Properly lit rooms not only decrease glare, eyestrain and falls; they help you feel better overall.
“Our brains and bodies contain circuitry that allows the light around us to change our moods, the rhythms of our stress response and the way our immune cells fight infection,” says Esther Sternberg, MD, rheumatologist, director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Rockville, Md.
To be more comfortable in your own home, Randall Whitehead, a San-Francisco-based architectural lighting designer, says light should come from several sources.
• Task lighting. This includes under-cabinet and pantry lights in the kitchen, and lamps next to a chair or the bed. Ideally, light should emanate from the side and be directed toward the task, because an overhead light can create a shadow the task below.
• Accent lighting. This includes pendant lights over the breakfast or dining table, and recessed or track lights directed toward art and plants. The interiors you see in magazines are usually lit entirely with accent lights, which focus attention on the objects in the space. However, Whitehead cautions, “too much accent lighting makes people look awful.”
• Ambient lighting. The best sources allow light to bounce off the ceiling, as torchieres do, or have semi-translucent shades. This is the most pleasing light for everyday living; it softens shadows on people’s faces and creates a warm atmosphere. Ambient lighting as the only source of light, however, gives everything in the room the same value and creates