make it harder to relax or socialize.
5. Consider painting the walls
Different colors and types of paint will interact with light differently. Black paint will absorb light indiscriminately, while white paint will reflect all kinds of light. Glossy finishes reflect even more, while matte finishes tend to absorb more. A bright, glossy white will brighten up the darkest of apartments, but might feel harsh or sterile. When choosing the color, apply two coats of paint to a square of drywall and see how it looks in your light. Before you commit, you can see how the color interacts with your space using a few sheets of construction paper. Try reflecting light off your sample on different colors. This will show you how reflective your tone is, as well as the way it affects your perception of colors. Choosing a lighter color will help your room feel much more open.