Feb 07, 14
Ever feel “not quite yourself” when there’s a lack of light, but can’t quite put your finger on it? Ever notice how your mood seems to improve when you’re in a brighter room? This isn’t your imagination. Studies have shown that light levels do in fact affect our disposition. But how does light affect your mood, and how can you adjust the lighting in your home to improve it?
Low Light = Low Mood?
As mentioned above, low light levels do indeed affect how you feel. While I won’t throw a bunch of science-y terms your way, there are a few terms you should become familiar with: melatonin and serotonin.
Melatonin also helps control weight gain.
Melatonin is vital in controlling your sleeping and waking patterns and is typically highest around bedtime, while serotonin affects many functionalities, such as sleep, appetite, memory, mood, and depression. Specifically, serotonin has a hand in affecting your happiness.
There are both psychological and physiological side effects linked to poor lighting. For example, poor light conditions can impact the amount of melatonin that’s produced, therefore creating an imbalance within your body: the more melatonin that’s produced, the levels of serotonin decrease, as more serotonin is converted to melatonin. So in poorly lit rooms, melatonin levels may be higher, which can cause you to feel depressed and drowsy.
On the contrary, higher levels of light can get your body back in balance, increasing your levels of serotonin and are sometimes even used as a therapy to alleviate common emotional issues.
In what ways can you boost the mood in your home? Does this mean you have to transform your home into the surface of the sun so you’ll be cheery all the time? Not quite. Below are a few ways to brighten things up and make the most of your new-found knowledge of serotonin and melatonin:
- Since bright light can actually give you more energy and increase alertness, it’s recommended to either dim the lights or use warmer color temperatures (2700K to 3000K) to wind down in the evenings.
- If you’re looking to boost your mood, consider switching to full spectrum light bulbs (5000K), as these types of bulbs mimic natural light. If you’re not a fan of bulbs with this color temperature, try some cool white bulbs with color temperatures between 4000K and 4100K.
- Do you like your current lineup of bulbs just the way they are and don’t want to trade them out? Try opening some blinds. The influx of natural light will have almost the same effect as the full-spectrum bulbs.
Did you put any of these tips into practice? Let us know in the comments below , or give us a shout on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn!
Feb 05, 14
With Pinterest boards galore dedicated to pictures of gorgeous kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms, it’s easy to see how smaller areas of the home like closets and pantries can be neglected when it comes to thoughtful lighting decor. Sure, a pantry might not have as much potential for glamorous renovations as a bedroom, but having good lighting in these small rooms is always helpful when it comes to organization. Not quite sure where to get started? We’ve gathered some modern lighting solutions for your small spaces to replace any antiquated bulb-and-pull-chain contraption.
LED Tape Light
A suitable solution for both pantries and closets alike, LED tape light is an effective and discreet lighting solution that is easy to install. Stuck behind door frames and under shelving in your closet (like the picture to the right), the tape light will give off a soft glow around your shelves without the tape light being visible. Added to the inside of a small pantry and all of your food will be easy to see, eliminating those minutes you spend trying to find that can of tuna buried deep in the back behind the cans of soup.
Motion Sensing LEDs
For spaces in your home that aren’t used frequently, LED motion-sensor ceiling lights are a simple and inexpensive way to add a little illumination. These circular lights are battery-operated and are incredibly easy to mount. After no motion is detected for 30 seconds, the light will turn off automatically. As someone who frequently forgets to turn off their closet light, I know how helpful motion sensitive lighting can be.
For those of you with walk-in closets and pantries that are a little more spacious, track lighting is a stylish yet versatile option. If the layout of your closet happens to change over time, the lighting can be moved along its track to adjust to the position you want. Not only is it functional, but its spotlighting effect adds a touch of drama that will highlight certain areas of your room that you want accentuated, such as your impressive shoe or handbag collection.
We can’t all have closets like Jay Gatsby or Carrie Bradshaw, but adding a touch of glamour where it fits can go a long way. If you’re lucky enough to have a spacious, walk-in closet, installing a modern light fixture in the center of the room, like a chandelier or pendant light, is a perfect way to dress up the space. Chances are if you do have enough space to put in a chandelier, you have enough room for accent lighting. Add a few recessed lights in your closet as well, so that your fixture isn’t the only source of light.
Do you have any cool closet lighting suggestions? We would love to hear about them! Leave us a comment below, or tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Jan 31, 14
Whether you’re flipping through your favorite culinary magazine or pinning to your food board on Pinterest, it’s difficult to ignore how even the simplest dishes look so appealing. So why does the food in these pictures look so appetizing? Besides the fact that you might be hungry, the next best answer is that the photographer knew how to use light. Reproducing these mouth-watering pictures can be a difficult task if lighting isn’t used correctly. Below are a few lighting tips that will make your food look just as delicious as it tastes.
Using Natural Light
Photo using warm artificial light
One of the best and most inexpensive methods for enhancing the appearance of your food is to use plenty of natural light. Whether it’s LED, incandescent, or CFL, residential lighting tends to be on the warmer end of the color spectrum and can cause pictures to have a bright orange or yellow tint without the use of a flash (like the picture to the right). In most cases, residential lights aren’t bright enough just by themselves. Photographing your food next to a sun-drenched window in your kitchen (or any other room) will give your photo a more natural appearance without distorting the colors of the dish.
Using Artificial Light
For those of you who don’t have a ton of natural light to work with, or if you happen to be shooting at night, there are ways to use artificial light to achieve the same effect. First, the trick is to use a bulb that mimics natural daylight. Full spectrum compact fluorescents are great for this, because they typically have a high color temperature of 5000K or above – about the same as natural daylight – and won’t get hot like halogen lamps. Also, be sure that they have a high lumen output, preferably well above 1000 lumens. Color Rendering Index (CRI) of the bulb is an important factor to consider as well. Keeping the CRI above 80 will help the color of your food appear as natural as possible.
Once you pick a light source, stick to it. Using two light sources with different color temperatures will cause different coloration in each part of the picture’s frame, something that’s extremely hard to fix in Photoshop. So, if you only use natural light, make sure all other lights in the room are turned off.
Manipulate the Light
In order to control and use light to your advantage, you’ll need some tools of manipulation. This is where light reflectors come in. If you’re not a professional photographer or you don’t have a ton of money to spend on lighting equipment, there are a few inexpensive solutions that will work just fine. Using a piece of strategically placed white foam board will reflect light to eliminate shadows and brighten certain areas of the dish. Tin foil and white printer paper are just a few other cheap yet incredibly effective reflecting tools you could use to bounce light back over your food.
Experiment with Angles
Once you have the details of your lighting figured out, finding the perfect angle to shoot your food is the next step. The angle at which the light is hitting the subject can be extremely important in highlighting textures and colors or masking any flaws.
One of the most common techniques in food photography is back lighting. Place your light source behind your food and the reflector to the front but still leaving enough room for you to photograph. The picture to the right is a perfect example of back lighting being used to enhance the complex textures of the food. Most importantly, it’s all about experimentation and finding the technique that’s right for you and makes your pictures look best.
Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you smartphone users. As someone who likes to post a food pic to their Instagram every now and then, I know that some lighting conditions are not always conducive to like-worthy pictures. While the lighting tips above can also be applied to smartphone users, here are a few more that might help you out.
- Don’t use the flash. As I mentioned before, natural light is the way to go. The flash on your smartphone is often way too harsh to produce a good picture. Plus, you don’t want to be that person who ruins the atmosphere of a dimly lit restaurant with their flash.
- Find good photography apps. Even if you are in moody restaurant with soft lighting, those lighting conditions can sometimes be fixed with a few adjustments using one of the many photography apps out there for smartphones. Adding filters and adjusting brightness, contrast, shadows, and saturation can make a big difference.
Have you used any of these techniques for food photography? Leave us a comment or show us your pictures on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Jan 24, 14
While outfitting your home with booby traps akin to Jason Bourne might be fun, setting up your home with a good net of security lights is easier, not to mention safer. The good news is that making your home a less appealing target is actually pretty easy. Below, we’ll throw some tips your way that will make criminals focus their attention elsewhere.
Timers: Simple and ultra-affordable, plug in timers are one of the easiest ways to protect your home. Have to work late and don’t want to come home to a dark house? Going away for a weekend to visit the in-laws, but still want your dining room lights and TV to come on as if you were there? Timers can do all that and then some. Many timers have multiple set points, like the Tork 401A, giving you the freedom to customize when your lights turn on and off, therefore increasing that “lived in” look.
