Lighting tricks that will make small rooms feel gigantic

Like millions of people in this country, I live in a small apartment and am constantly on the hunt for ways to trick my brain into believing it’s bigger than it is. In my search, I’ve found one of the best ways to do this is by manipulating the lighting. Unfortunately, most residential apartments come with unappealing built-in lighting that will allow you to navigate the space without bumping into things, but serve no aesthetic benefit. Luckily, fixing it doesn’t require smart bulbs or specialized equipment, just an understanding of a few basic principles.

© Austin Wehrwein / Unsplash Lighting can change how you feel about any room.

Contrasts between light and dark over a distance, no matter how short, increase perception of depth. This phenomenon is an optical illusion, one that’s well illustrated in this study, where the addition of a contrasting light source partway down one of two otherwise identical hallways caused participants to perceive objects in the unevenly lit space as being farther away.

Uniform, even light makes you feel constrained. The most common example of flattening light in residential contexts is the ubiquitous “boob light,” usually placed in the middle of the ceiling and equipped with a strong bulb. This fixture casts a relatively even glow on the floor, walls, and ceiling, minimizing contrast between them. While this is great for finding smudges on the paint, it’s terrible for emphasizing the distance between the walls.

Before you try to make light do what you want it to do, you’ll need to understand how it works, and the most important principle here is the inverse square law. There’s a formula for it, but you don’t need the math, just the concept: light intensity decreases by half whenever the distance from the source doubles. To put it plainly, if you’re looking at someone standing in front of a wall, the wall will seem closer if a distant bright bulb is illuminating both the person and the wall at the same intensity—the boob light effect. If you replace that light with a lowered pendant fixture, dimmer and closer to them, the diminishing light between the person and the wall will increase the perceived separation. An additional benefit of a pendant lamp is that the ceiling will fade into the dark, giving the illusion of taller walls.

Of course, while you want some contrast between that person and the wall, you don’t want only the center of a room to be lit. This will shroud your walls in complete darkness, a move usually reserved for haunted houses. Instead, you want to define the edges of your space. However, small spaces with brightly lit walls just call attention to how cramped they are. You want to clearly establish the boundaries of the space, but avoid emphasizing them. Low-intensity lights placed right next to the wall will prevent the haunted house problem—a well-located floor or table lamp will illuminate a wall while allowing enough visible fading of light over distance to make the wall seem bigger than it really is.

[Related: How to reduce light pollution in your area]

Now, what should you illuminate in the center of the room to give enough contrast to emphasize depth? In every space, choose a highlight point—usually an area that actually requires brighter light to function effectively. I used to live in a railroad apartment where the kitchen, dining room, and living room were all one room. I kept the kitchen work surfaces nice and bright, as well as the dining table. I’m a fan of “hot tabletops,” wherein you light a surface brightly enough that it bounces and diffuses ambient light into the surrounding area. The hot tabletop method is great for work surfaces and anywhere people congregate, as the light bouncing off the table will illuminate anyone around. I have a couple of these spotlight strips adhered to my ceiling to achieve this effect in various places.

In almost all other situations, lower-intensity lights will work best. A very bright light, while still subject to the inverse square law, will not provide enough contrast as its intensity falls off as a dimmer light would. You are looking for contrasts of light and shadow, not contrasts of extremely bright and slightly less bright. It’s easy to think that brighter spaces would always seem bigger, but anybody who’s been in a theater when the lights turn back on after the show has seen that this is not the case. There’s one bright light that’s unavoidable, though, and you’ll have to learn to work with it.

The sun is the brightest, farthest light any of us have to deal with on a regular basis. Luckily, we have curtains. Anything that diffuses a strong, distant light source can effectively be considered a light source in itself. Unobstructed sunlight is at identical intensity wherever it hits, but as soon as it hits the diffusion of a curtain or the reflection off a turned Venetian blind, the softened glow coming through begins to fade over distance like any other light source. Sunlight is so intense that it can bounce and diffuse several times over within a room while still staying bright enough to add to the overall illumination of the space. 

Except for work surfaces, all high-intensity light intentionally placed within a space should aspire to be as diffuse and indirect as the sun through curtains. Strong, direct lights create hard-edged, abrupt shadows. Point strong light sources into corners, towards ceilings, or splashing up walls to give them the opportunity to soften as they bounce around the room.

You can also create distinct spaces within a room by using pools of light of different color temperatures: warm, cold and neutral. Colder, bluer light encourages wakefulness and alertness, as it is closer in tone to sunlight, and is suitable for work areas. The night shift, or f.lux, feature on phones and computers that makes screen colors warmer after sunset works on this principle. Bluish bulbs are usually marketed as “cool white.” Warmer, redder colors are more appropriate for relaxation areas. The redder the light, the less effect it has on your circadian rhythms, and the easier it is to sleep after exposure to it. For areas that serve double duty, such as a home office tucked in the corner of a bedroom, LED light strips that change color temperatures will allow you to change the light to fit the occasion.

Within my large multipurpose kitchen-dining-living room, I had cold lights on the kitchen work surfaces, warmer light on the dining table, and the warmest light in the living area. Not only did I delineate the spaces through pools of light of different colors, I made myself sleepier as I walked closer to the bedroom. I discourage mixing color temperatures within an area because, in the most technical terms, it looks bad. 

Luckily, optical illusions still fool the eye even when you know how they work. With these basic principles, you can now trick your brain into perceiving your home as bigger than it actually is.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

WhatsApp will stop working on these phones from next week

© WhatsApp on iPhone Messaging app WhatsApp will stop working on thousands of phones from 1 November. Some 43 different phone models will be affected as the Facebook-owned app changes ... Read more »

It's National First Responders Day: Here are 30+ retailers that give discounts to first responders

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. The old adage “not all heroes wear capes” has certainly rung ... Read more »

10 Ways To Alleviate Tech Neck, According To Experts

(Photo: Luis Alvarez via Getty Images) In a digital age where you use your tablet for games, your laptop for virtual meetings and your phone for emails, it’s safe to ... Read more »

A nasal COVID-19 vaccine could be the solution to ending the pandemic, experts say, and early trial data looks promising

Meissa is developing a nasal vaccine against COVID-19. But, it’s still in the earliest phase of human testing. Meissa Vaccines COVID-19 vaccines are great at preventing severe illnesses and death. ... Read more »

NHL on ESPN Plus: what ice hockey can I watch and how much does it cost?

Sending a bottle rocket into the world of ice hockey broadcasting, it’s all change for the 2021/22 season with streaming service ESPN Plus making a play to NHL fans in ... Read more »

Skills shortage could undo UK government's net zero plans

Ildiko Grant/Shutterstock The UK government has set out its plans for reaching net zero emissions. This target, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson says will be met by 2050, is a ... Read more »

Inspiration from the 1970s for Generation Z's environmentalists

Allotments were popular in the 1970s and are now busy again. Air Images/Shutterstock Cult 1970s BBC TV show The Good Life examined Tom and Barbara Good’s experience of attempting to ... Read more »

Op-ed: How the US can finally close the cyber workforce gap

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 25: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting about cybersecurity in the East Room of the White House on August 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. ... Read more »

An analysis of what would happen if Elon's tax dollars were spent on public transport'

It must be hard being Elon Musk. Yep, everyone’s favourite Space Karen is crying into his Giga bier and fiddling with his flame thrower in angst. He’s aimed his ire at a proposal ... Read more »

One million WordPress sites at risk of attack

Cybersecurity researchers have helped patch several vulnerabilities in an extremely popular WordPress plugin, which could have been exploited by any visitor to undertake a number of actions against affected WordPress ... Read more »

Tender hug between elderly couple reunited after 100 days apart in hospital – 'I'll always be there for him'

George and Joyce Bell have been reunited after spending 100 days apart. (Reach) An elderly couple who have been married for 66 years have shared an emotional reunion after spending ... Read more »

Even your ‘good' decisions might be bad — so learn to rectify them

Boris is the wise ol’ founder of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can ... Read more »

Apple rolls out iOS 15.2 beta with new features: Everything you need to know

Apple recently rolled out iOS 15.1 which is the first major update for the new operating system. Now, the company has released the first public beta of iOS 15.2 for ... Read more »

French wine and German robots: Why Chinese companies are investing big in Europe

In recent years, Chinese companies have been substantially increasing their investments in the European Union. From the of Bordeaux to manufacturers in Germany and machinery makers in Italy, these companies ... Read more »

How your genes influence whether a certain type of exercise works for you – new research

Some people may adapt to certain types of exercises more quickly than others. NDAB Creativity/ Shutterstock Genetics have a significant influence on many aspects of our life – from our ... Read more »

Here are the EE Pocket-lint Awards nominees for Best Laptop 2021 and how to vote

© Provided by Pocket-lint Here are the EE Pocket-lint Awards nominees for Best Laptop 2021 and how to vote photo 1 (Pocket-lint) – It’s that time of year again where ... Read more »

Best cheap headphones 2021: budget wired and bluetooth headphones

You can spend hundreds – even thousands – on a new pair of headphones, and in some cases that’s entirely justifiable. But you can still get satisfyingly great results from ... Read more »

Nvidia GeForce Now RTX 3080-powered membership opens for pre-orders

Nvidia GeForce Now just took a big step forward, and now all gamers out there can pre-order its recently revealed new top-tier streaming service. Previously, the RTX 3080 subscription was ... Read more »

Actor Ioan Gruffudd appears to confirm new romance

Ioan Gruffudd has appeared to confirm his new romance with fellow actor Bianca Wallace amid his divorce. The 48-year-old, from Aberdare in Wales, shared a photo of them sat together ... Read more »

Meituan makes strategic shift with Amazon-style special team to fit China's new regulatory reality, report says

Meituan has decided to shift its strategic focus to “retailing plus technology” from “food plus platform” in a major change of business direction, as China’s largest on-demand delivery services provider ... Read more »

The $15 Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is a super-powerful successor

Nearly six years after the launch of the miniscule Raspberry Pi Zero, its makers have launched its successor, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. A couple of years after introducing ... Read more »

Mercedes adds 31-speaker Dolby Atmos system to cars for a 'concert hall on wheels'

Mercedes-Benz has spent nearly a century establishing itself as one of the most exclusive names in the auto industry – but the brand is preparing to turn up the volume ... Read more »

France still holding British fishing boat and risks breaking Brexit trade deal, says UK

George Eustice, the UK environment secretary (UK Parliament) The British government has warned France that it risks breaking the Brexit trade deal, as Emmanuel Macron's government continues to detain a ... Read more »

Futu, Tiger Brokers fall sharply as Chinese central banker warns on offshore trading by online brokers

US-listed brokers Futu Holdings and Tiger Brokers fell sharply in pre-market trading on Thursday after a top Chinese central bank official warned online brokers who offer cross-border trades to mainland ... Read more »

Jump to it: London inventor's Zero G device to ‘solve' astronaut fitness

John Kennett on the test flight A London inventor’s “jumping machine” designed to help astronauts counter the effect zero gravity has on their bodies has been successfully tested. The High ... Read more »

Relying on a single cloud provider is hella risky — here's a smarter strategy

On 4th October 2021, millions of unsuspecting online users were surprised when a sudden internet blackout shut Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Whatsapp down. The six-hour outage left many people without ... Read more »

Another crypto marketplace has been hit by a major cyberattack

Hackers have stolen about $130 million worth of cryptocurrency assets from Cream Finance, by exploiting a bug in their flash loaning system to siphon away all Ethereum-based tokens on the ... Read more »

Lost hiker ignoring rescue calls is relatably Gen Z

(Natasha Pszenicki) Picture the scene: you’re stuck up a mountain with no one in sight, miles from civilisation, the snow is falling thick and fast. Your phone starts to ring ... Read more »

Kent Zoom cordless vacuum cleaner launched at Rs 9,950

Kent has launched Zoom vacuum cleaner at Rs 9,950. The product is available for purchase in the market and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart. According to the company, ... Read more »

Is Biden blocking the JFK assassination files over hidden bombshells?

It’s been 57 years, 11 months, and five days since a sniper’s bullet consigned President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to the history books as the fourth American head of state to ... Read more »

The Facebook Papers: all the major revelations in a handy list

Facebook has had many bad days and months, but the company is facing yet enough public disgrace. Everyone’s talking about Facebook Papers, and we’re here to summarize it for you, ... Read more »

Flipkart Big Diwali Sale, Amazon Great Indian Festival: Check out the best deals on smart TVs

As we head into November, both Amazon and Flipkart are still holding sales across several product categories. Amazon’s Great Indian Festival will end on November 2, while Flipkart’s Big Diwali ... Read more »

Xbox series X stock - live: Box restock is available now – how to get the console

LIVE – Updated at 12:54 © iStock/The Independent xbox IB2 Update: The Xbox series X is in stock at Box as part of a premium bundle of other gaming accessories. ... Read more »

Algae, mushrooms and liquid immersion: Microsoft's eccentric plan to make its data centers green

Microsoft has published new information about its efforts to make its cloud data centers more energy-efficient and less water-hungry. The company is embarking on various research projects, all with the ... Read more »

Landmark Nikon Z9 is the leap forward Nikon's mirrorless cameras needed

Mirrorless cameras have come a long way in the last few years – and the Nikon Z9 is the latest flagship to push them forward into exciting new territory. (Looking ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic