Room Lighting Design
How to light your rooms to make them feel warm.
This article was published , which makes this post and me old when I published it.
It took an estimated to develop this article from conception to publishing.
There are 1124 words in this article, and it will probably take you less than 6 minutes to read it.
If you are going for a cozy vibe in your room, apartment, or house, I think that the main way that this is achieved is through lighting. You have to carefully design the lighting in your rooms to be soft and illuminating so that people are soothed, but still have enough light to do their tasks like read or watch TV.
Everyone says that you should “never turn on the big light,” which is to say not to use overhead lighting. I always thought that this was kind of silly and un-nuanced. I think that the reason that this is said is because usually they have a light bulb that produces a lot of harsh light, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Color temperature for lighting describes the kind of white that is being produced with 2700K being a warm white (kinda yellow-ish) and it getting more cool (blue-ish) and bright (harsh in my opinion). There are smart bulbs that have tunable color temperatures, meaning that you can change the color temperature to fit the occasion. I think that is perfectly conceivable to replace the overhead lighting with a warm or tunable bulb to make the light feel less harsh. If bulb replacement is not an option, then I understand the urge to never turn it on, but I think that there are options before you get to that point.
I’ve spoken about color temperature, but the other important metric is lumens, which is the amount of luminescence (light) that is being produced. I think that 600+ lumens is a good amount for a light bulb to produce. There are guides for how many lumens a room should have, so this general rule might breakdown depending on your room size and the other lights that you have in it. Color temperature is different than colored light bulbs, but such lights are quite popular, especially color changing smart lights. I think that they are kind of overrated and I’ve never really found the occasion for it, but your mileage may vary.
Smart lights are the only way to go if you’re going to have more than one or two lights in a room, I use Govee and have liked their bulbs and had no issue. Govee is a good brand for all kinds of lighting, but you can find all kinds of different companies on Amazon. With Amazon Alexa and most smart home systems, you can tag a light to a specific room so you can use a single command (via voice or however) to turn on and off all the lights in one room quickly. I prefer smart bulbs over smart plugs because they have an off transition and they can also be dimmable. Dimmable lights are really nice because you can adjust the amount of light depending on the time of day. I have presets for 10% for night, 50% for afternoon, and 100% if I really need it.
There are so many different types of lamps out there that I couldn’t possibly cover them all, but I will briefly talk about some of my favorite types of lamps.
- I think that shelf floor lamps are a great way to have light and storage. A cool side effect of having a light and shelf combined is that the light will illuminate the top shelf that is under the light, which is great if you want to display something that is special to you. I have this lamp from Target which has treated me well.
- 3D printed lamps is a cool space right now that is currently developing. A lot of them are made from a plant-based polymer to reduce plastic usage, which is great for sustainability. 3D printing also just allows for a lot more possibilities in terms of shapes compared to conventional manufacturing processes. Wooj was the first company that I heard about in this space, but I have been really liking Honey & Ivy recently.
- Rice paper lamp shades as found in Japanese design are so beautiful, but can be very expensive. The most well known brand in this niche is probably Noguchi. However, I think that Ikea has some great budget options for rice paper as well.
- I think that task lighting like reading lamps with adjustable heights are really cool, but I think the ones with super large arms are kind of weird and unwieldy.
If you want to have a cohesive theme in your room or symmetry, then I would advise getting a couple of the same types/models of lamps, but otherwise I would suggest mixing and matching lamps. Getting lamps with different body or shade materials gives your room a lot of visual interest. Especially with shades, the light diffusion will change giving the light different qualities. Additionally, placing lamps at varying heights adds more texture and variation to the room.
LED light strips have been all the rage recently and I think that when used correctly they are cool, but in my opinion, I do not think that they automatically bring value to a space. LED light strips do add a lot of mood to a space and are a great option if you want to add lighting to a room but don’t have much space to put a light. However, I think that more often than not LED strips, especially color changing ones, end up looking a bit tacky.
Something that I have been seeing more of are LED light strips being used as TV backlighting, which supposedly has many benefits. I think that having a nice warm light behind the TV is a great idea, but a lot of light strips for TVs are sold with the ability to sync the colors to the TV colors. This is great in theory, and initially drew me in, but then when I had it set up I realized that the colors changed a lot and became really distracting quite quickly. Additionally, the color syncing capability is really expensive, so I would say just to try to find a 2700K LED strip or a tunable white LED strip because colored LEDs trying to make white vs a white LED is very different.
For TV backlighting I use this tunable white LED strip which is fairly cheap and has Alexa compatibility, two of the main things that I was looking for. I don’t really like the app because it doesn’t really have a clear indicator of color temperature, you just have to pick a color. I went for the warmest white possible, so I think that I am getting 2700K, but there isn’t really any way of knowing.