You want your home to feel cozy and comfortable… so, why did you buy that bright white light bulb for the living room? The lighting you install can have a serious impact on the look and feel of your space — you know this is true if you’ve been in the above scenario, with your warmest rooms cast in the starkest, coldest glow.
We can help you fix your lighting woes, though. The following are seven of the easiest ways to swap out a few bulbs and make a huge difference on your home’s décor. Read on, flip the switch and voila: your house will become a (perfectly lit) home.
1. Have Multiple Bulbs Per Room
A single, extra-bright overhead light casting a glow over an otherwise dark room probably reminds you of one thing: a police interrogation. Even if you’ve never been in one (and we won’t judge you if you have, don’t worry) you can easily conjure up this image in your mind. You can likely realize that a single bulb is not going to create a welcoming environment, either.
Your first course of action in home lighting, then, is to have multiple bulbs in each room in order to layer your lighting. An overhead light is certainly useful, but pair it with table and floor lamps for further brightness. Having multiple options makes it easier to create a mood, too: late-night TV sessions might call for a single table lamp, while after school homework time could require full-on lighting.
2. Take Watts into Consideration
Watt the watt?! It turns out that little number on your light bulb can have a big impact on the way your room feels. Take, for example, your dining room: you don’t want to overpower intimate dinner conversations with an overhead light so bright it looks like a hospital. Instead, grab a bulb with a lower wattage, around 60. The glow cast will be just as warm as that delicious meal in your belly. Read up on the right wattage for each room before you pick up bulbs at the hardware store.
3. Call Recess on Recessed Lighting
It seems like a great idea to add a bunch of recessed light bulbs when you put them in, but the result can be overwhelming to say the least. Only install recessed lights where they’re really necessary and functional. Think of places like your bathroom or over your kitchen countertops, where extra light would help you perfectly apply makeup or put together that casserole for dinner.
Pros also recommend lighting your closet with recessed bulbs as well. A dark closet is not a particularly useful one, after all — how will you be able to pick the perfect outfit if you can’t see what color your shirt is and whether or not it matches your slacks? In other rooms, though, a floor or table lamp will do the trick, so you can save yourself a hole in the ceiling.
4. Do Dim Your Switches, Though
Regular old light switches? Boring! You can solve your wattage problem as described above by installing dimmers instead. They help you create exactly the atmosphere you want, when you want it. That way, you can transform your dining room table from intimate eatery to lively game-night surface with the slide of a switch.
5. Take Advantage of New Technology
All light bulbs are not created equal in today’s day and age. Rather than scooping up light bulbs that waste energy, resources and, of course, money, try swapping your bulbs for the LED version next time they burn out.
LED bulbs have a wealth of advantages, including a life that’s 25 times longer than that of the average incandescent bulb — sometimes, they last for 20 years. LED bulbs don’t contain chemicals or other harmful materials, and they’re completely recyclable. They’ve also become cheaper and cheaper as people realize that they’re not too good to be true: they last forever, work the same and do a little bit to save the earth. Now, that’s a win-win-win situation.
6. Put Switches in the Right Spot
No one wants to walk past the door to turn a light on, especially when the room is already dark. So, if you’re doing any sort of home wiring on your own, make sure the overhead light is always within arm’s reach of the doorway.
To that end, make sure you place your light switches at just the right height: most pros put them at just around 36 inches off of the ground so that they don’t interfere with any art you want to hang higher up on the wall. How considerate of them!
7. Be Creative
Finally, a lighting pro would never settle for the builder-grade fixtures that come with most condos and homes these days. Instead, they would crack their knuckles, remove the bland chandeliers and upgrade to lighting that suited their very particular style.
You can easily do the same in your own home. Take, for example, your kitchen island. A contractor may have installed a rectangular fluorescent light overhead, but a set of hanging lights could add major drama. Stainless steel shades, blown glass pendants, Moroccan-style lanterns… the possibilities are truly endless.
Really, the same goes for the rest of your home and your lighting choices. It may be frustrating to hear that most pros will tell you to choose bulb that creates the atmosphere you want but it really is that simple. Shop around, try out a few different options and see just how big a difference the right bulb can make. Then, let there be light in the living room, dining room, bedroom and bathroom that suits your every mood.
Jennifer Landis is a 27-year-old healthy living blogger who loves yoga, running, and dancing it out with her toddler! You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or by following her on Twitter: @jenniferelandis.