6 Design Tips for Better-Lit Rooms
How to make your rooms cheery and bright even in the dead of winter
The fewer hours of daylight in winter can leave a space with good sun exposure feeling a bit dim—and they're certainly no boon to ones that receive little or no natural light. Here, advice from interior design pro Michael Murphy of Lamps Plus on how to harness light for brighter rooms.
If you can only add one source of light, make it big enough to fill the room, says Murphy. The rule of thumb for overhead fixtures: Take the dimensions of the room (say, 10 feet by 10 feet), add them together (so, 20 feet), and switch that number to inches (20 inches). The result is the ideal diameter for your ceiling fixture.
To bring on brightness where it's needed, add plenty of task lighting. In offices and living rooms, this means using floor or table lamps; in kitchens or baths, task lights often take the form of pendants or recessed lighting. In small spaces, recessed lighting can be preferable to pendant lighting because it takes up less visual space, making the room look larger.
"People often overlook the corners of the room," Murphy says. "Leaving those dark can make the room feel smaller." Placing a floor or table lamp there can help concentrate light in these dim recesses, casting a glow on the ceiling and making the space feel bigger and brighter.
Ideal brightness—measured in lumens—will vary based on the space you're lighting. For overhead fixtures, look for bright 800-lumen bulbs; for accent lights, aim for a dimmer 450 to 800 lumens per bulb. Be sure to consider the color temperature, too, which is measured on the Kelvin scale. Incandescent bulbs reside at the lower end—up to 2900K—so they'll provide a soft, warm yellowish glow. LED bulbs within the 3500K to 4100K range offer neutral bright-white light. If you're looking for a bulb that simulates daylight, go for one with a color temperature of 5000K or higher.