Using Lighting to Create Atmosphere and Mood!

Lighting is usually one of the least planned design elements in a home or commercial place but it has a dramatic impact on the atmosphere. Lighting can be used not only for visual comfort, but also to achieve predetermined emotional responses from the lighted environment. By manipulating the illumination levels of lighting and the color of the light in the light source, certain emotional responses can be achieved.  When using light to create a mood, it may be necessary to hide the light source and only show its effect.

lighting designs for homes in orange county, ny kates home staging

Dimly lit rooms create an atmosphere of relaxation and restfulness, while highly lit rooms are beacons for activity and alertness. A dimly lit room is conducive to warmth and intimacy while concealing architectural flaws.  A master bedroom could be setup with a dimmer to support intimacy and romance. Candlelight is an excellent source of light for a romantic dinner; the flickering flames create an atmosphere for intimacy and relaxation. The red candle light flame even flatters most individuals’ appearances, who would not want to dine by candlelight?  To create a celebratory mood, bright light and the reflection of objects helps to achieve this. A room that has brighter bulbs on, especially during the winter months, is perceived as a warmer room. 

There are basically three types of light bulbs to choose from:

1.  Incandescent light bulbs ~ these are the most common bulbs. This type of light bulb turn on immediately, can be dimmed, come in many shapes and sizes, and are inexpensive to buy. However, incandescent bulbs are usually expensive to operate and give off a warm, yellowish glow.

2.  Halogen light bulbs ~ are a form of incandescent lighting, but are more costly to buy but are more energy efficient to use. Halogen bulbs can cause burns if touched directly. Halogen bulbs do not work in standard light fixtures and require protective housing. A benefit of halogen bulbs is the bright white color they give off is the closest to natural sunlight.

3.  Fluorescent light bulbs~ have been used in homes for decades but have a slower start up than the other bulbs.  Recent improvements in fluorescent bulbs make them more favorable to home owners. This type of bulb is very efficient and uses only 25% – 35% of the energy required for a comparable incandescent bulb, but cost more than incandescent bulbs.  Flourescent light bulbs can be used in most light fixtures but some can not be dimmed.  This bulb also contains mercury, so be careful if you break one.  This bulb gives off a bluish-white light.

Lighting can be “soft” or “hard.” Soft lighting is conducive for a relaxing environment and it also will minimize harsh shadows.  Soft lighting is diffused lighting. Hard lighting is usually used for supplemental lighting and it used for tasks such as reading or working.  Each light bulb has a color temperature and color rendering index. The color temperature is the color shade, however subtle, of the light emanating from the light source. Lamps with lower color temperature will have a warmer tone than those with higher color temperatures. The color rendering index (CRI) is a measurement scale on the light’s ability to render the trueness of colors, as they would appear in natural sunlight. The scale runs from 0-100 (100 is the best). A lamp with a CRI of 80 or better will represent colors the closest to sunlight. Incandescent or halogen lamps typically have very high CRI. Color rendering will influence how you see colors in your home; if the CRI is poor the colors in your home will not be true.

GE has put together a great page on which light bulb to choose based on the room and mood you want to create, click here to take a look.

Most incandescent light bulbs can give off a yellowish glow which can seem depressing at times. By changing to daylight style light bulbs, the light in the room will be closer to that of actual sunlight. However, some people may not like these daylight bulbs as they are brighter than the incandescent bulbs.  If you want to create a cozy feeling in a room, than use an incandescent bulb. To further enhance the mood, you can go with a lower wattage bulb to keep the room a little bit darker or use a dimmer.

Bedside lighting for interior design in new york by kates home staging

Colored lighting may also be used to influence the atmosphere.  To create a warm atmosphere, use colors such as red, yellow, and orange. To create a warm atmosphere, use colors such as violet, blue, and green.  Just keep in mind, that the colors blue and blue-green are not very flattering on a person’s complexion. It is better to use a bulb that is not too rich in color as you can achieve the opposite effect that you were trying to achieve. Yellow and red can be used to create a romantic effect while white and yellow light are appropriate for formal occasions.

Using floor lamps in each room with three way bulbs can help to create intimacy when additional lighting is required. Overhead lighting will spread throughout a room and should be used to create an active mood.  To create an intimate mood, it is better to use a table or floor lamp.  The kitchen and bathroom are two rooms within the home that always requires bright lights.

 A successful lighting design will employ dimmers on various light switches so light can be adjusted for optimal mood enhancement.  It also contains ambient lighting for general illuminations with task lighting for specific activities. To achieve your desired lighting scheme in your home, lighting may need to be done in layers. With the large selection of lights available today at low costs, it is easier than ever to create the mood you are looking for.


Kate’s Home Staging and Redesign, serves the Rockland County and Orange County areas of New York and Passaic County, New Jersey.  We specialize in home staging, interior decorating, home decorating, color consultations, semi-custom window coverings, and home decor discounts.  Call Kate at 845-538-3623 for your design consultation or visit

Published by Kate

Welcome to my design blog. My name is Kate and I am the Owner/Designer at Kate's Home Staging and Redesign. I studied home staging at Home Staging Resource and Spaces School of Interior Redesign. Majoring in marketing at Fordham University and completely renovating my first home in 2003 , my design on a budget curiosity got the best of me. Kate's Home Staging and Redesign was founded in 2009. A large part of Kate's Home Staging and Redesign has been in residential home decorating, such as color consultations, furniture arrangements, space planning, window coverings selections, and more. If you live in the Orange County or Rockland County area of New York, Kate's Home Staging and Redesign is the expert home staging company you have been looking for. We will work within all budgets and can incorporate Feng Shui principles into your home design work to ensure your home is balanced and harmonious.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: