How to Match Lighting with Decor
Your home is so much more than simply the paint on your walls and the style and design of your furniture. Another important component to consider when putting together a room is lighting, which plays a large part in creating the look and feel of your home. If you illuminate your space effectively, your décor and color scheme will seem more attractive and appealing, and will make you and your guests feel more comfortable at home. However, if you light your decor with substandard lighting, the entire space might appear dreary and uninviting. Here’s a guide to help you match your lighting with décor.
Home Lighting Basics
When decorating your home, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two uses for your lighting. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is functionality. You’ll need to provide enough light so that you can see well enough to do your daily tasks. The places where you sit and stand typically require more illumination. Otherwise, you won’t have the ability to perform your routines comfortably.
The other usage is the crux of this guide. Lighting to accentuate your home’s features is the less celebrated aspect. It’s just as important, though. In fact, in an expert’s hands, lighting for emphasis is the difference between a drab room and a dazzling one. You simply need to understand the rules in play when you place your lights.
Tricks of the Light
The trick here is to appreciate how paint interacts with light. It’ll take a bit of practice, but you should figure out the process after a few tests. Position your lights at different angles and point them at your wall. You’ll notice a difference in the way the paint shines depending on the angle of the light. That’s due to the variations in illumination. A direct display of the light’s incandescence strengthens the colors, while an oblique angle creates a shadow effect.
In combination with shading, you can apply almost any type of lighting you want to a specific room, or section of a room. The light’s angle directly determines how much of the wattage the person sees, but the shade will filter it, giving you complete control. Always think of shade as a potential asset if the light in your room isn’t quite right. You can use it to manipulate the amount of illumination that filters from the lightbulb to the surrounding area.
Up and Down
Straight lighting is the most popular way to brighten a room. The light’s direction determines the level of illumination. An upward lighting effect is ambient, and it can provide distinct accents to your furnishings. You should use upward lighting if you prefer a soft glow to your room. This tactic will set the perfect mood for relaxation. It’s great for your bedroom or for a bathroom you use primarily for luxurious baths.
Downward lighting provides a more focused, direct light. It’s the proverbial ray of artificial sunshine that feels like a spotlight. This kind of lighting works best to illuminate a small part of a room brightly. In combination with a shade, you can tunnel all the light specifically to one spot in your home.
Think about lighting in terms of your dining room table. Imagine a chandelier hanging above you while you eat. If it sways or has a full protective enclosure, the light is mild and inconsistent. Conversely, if the chandelier has a hood, the light radiates in a narrow beam.
Matching Lights with Paint Colors
The way that light affects paint is more significant than you might realize. The basic rules of color apply: Blue absorbs red, white absorbs nothing, and black absorbs the entire spectrum of colors. When you are in a store picking out paint for your space, the lighting is different from what you’ll experience when you come home. This explains why some DIYers feel frustration when the color they loved so much in the store doesn’t look right on the wall.
A second factor is sunlight. The lighting in the store is different from the lighting your paint receives on your home’s walls. Pay attention to how well-lit the store is when you’re visiting, then consider the basic traits of sunlight in each of your rooms.
North-facing rooms are bluer in tone, which means they’ll distract from red paints. South-facing rooms enjoy more sunlight, so stronger colors work better with your decor. East-facing rooms start the day yellow before evolving into blue in the afternoon. You’ll have to pick colors that safely interact with both. Finally, west-facing rooms receive little morning sunlight. The paint you select should have the ability to overcome shadows and darkness.
Now that you understand the basics of lighting, here are a few advanced strategies. Matching furniture with lighting can accentuate your current decor more than you might realize. Chosen correctly, a few new lights can save you the cost of a new living room set. All you need is a proper understanding of color coordination.
Look at the existing pieces in the room. What color are the rug, tables, drapes, and furniture? If they are dark, you want powerful illumination for functionality as much as for style. If they are light, you have more options, depending on the mood you want to create. The obvious choice is subtle, but numerous shadow techniques also exist. A soft, rotating glow can soothe you after a hard day at the office.
A massive amount of light in the morning will help you wake up. Place lamps on either side of your vanity, creating a burst of light at your eye level. Another cool new way of brightening an important room is zone lighting. Use it in your kitchen as recessed ceiling lighting, then tweak it as you see fit by increasing or reducing the wattage over time. You’ll never struggle in the dark to read a recipe again.
Lighting always affects the decor you’ve chosen for your home. The type of fixtures you choose and the wattage of the bulbs you use are only part of the lighting process. The paint in your home, the color of your furniture, and the type of mood you want all factor into how well-lit your rooms are. Using the guide above, you’ll be able to accentuate your decor in new and original ways. For more suggestions, read BuildDirect’s indoor lighting FAQ.
Any questions about matching lighting with decor? Share them in the comments section.