Lamp Chantal from Slamp

Using light effectively for your home’s interior design

So that we can feel truly at home in our own four walls, it’s important to familiarise ourselves with the different effects that light can have in different spaces before purchasing a lamp.

“Casting something in the right light”

When we talk about “casting something in the right light”, we mean presenting something favourably and making it look good. This is precisely the effect that light should have in our home. It should highlight the advantages of the space and create a pleasant mood. Nowadays the design of light has an established place in modern architecture and is closely linked to spatial planning. The renowned Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier recognised this back in 1922 when he said:

“Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light.”

When the colours and the light are adapted to the size and shape of the room, it helps to create a perfect spatial effect, to improve the sense of space and conjure up a positive atmosphere.

Arboreus luminaire from Albluxx
Arboreus luminaire from Albluxx

Using light sources to create a mood

A correctly lit room makes us feel at ease and has a positive impact on our mood and psychological well-being. The sun’s natural light is the measure of positive or negative feelings from the effect of light. It differs depending on the time of year, determines our daytime and night-time rhythm – our internal body clock – and influences our hormone production, which is ultimately what controls our mood. We can use this insight when choosing lighting, and can try to imitate light and its natural effect in our living spaces. For example, intelligent light systems can already adjust automatically to the amount of daylight in a room at the touch of a button. But even with traditional and more tried-and-tested light systems, we can achieve a harmonious effect that is balm for the soul. As a result, it makes senses to know some of the basic rules for using the right lighting.

The basic rules for optimum lighting

Before you start to ponder over suitable lighting, you should observe some basic rules for optimum lighting. Consequently, keep in mind the following properties when buying your lamps and lights:

Light colour

Light has different intrinsic colours ranging from warm white, neutral white and daylight white. The definition is based on the Kelvin value, which measures the colour temperature.

Colour rendering

The colour rendering is the natural effect that light can create. A difference is created by the spectral colours contained and distributed evenly in the light source. If these aren’t distributed evenly, the colours of the illuminated objects do not look the same as with the naked eye. Their appearance is distorted.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency expresses how much luminous flux (= lumen, lm) is created per watt, which is then expressed as lm/W (= lumens per watt). For example, halogen lamps achieve 20 lm/W, LEDs 50 lm/W, energy-saving bulbs 60 lm/W and rod-shaped fluorescent lamps roughly 90 lm/W.

Illuminance

Illuminance basically helps our eyes and determines whether our eyes see something faster or more slowly. In poor illuminance, we literally have to “look twice”. It is measured in lux (abbreviated to ‘lx’) and describes the quantity of light falling on a surface.

Option to adjust the light

Of course this is does not refer to the adjustment function itself that a light should have. Instead, it indicates that a light can be adjusted so as not to dazzle us or reflect smooth, shiny surfaces. This strains our eyes faster and reduces our concentration times when reading.

Indirect and direct light

Depending on what types of lamps are used in the room, they create different light effects and guide the light depending on their properties. For example, indirect lighting reflects the light from ceilings and walls, ensures even room lighting, does not cast many shadows and feels soft. Direct lighting, on the other hand, is when the light is directed straight into the room or onto a used surface, for example a desk lamp.

Optimum lighting for your home

Based on the basic rules of optimum lighting, we can find out how light influences our spatial awareness. If you move into a rented apartment, the architecture has already been determined. But if you build your own home, you can play a part in shaping the architecture and thus also the lighting directly. Many companies have specialised in lighting designs and can assist you in planning well-executed lighting. It also makes sense to think about the best distribution of the different light sources needed and the location of sockets at an early stage in order to avoid disappointment later, for example because you have to run unsightly cables across the room.

Lamp Omi
Lamp Omi

The right lighting for a better mood

If the architecture of the rooms has already been determined, like for example in a rented apartment, you should look intensively at the make-up of the rooms. To make the best possible use of the effect of light in the rooms, look at each room individually and consider its size and the ceiling height.