Motion Activated Lights: Motion activated lights are one of the best ways to keep your home safe. They don’t need to be turned on, you can’t forget to turn them off, and they’re operational at all times. It’s important to put motion activated lights around key areas of your home, like over doors or on exterior walls that illuminate a darkened section of your home, eliminating potential hiding spots. For example, maybe you have a gate next to your garage that leads to your backyard. An outward-facing motion sensor would be great on your garage, so that when it comes on, you’ll be able to see the lights from a kitchen or bedroom window. Keep in mind that CFLs are not recommended for use with motion activated sensors, as the constant on and off will greatly shorten the life of the bulb.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your motion activated lights:
- Unless you live in a heavily guarded federal building, you don’t want the same type of lights the FBI uses for their buildings. You actually would want something that’s not overly bright, so you can actually see what’s going on. It’s also a good idea, if you can, to have your lights pointing at something that will be noticeable when the lights are activated, something like a fence. That way you’ll be able to notice when the lights are on from multiple areas in your home.
- Also, make sure to install your lights high enough where they can’t be disabled by someone on the ground and trim those bushes by your windows, to eliminate possible hiding spots.
Porch/Patio Lights: Porch lights shouldn’t only be used during Halloween to determine which houses are handing out candy. Apart from being a sign of hospitality when you have people over, the outdoor lighting fixtures you have in the front and back of your home play a crucial role in your home’s security. Ideally, there should be fixtures on either side of the door, to eliminate shadows. They should also be controlled by a photocell (a device that keeps the lights from coming on in the daytime) or timers. Avoid having lights directly overhead or behind where someone would be standing, as these placements will create harsh shadows or a silhouette effect. This setup will accomplish three things: allow you to quickly find your keys, let you know when someone passes by or is at your door, and allow you to clearly identify who’s at your door.
*When choosing the bulbs to put in your fixtures, choose bulbs that have a CRI equal to or greater than 80. The higher the CRI, colors will look richer and more vibrant. This will help identify the colors of cars, differences in skin tone, and the colors of clothes with greater accuracy.
Landscape Lighting: Looking to add a touch of sophistication to your home’s exterior and eliminate holes in your home’s net of security lighting You can accomplish both with pathway lights. Adding a few of these lights to your sidewalk will not only increase your home’s curb appeal, but will also make the journey from your car to the front door much safer. You may want to stay away from solar-powered lights, as these tend to be very dim. What about those Oak trees in your front yard, or the garden you’ve spent countless back-breaking weekends on? Light ‘em up with uplighting and landscape lighting. For uplighting, it’s important to remember to use warmer color temperatures (2400-3000K) for red tones, such as brick, as the warmer colors will bring out the color of the brick. For landscape lighting, cool color temperatures (4000-4100K) are best, as these will make foliage appear more lush and vivid. Uplighting and landscape lighting serve two functions: to display your hard work and reduce the amount of hiding places potential evil-doers have.
We’ve covered the main areas of security lighting. Are there any others we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below, or holler at us on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!
Jan 22, 14
So, you’ve just finished painting your bathroom the perfect shade of light blue that took you weeks to decide on. Washed in natural light, your bathroom looks like a calming seaside oasis. But when you turn the lights on at night, it completely loses its soothing affect. Why? Chances are the lighting you currently have installed is all wrong for your new paint colors.
The lighting we choose to use in our homes can have a huge effect on the way we perceive color because it is created by the way objects react to certain wavelengths of light. This is called metamerism. It’s the same reason why you might buy something you thought was black in the store, but in the light of day, you realize it’s actually navy blue. No color is definite or stands alone because any type of light, whether it’s natural or artificial, affects our perception. When considering what kind of artificial light source to use in your home, whether halogen, incandescent, LED, or fluorescent, it’s important to think about how it will enhance or diminish a room’s existing color scheme.
Determine Your End of the Color Spectrum
Kelvin scale and color spectrum
The first thing you’ll need to do before choosing your light source is evaluate whether or not the paint color in your room falls into the warm or cool part of the color spectrum. If your walls are painted in rich reds, yellows, and other earth tones, you would most likely need a warmer light source. If they’re painted in blues, greens, or other vibrant colors with cool undertones, a brighter, cooler light source is your best bet.
The table below describes the kind of light that is generated by each artificial light source.
||Generates a yellow light that enhances warm tones, but dulls cool tones.
||Produces a whiter light that is comparable to sunlight.
||Generally used for cool lighting applications, but is available in warm color temperatures.
||Can be used against all colors and is flexible across the color spectrum.
Warm Paint Colors
To bring out the richness and warmth of your paint color, choose fixtures and lighting that have a “warm white” color temperature between the range of 2400K and 3000K. The lower the number on the Kelvin scale, the warmer the color temperature of the light will be. Typically, the best lights to use within these color temperatures are incandescent or halogen bulbs that produce a whiter light that won’t distort color as much either way. LEDs and CFLs within the low color temperature range will work as well, but make sure they have a high enough lumen output to meet the level of brightness you’re wanting.
