When decorating a home, any designer worth their salt will pay attention to the colour scheme. The subtle interactions between the colours and textures of furniture and those of the surrounding walls play an important role in invoking an emotional and visceral response. There is, however, another important variable in this equation that is overlooked: lighting. Most people are content to pick out a light that they like aesthetically without considering the lighting it produces. In doing so, they deprive themselves of a valuable tool in cultivating the desired effect.
Natural Vs Artificial
Natural light, produced by the sun, has a different effect on our perception of objects under the light as well as having a less disruptive effect on our internal clocks. Artificial light, on the other hand, while undeniably useful, can easily confuse our brains.
As the sun sets and natural light decreases, our brains start producing more of a hormone called melatonin, which tells our body it is time to get ready for sleep. However, the wavelengths of light produced by phone and television screens match those produced by the sun during daylight hours. When our brains detect light within this range of wavelengths, it interprets it as daylight and the production and release of melatonin slows down or stops.
Because of this, it is inadvisable to use electronic devices while in bed and why an increasing number of phones offer a blue light filter that can be activated automatically at the right time of day. Once the sun sets, outdoor lighting fixtures can take over and in the winter months especially, a warm glow outdoors can make your home feel that bit more welcoming.
It is therefore advisable to use warm colours, such as oranges and reds, for artificial lighting. Whether you do this by choosing special bulbs for your light fixtures or by the creative use of lamp shades and similar materials is up to you. The most important thing is that you don’t end up with bright blue or white lights when evening comes around.
Mirrors, both large and small, can be incorporated into your design to reflect any natural sunlight. Mirrors can also be used to make space seem bigger and to create a focal point within a room. You don’t have to use mirrors to achieve this effect. In fact, some designers prefer to use broken bits of CDs or similar materials. Experiment and see what effects work best for you and your home.
It is worth noting where North, South, East, and West are in your home, as each direction experiences different conditions over the course of a day.
- North – artists tend to prefer north-facing studios, as they are shielded from direct sunlight and so better able to perceive colours accurately.
- East – Eastern facing rooms receive bright light first thing in the morning as the sun rises.
- South – Southern facing rooms tend to receive a steady rate of light throughout the day although there is, of course, some variation between seasons.
- West – As the sun sets in the West, it produces long shadows and soft lighting.
Lighting has an important role to play in any well-designed home, whether it’s there to produce a deliberate change in mood or atmosphere or is just there to illuminate those dark corners.