In this case, the lighting has to follow the architecture, and you should familiarise yourself with the circumstances of the rooms before you decide on the best lighting. It is especially important that the light used creates harmonious proportions in the room. The colours used in the room play a major role in this. Together with the lighting, the colours used for the walls and ceilings have a huge impact on the effect of the room that should not be underestimated. This means that the road to good lighting already starts when you paint the ceilings or wallpaper the walls.

Using the effect of colour spectrums

In combination with the right wall and ceiling colours, you can achieve the best spatial impact once you are familiar with the effect that different colours have. As soon as the human eye perceives the different colours, mood-lifting substances are released in the body that automatically trigger a sense of well-being. Calming, warm colours are suitable for a harmonious and cosy atmosphere, for example in a living room. These colours are between red and yellow on the colour spectrum. Examples that you could use include light yellow, coral, peach or orange. By contrast, cooler or cold colours can be chosen for the kitchen to create a feeling of freshness. The cold colour range is dominated by the colour blue. Cold colours such as pale blue, pastel green and lavender are also recommended for the bedroom. If you feel like experimenting a little, you should use the colours mint green and sage green for a more nuanced look. Traditionally, warm colours are not often used for the bedroom, but they can be equally cosy and very stylish as long as they are not too overpowering.

Dark and more powerful hues

T+T Pendant light from Dark
T+T Pendant light from Dark
Darker and more powerful colour tones make a room appear smaller. The reason for this is because the walls “swallow up” the light, and very little light is reflected from the walls back into the room. For example, light wooden panelling reflects only 35% of the light back into the room, while the white walls reflect a huge 85%. Darker rooms thus automatically appear more constricted, because the darker colours appear closer. That’s why when buying a lamp for darker rooms, it’s important to focus on the colour rendition of the lamp in order to maintain a natural feeling of space. For living areas, the colour rendition index of a lamp should be at least Ra = 80. If you want to find out more about the effect of colours, we recommend our article “The power of colours“.

Using the effect of light sources

In small rooms

Light colours on walls and ceilings are particularly suitable for smaller rooms, because they make the room automatically appear larger than it actually is. The floor can be kept a dark colour for contrast without restricting the feeling of space in the room. The better light reflections achieved with lighter walls mean that you can also use lamps with a lower wattage. Despite the lower watts, they will create the same level of brightness of a comparable lamp with more watts. Light cream or pastel colours are suitable, for example.

For more room height

To make a room appear larger than its actual size, the walls and ceilings do not necessarily have to be in the same light colour tones. It’s good to have the colour tone on the ceiling somewhat lighter than that of the walls. This opens up the room upward and gives it the illusion of more height. It is best to use indirect light, for example from uplights or wall lights that project the light onto the upper part of the wall, making the ceiling appear higher. If the only lamp is hanging in the middle of the room, the desired effect of a room that appears larger cannot be achieved, and this makes the room look smaller. Instead, use cable or rail systems to distribute the light around the whole room, right into the corners and everywhere it is needed. An even distribution of light can be additionally supported through the use of LEDs. Last but not least, we recommend combining several light sources.

Or: Using light to make high ceilings appear lower

If you already have rooms with high ceilings, as is often the case with apartments in old buildings, you should keep the walls in a lighter colour than the ceiling. This makes the ceiling appear lower and opens it up to the sides. As basic lighting, use a lamp that projects the light onto the side walls.

For more spatial depth

An open and generously dimensioned room works well with warm and dramatic colours that break up the space and stand out visually. By contrast, light and cool colours retreat into the background and make the room appear larger. The best lighting is created using individual lamps that disperse the light widely, interspersed with brighter light zones that bundle the light and accentuate pictures for example. Halogen lamps quickly attract your eye, making them suitable for highlighting parts of the room. However, they use more energy than LEDs. The combination of dimmable basic lighting with different light sources such as floor lamps, table lamps and wall lamps creates a wonderful dramatic effect in the room that allows you to play with the atmosphere.

In relation to this topic, we also recommend our article “Lighting for a pleasant ambience”.

Posted on 20.06.2017

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