5 Tips for a Home Lighting Makeover

I usually work in theatres, but I bring my work home with me every time I turn on the lights. Luckily, it isn’t hard to live like a lighting designer. Here are five easy tips to get better lighting—no electrician required.


There’s a whole world of lighting between “off” and “on.” Get control of intensity by swapping out the standard switch for a dimmer. Now you’ve got access to the amount of light that feels right for any time of day, weather, or season. Anyone can install a dimmer switch without much more than a screwdriver; just make sure to turn off the circuit breaker first!


It seems like LEDs are everywhere now, but let’s recap their benefits: they save energy, last longer, and do all sorts of neat tricks. For the record, LEDs are “light-emitting diodes” —essentially circuit boards with lights. Opt for dimmable ones labeled full spectrum or with a CRI of 90+. Other info you’ll find on the box: light output measured in lumens and color temperature measured in degrees Kelvin—a 2700K light is yellow-orange and a 6000K light is cool blue, with all sorts of variations on “white” in between (more on that here). Quality LEDs cost a little more than their old incandescent or fluorescent counterparts but trust me, they’re worth it.


I prefer natural light whenever possible: nuclear fireballs just make the best light. When there isn’t enough natural light to go around, supplement with interior lighting that’s connected to the time of day. Cooler, overhead lights create a sense of sky and space during the day, but human beings are wired for the colors of fire at night. As sundown approaches, switch over to warm lamps for a cozy, intimate space.


Smart homes are here—and they’re easy. Just swap out a bulb to be able to control it from your phone. Once your lights are connected, Alexa might be kind enough to turn them on when you ask. Feel like a party? Some bulbs play music and change colors. Even better, imagine ignoring your lights most of the time: they can turn on when you come home, shift to bedtime mode at night, and autoplay vacation settings when you’re gone.


You’re not stuck with whatever lighting came with your house or apartment—it’s all editable! You may not be able to go full-renovation, but there are plenty of ways to personalize your lighting. Spend a lot of time chopping vegetables? Try under-cabinet task lighting. Like reading in bed without disturbing your partner? A gooseneck lamp near your headboard should do the trick. The point is to consider how you use your space and how you want it to feel. When in doubt, turn off all the lights and add them back one by one.

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