One of the most important but commonly overlooked features of any space is lighting. For most of us, lighting is purely about function. It helps us see and find our way. But lighting also sets the mood and makes a space more inviting. For example, soft light from a bedside lamp feels more comforting than a bright ceiling light. On the other hand, bright overhead lights in a small bathroom create an illusion of space and make the room seem less suffocating. Lights are also used to create a specific mood, from romantic to energetic. Lighting affects emotions also.
Lighting is a lot like the sun. When we are exposed to sunlight, we tend to feel more optimistic and cheerful. Minimal exposure to light can make us gloomy and depressed. In the same way, interior lighting affects our mood and emotions. However, despite the various uses of lighting, we often restrict ourselves to thinking that lights are purely functional. Even while serving their purpose, lights can be a source of elegance in any space and a low-cost way to change the mood or design of any place.
The Evolution of Lighting
The light bulb was invented not by Thomas Edison, but by British inventor Joseph Swan. Even before that, lighting was invented by the ancient man along with the invention of fire. In those days, lighting mainly consisted of campfires and torches. Animal or vegetable fat was used as fuel and greased onto a fiber wick. Lamps made of rocks shells and stones filled with oil and had a wick. These were used for lighting up the interior of the cave. Chandeliers also thought to be an important part of primitive lighting. Hundreds of primitive stone lamps have been found in the Lascaux caves in France, dating back to nearly 40,000 BCE. However, in those times, lights were used only for illumination. After the invention of fire, it became easier for men to see after sundown and to keep wild animals away. The invention of fire also allowed man to start cooking food. Instead of eating game raw, they could now grill or smoke it over an open flame. This also brought more taste and flavor to food.
Design lighting came about in the 1800s when lights were designed to fit the architecture of the space. Gas streetlights, which are still used today, were the first kinds to illuminate the outdoors. Aside from designing artificial lights, people also learned to create windows that not only let in natural light but also enhanced existing light conditions. One of the best examples of this is the Pantheon, the historical architecture of the Roman Empire. The famous dome of this ancient Roman temple is the hole at the top, which lets in an abundance of natural light. At first glance, the hole almost looks like a light bulb. Such clever use of lighting started in the 1800s, with various architectural designs of the time boasting of incredible light play.
Light and Emotions
Although we don’t often realize it, lighting can have a significant impact on our emotions. A case in point is the feeling of happiness on sunny days or feeling more creative when the lights are dimmed. It isn’t just the sun that affects our mood and emotions. Artificial lighting also has the same effect. The different kinds of light we are exposed to every day can have a significant influence on our emotions and wellbeing. For instance, bright lights heighten both positive and negative emotions. Bright lights – natural and artificial – are associated with intense emotions, energy, and aggression. Both positive and negative emotions are felt strongly under bright lighting. An optimistic person will feel more cheerful, and a depressed person will feel gloomier under bright lighting conditions.
One type of light that is closely associated with sleep is blue light, including all the backlit devices we use throughout the day. Any kind of blue light blocks the production of melatonin and makes it hard to fall or stay asleep. That’s the reason why using backlit devices is linked to sleep disorders and insomnia. Having a blue night lamp is equally harmful to melatonin production. Ever wondered why the lights at a restaurant are soft and dim? That’s because, under soft lights, people are less alert and more relaxed, they eat slower and less, and are also less concerned about how certain calorific foods are. Under the soft lights of a restaurant, you feel relaxed and laid-back, and happily order and eat foods that could be unhealthy. Lighting conditions also affect the way things taste. It has been found in a study that certain lighting conditions make people love one wine more because of the way the light affected the color of the drink.
Importance of Room Lighting
When buying or building a house, lighting isn’t what is considered first. It’s usually thought-about when the construction is complete. As overlooked as it is, lighting is one of the most important aspects of interior design. Not only are lights used for functionality, but they are also used for enhancing the aesthetic appeal of any space. The various kinds of lights available today – from accent lights to chandeliers – are designed to increase the beauty and elegance of a space and make the place more inviting for both the residents and guests. Lighting should also be used according to space. If space requires bright lights, then soft night lamps aren’t ideal. If space is meant for relaxation, then bright lights can hurt the eyes. Bright white lights are usually the harshest. Although they illuminate a space well, they are harsh on the eyes and add nothing to the aesthetic of the space. Instead, softer yellow lights are more soothing.
For instance, the kitchen is where you need good light conditions. The kitchen is usually the gathering spot in most homes, where important activities like cooking, eating, and washing takes place. You would need the type of lights that are both functional and elegant for the kitchen. Recessed can lights, also called ceiling lights, are used to illuminate the entire kitchen. But other kinds of lights are used to illuminate different parts of the kitchen. You would need a light over the sink to be able to better see what you are washing. You could also hang pendant lights over the kitchen island because that’s where the eating takes place. Under-counter lights are great because they help you see when you’re cutting or chopping.
Next comes the bedroom. This is where you are supposed to relax and sleep, so bright recessed can lights are not necessary. On the contrary, bright overhead lights can be harsh on the eyes when you’re lying in bed. A light fixture like a chandelier, or a fan-light combination is usually enough for a bedroom. You can also put lamps or reading lights on bedside tables. If you work in the bedroom, make sure the light from the table doesn’t spread all the way to the bed. Having bright lights in the bedroom has been found to hinder melatonin production and delay sleep onset. Keep bright lights out of the bedroom and invest in soft, soothing lights that illuminate the space without being harsh. The bathroom is where you need proper lighting, because you use the space for activities like shaving, putting on makeup, and getting dressed. The bathroom is also used for relaxing in the bath, so you should include both soft and bright lights. The softer lights are for when you are relaxing, and the brighter lights are for seeing better.
What about the closet? If you have a walk-in closet, it’s often hard to incorporate a window in there. That’s why proper lights are required to make sure that you are able to locate things inside. Closet lights can be in the form of recessed can lighting or pendant lights. Motion sensor lights are also incredible for use in a closet. This eliminates the need to turn the lights on or off every time you open or close the closet door. You can also use pendant lights, accent lights, lanterns, chandeliers, garden torches, and in-ground lights to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your house. But while choosing design lights, it’s also important to consider that lights can affect your mood and your sleep.
It is wise to keep bright lights away from places that are meant for relaxation and sleep. The bedrooms, lounge, balcony, patio are some of those places where soft, soothing lights should be used. Not only do bright lights seem harsh when you’re trying to relax, but they also hinder melatonin production. It’s also necessary to avoid blue lights. Even when you install night lights, make sure they are not blue in color. Sleeping blue light has also been found to increase the risk of cancer. Lights are more than just functional. Follow these guidelines to install the right lighting that both illuminates and enhances mood.