Light it Up! How Lighting Can Elevate Your Mood and Transform Your Space

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Have you ever been in a space and the vibe is just ... off? Often, lighting is the culprit.

Research indicates that warmer lighting is most associated with a cozy and relaxed atmosphere perfect for being creative and socializing, while cooler lighting is more suited for when you need to be most alert and ready to focus on the task at hand. And while preferences vary, more and more folks are recognizing how influential lighting can be in a space, especially within your home, where you're meant to feel the most at ease.


According to Julie Chesla, Lighting Consultant for Grand Rapids Lighting Center, lighting sets the general tone of a room's environment, as it influences the appearance of wall colors, the shadow patterns cast by objects within your space and can make a room appear larger or smaller.

"Good lighting can brighten up a space and make it feel open, larger and inviting, while bad lighting can make it feel dark, dreary and smaller," Chesla explained. "Good lighting, without glare, also reduces eye fatigue and headaches."

Chesla notes that lighting can also affect your mood, as it can stimulate the production (or lack thereof) of serotonin and melatonin.

"Keep in mind, blue light suppresses levels of melatonin helping us stay awake and alert while red light increases levels of melatonin helping our bodies get ready for bed," Chesla said. "The higher the kelvin temperature in your bulb or light fixture, the bluer the color of the light emitted. Bedroom lighting should have a lower kelvin temperature to make it easier to sleep, while kitchens and bathrooms need brighter lighting, making a higher kelvin temperature more suitable."


A great way to up the cozy factor in a room, Chesla says, is to replace any existing switches with dimmers, as they allow you the flexibility to match your mood in any given moment.

"Just be sure to install dimmable bulbs and with the compatible dimmer so the fixtures work correctly," she said, noting that adding table and floor lamps or wall sconces to any space is also effective. "These items add an extra layer of lighting and come in so many different designs that also can double as a home décor piece."

A bonus? Table and floor lamps are portable, meaning they can be placed anywhere an extra hint of light is needed and adjusted accordingly if you ever decide to switch the room's layout around. Wall sconces can also simply be plugged in for a quick installation wherever you need a dash of light. You'd be surprised just how much these little touches can entirely reinvigorate your space!


Remember not to discount the power of natural light! Not only is it free, but there's nothing quite like a golden hour sunset or bright winter's light shining from the outside in. Take advantage of whatever natural light you have by clearing clutter from blocking window spaces, choosing light filtering window treatments, considering installing skylights and more.

Also, in case you forgot, lighting can be fun! Don't be afraid to get creative with lighting accents that fit your specific style. This could include everything from a warm Himalayan salt lamp on a bedside table and an eclectic neon sign above your bar cart to wall-mounted picture lights for art in your office and a nostalgic lava lamp in your den. Yes, a lava lamp.

ALSO ...
Types of bulbs vary. So while incandescent bulbs are a thing of the past and longer-lasting, energy efficient options have taken center stage, the craving for warm lighting remains. While shopping, keep this range in mind: 2200 kelvin (warm glow); 2700 kelvin (soft white); 3000 kelvin (bright white); 4000 kelvin (cool white); and 5000 kelvin (daylight).

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

This article originally appeared in the Feb/Mar '24 issue of West Michigan Woman.


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