May 26th, 2017
Is there something about your apartment decor that just doesn’t quite seem right? Are your pictures too high? Is your color palette off? Is the furniture the wrong scale? Do you need texture? What is it? More often than not, the element that separates a room where you want to stay from one you want to leave isn’t the furniture arrangement or the color or the decorations. It’s the light. Here are some keys to making your apartment welcome you home and invite you to stay:
The general illumination you get from your ceiling fixtures is fine for making sure you can move through the room without running into anything, but it’s pretty soulless. A chair in a room like that might as well be a chair in a waiting room. But put that same chair under a circle of light cast by a lamp, and now it’s inviting. Circles of light create virtual nests. We’re drawn to the light itself, and then feel surrounded and comfortable there—a chair for reading, a desk or table for work, a corner for conversation.
Accent lighting draws the eye, elevating whatever it’s focused on the same way a spotlight tells you where to look onstage. You don’t have to have artist originals for your framed pieces to merit a clip-on picture light. A child’s painting, an advertising poster, a collage of theater programs—anything that’s important to you becomes important when you focus light on it. Or direct an uplight on an architectural plant, a fabric wall hanging, a piece of pottery, or yes, a framed picture. The effect is subtler, but will still draw the eye and elevate your entire apartment decor along with whatever object you’re highlighting.
Not all light is equal. Warm and cool lights create different moods, and the wrong light for your space will very quickly make you uncomfortable. Use this guide to get acquainted with the different types of bulbs, and then be mindful of the color of all the lampshades you choose. Stick to a consistent color (warm yellows versus cool, bright whites) in your apartment decor.
Shadows are as much a part of lighting design as light, but there are good and bad shadows. Good shadows accentuate forms or create beautiful patterns. Bad shadows hang out under your overhangs. These are the spaces under your kitchen cabinets or inside shelving units. Shadows there make your room feel smaller, with dim, useless edges. Adhesive LED strip lighting is inexpensive, and will turn your receding spaces into focal points. These new display spaces will do wonders for your apartment decor.
Reflected light doubles the impact of any light you have. A mirror opposite a window reflects not only the outside view, but it gives you natural light now coming from two directions. And reflection is not confined to just mirrors. Any shiny surface will capture light directed toward it and bounce it back or redirect it. Metal or glass in lamp bases, decorative objects, or accessory furniture will all play with light and distribute it throughout the room. If a display or zone within your apartment decor seems dull and receding, see whether a reflective object could pull it into the conversation.
When the lighting in your apartment decor is right, you’ll have a home that invites you in and makes you glad to be home.