Set the Mood With Light

Lighting does so much more than provide illumination. Designers know that it can be used to change the whole look and feel of a room.

Think about how you want each room to feel when you walk in. Active or intimate? Inspiring or dramatic? The types of lighting, their placement in the room – even the type of bulb used – all affect the room’s atmosphere.

These tips from lighting expert Mary Beth Gotti can help you create just the right mood.


If kicking back in fuzzy slippers and relaxing with a good book is appealing, create a cozy atmosphere.

  • Highlight the seating area with ambient lighting, and focus track lights on centerpieces. This draws the eye to the central glow.
  • Use lighting that emits a soft, warm glow, such as GE Energy Smart and Soft White bulbs.
  • Incorporate lamps for reading. A reading lamp should be tall enough to shine onto the pages of the book, but not into the reader’s eyes. A floor lamp positioned behind the reader is ideal.
  • Torchieres and wall sconces create a warm glow in living rooms and other spaces.  A working fireplace adds to the feeling of comfort.
  • Light pictures from above using a ceiling spotlight.


To create a motivating environment that maximizes productivity:

  • Use bright general overhead, or ambient, lighting along with focused task lighting for work areas.
  • Recessed downlights can effectively light countertops and other work surfaces in kitchens.
  • Under-the-counter lighting also provides great task illumination in kitchens.


Make guests feel right at home with a warm and welcoming environment.

  • Outside, keep a well-lit walkway. This directs visitors to the entrance and makes them feel at ease. Using bulbs such as GE Energy Smart Outdoor Floodlights can put welcoming light wherever it’s needed.
  • Inside, gentle ambient light makes people feel comfortable. For added relaxation, illuminate the walls and the ceiling to avoid menacing shadows.
  • Utilize accent lighting to showcase an interesting object. This arouses guests’ anticipation of the rest of the house, urging them forward.


To create a romantic room that will leave you starry-eyed:

  • Avoid overhead lighting – it can cause a harsh glare.
  • Add dimmer switches to give versatility to lighting fixtures.
  • Use a variety of lamps to create a comfortable glow; use shades with warm or dark colors.

Get more tips on designing with light at

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One Response

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  1. Delmar Baze
    Mar 11, 2010 - 07:38 AM

    Uplighting is less common, often used to bounce indirect light off the ceiling and back down. It is commonly used in lighting applications that require minimal glare and uniform general illuminance levels. Uplighting (indirect) uses a diffuse surface to reflect light in a space and can minimize disabling glare on computer displays and other dark glossy surfaces. It gives a more uniform presentation of the light output in operation. However indirect lighting is completely reliant upon the reflectance value of the surface. While indirect lighting can create a diffused and shadow free light effect it can be regarded as an uneconomical lighting principal.


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