Cool Paint Colors
To enhance the vibrancy of cooler paint colors, you’ll want to choose lighting with a color temperature that falls between 4000K and 6000K. LEDs and CFLs within this color temperature range are called either “cool white” or “stark white.” If you were to use a light source with a low color temperature against blue or green paint, the color might appear dull and distorted.
Brightness and Color Rendering
The color temperature of a light source isn’t the only thing that affects the way we see color; brightness of the light, or lumen output, does as well. Rooms with darker colors painted on the walls tend to absorb more light than a room with light colored walls and tend to look dull if the lighting is not bright enough. The brighter the lighting, the more the true color of your walls will stand out. However, the dimness or brightness of your room and how it reacts to color is all a matter of personal preference.
Another factor to keep in mind is the color rendering index (CRI) of the light source that you’re using. Ranging from 0-100, this index determines how a light source will make a color appear to the human eye. The higher the lamp’s CRI, the better it’s color rendering capabilities. While standard incandescent lamps usually have a CRI of 100, LEDs have about 80+ CRI, and fluorescents range anywhere from 50 to 90. As this video shows below, two of the same light sources with differing CRI ratings will cause colors to appear differently in tone.
Do you have any other home lighting questions? Leave us a comment or give us a shout on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, or Pinterest!
Jan 17, 14
It’s been said that “a room is like a stage. If you see it without lighting, it can be the coldest place in the world.” We would have to agree. Having stylish décor and a great floor plan is one thing, but not having the right lighting to show it off can render it null and void. This is why, when you’re in the market to sell your home, it’s important to make any necessary lighting renovations that may help seal the deal. Not only will having a well-lit home make your space look more appealing, but potential buyers will be glad about not having to make these lighting updates themselves. Even if you’re not looking to sell your home any time soon, making these updates now could help increase your home’s value in the future. Below are a few lighting upgrades that may help you sell your home.
Artificial light can do amazing things, but sometimes there’s no substitute for the real thing. Because home buyers typically look at houses during the day, they’ll be paying close attention to the way natural light filter in throughout the space. Assess whether or not your home has a lot of natural light, and find ways to improve it. Is an overgrown tree blocking your bedroom window? Trim it! Is your couch preventing light from shining through the windows in your living room? Rearrange some furniture! Do whatever you have to do to make sure there is an abundance of natural light accentuating the beauty of your space. This will make your home feel light and airy instead of gloomy and stuffy.
If a potential home buyer knows that they’re already set up for savings thanks to energy-efficient lighting, it will earn you some serious bonus points. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs and install low-energy fixtures that won’t rack up the electricity bill each month. Check out our previous blog post for more info on how much money you can save using energy-efficient lighting.
Lutron Skylark CFL/LED Dimmer Switch
Dimming Switches and Sensors
Speaking of energy-efficiency, dimmer switches and occupancy/vacancy sensors are another good feature for your home to have. Not only do they help reduce the amount of light being used at any given time, but dimmer switches are great for giving rooms a comfortable ambiance. Occupancy and vacancy sensors are great for rooms where lights could accidentally be left on for long periods of time such as closets, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
If you haven’t done it already, installing task lighting into areas as frequently used as the kitchen is very important. Because kitchen counter tops usually have cabinets above them, they are usually not very well lit if all you have are a few overhead lights. Installing under cabinet lighting is a functional and stylish option that will give your kitchen a clean, sophisticated look. Lighting in smaller spaces such as pantries and closets will also add appeal.
Layer Your Light
When it comes to creating a truly well-lit space, only using a few overhead lights won’t do the trick. In lighting design, a room should usually have three layers of light: overhead, task, and accent lighting. Overhead lighting is usually the main source of light in the room such as a chandelier or recessed can lights. Task lighting, such as a vanity lighting over a bathroom sink, will give areas of frequent use even more brightness and clarity. For accent lighting, use anything from strategically placed wall sconces to track lighting to highlight features of the room you would like to stand out. Having these three layers will make your space look clean and bright.
Greenscape Adjustable Escort Landscape LED Path Light
For some buyers, the quality of exterior lighting can be just as important as the interior. Even though prospective home buyers may be viewing your home during the day, don’t think they won’t notice outdated fixtures flanking your entrance or, even worse, no fixtures at all. Good outdoor lighting is important for a number of safety reasons. Installing LED pathway lights or motion-activated security lights are good safety features to have. Updating any old fixtures to modern ones might not be such a bad idea either. A little curb appeal never hurt anyone.
Are there any lighting upgrades that we missed? Let us know in the comments or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest!