Along with the basic arrangement of your furniture, lighting plays a crucial role in creating the overall vibe of your home. But this design essential is shockingly easy to screw up, so where to begin? First, let's take out that overhead ceiling light that makes you look like you have jaundice, grab a couple lamps, and dutifully read this article. Before you know it, you'll be seeing your place in a whole new light. Literally.
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Only use light bulbs under 40 watts
Bulbs over 40 watts are great for garages/sheds (places where you'd need more light), but inside your home, you want to set the mood to something a little more relaxing to help you turn down. For what, you ask? Netflix, probably.
And use energy efficient bulbs
They're a little more costly and let off a brighter light than incandescent bulbs, but you'll save a buttload of money over time and can brag to your friends about how your "carbon footprint" is a child's size 5.
Start with a good table lamp
You know the old adage, "a good table lamp is hard to find." Especially if you don't have a table, so that's your first step. Then snag a lamp that complements your decor, but pay close attention to height -- a good rule of thumb is that the bottom of the shade should be eye level when you're seated beside it. Plain white lamp shades let more light through, but go for a neutral or colored shade to make a room feel cozier.
Mix it up with different light sources
Although mo' money often equates to mo' problems, this issue does not translate in the world of lamps. Having a good mix of lighting from at least three different sources (an overhead light, track lighting, a standing lamp, candles, etc.) helps fill out a room and evenly distribute the light while showcasing certain focal points and design elements.
Install dimmer switches
Installing a dimmer is actually pretty easy and costs no more than $20. Turn off your circuit breaker, remove the old switch with a screwdriver, check the wires with a voltage tester, install the new dimmer switch, screw on the faceplate, and voila. Next time you're hosting a party and that Savage Garden song "Truly Madly Deeply" comes on, you'll be prepared.
Strategically place mirrors near windows
The laws of reflection are confusing and convoluted, like magnetics, or that weird show John From Cincinnati. But it's a fact that hanging a mirror beside or across from a window will increase the natural lighting in a room significantly (which has also been tied to boosting your mood). It's a win/win.
Opt for blinds instead of curtains
Blinds take up less space in a window and let in more natural light during the day, while still keeping certain things private, like your privacy. Curtains will block light out of a room (unless you get something sheer, but then what's the point?)
Paint your walls in a light, neutral color
White or neutral paint reflects light much better than darker hues. This is especially true in small rooms or rooms without many windows. Now get yourself to the Home Depot paint aisle and pick yourself up a can of "Politically Correct Mauve."
White twinkle lights have come a long way since you haphazardly hung them across your dorm room walls. With a little planning and quality execution, a line of $5 string lights can completely transform the ambiance of a room. Plus, college ruled. Never forget that.
Alex Robinson is a writer for Thrillist Media Group. He was once the lightmaster, but has since passed on the power to you. There can only be one! Follow him on Twitter.