Think - Lighting

One of the most neglected aspects of home décor is lighting. Unless you or a member of your family works as a lighting technician, you may not realize just how much various lighting effects can dramatically change the appearance of a room. Even using different types of ordinary household light bulbs can make a difference.

Cool Versus Warm

When you buy regular light bulbs they come in several types of white - from warm 'yellow' white to cool 'bluish' white. In fact, light bulb manufactures give a rating called the color rendering index (CRI) to light bulbs that indicate where on the warm-cool spectrum a light bulb sits. On a scale of 1 - 100, a rating of near 90-100, like that of an incandescent bulb or a halogen bulb, is considered to be excellent, giving no or almost no color shift. Whereas a low CRI rating around 21-22, like a high sodium or mercury bulb, can give someone standing underneath it a washed out look.

Manufacturers also use another criteria for categorizing light bulbs which is called the color temperature. Color temperature is measured by comparing the color of a theoretical perfect radiator of light, a 'blackbody' when it is heated to different temperatures and radiates energy. This is quite technical, but basically the object appears to change color as the temperature increases. This same change of color happens under different types of light bulbs which gives the color temperature of the light bulb. As the color temperature increases, the cooler the light becomes. A 'warm' light comes out at around 2000-3000 degrees Kelvin, a medium light is between 3000-4000K, while a 'cool' light is considered to be over 4000K. By using these two references together, you can have a good idea of the type of light any one bulb will produce.

Mood And Task Lighting

If you want task lighting you want more of a coolish blue light, similar to that used in offices, whereas for a more romantic mood, you want low lighting from the warmer end of the spectrum. This is where dimmer switches come in handy, as even if you can't change your light bulb, you can often give a more mellow atmosphere by just turning the lights down low. Another way of achieving task lighting is to have a variety of different kinds of lights around the room. You can choose recessed lights that illuminate a certain area, track lighting to accent different areas, and uplighting or spots that can be directed to where you want. You can also easily move table lights and standard floor lamps around, to change your mood lighting.


Think carefully where you want your switches to go. You may want to be able to turn your lights on and off from different places in the room, so you will need to have switches that allow you to do this. Another idea is to take advantage of modern technology and turn your lights on and off remotely. You can buy a simple starter system for around $100 online and be able to control your lights the way you do your TV and CD player. You can even link this type of system into your computer, so you can program your lights to turn on and off even when you aren't at home. This is an excellent way to deter burglars, as are motion sensor lights. These turn on immediately they sense someone's body heat and can be used inside or out.

Plan where to put your extra lighting or switches in advance before you start painting and decorating to avoid spoiling your décor.