Lighting Up Your New Place: Color and Cost

By Kendra Williamson

LampAs you’re finally settling in, there is one aspect of your new space that is impactful, yet often overlooked: light. Light changes how we feel and how we perceive our surroundings. Think of walking across a densely wooded hillside where the canopy is so eerily thick that you get the feeling a bear will jump out at you any second. On the other hand, imagine yourself in a forest glowing with green light; the sunlight filters through semi-transparent leaves, surrounding you with heavenly rays. Thoughts of danger are far from your mind as you experience that ethereal moment. Light matters. It colors our surroundings. It also impacts the size of our electric bill. As you’re setting up your new space, consider the cost and the color of the bulbs you choose.

Count the Cost

Traditionally, when we think of a light bulb, we imagine a common incandescent bulb. It’s cheap and it gives off a calming yellow hue, but you pay for it in the long run. Incandescent bulbs use about three to five times more electricity than their energy-efficient counterparts, such as LED or fluorescent bulbs. Though we think of fluorescent lights as being cold and blue-toned, both fluorescent and LED bulbs come in a wide array of hues, from warm to bright to natural. Yes, each bulb is more expensive than the incandescent, but they last up to 20 times longer and use less energy. It’s an investment.

Consider Color

Now it’s time to think of each area you need to light up. Here are some questions to think on: What natural light do I already have? What will this room look like at night? Where do I spend the most time? What is the purpose of this room? What feeling do I want in this room? The answers to these questions are totally up to you – it’s your space, remember – but they will affect the colors you choose. The spectrum of colors ranges from yellow to blue hues, starting with yellow: warm, soft, cool, neutral, bright, or natural/daylight.

Living Room

Reading, watching television, and visiting with friends are all activities worthy of a living room, but either way you’ll generally want the welcoming feeling that comes with a warm, yellow bulb. You might also look for bulbs that can be dimmed while you watch TV or rest after work and then light up when company comes over. Versatility is your friend in the living room. If you opt to have a reading lamp over a chair, choose a bulb with a natural or daylight color, which is ideal for reading.


The bedroom is a place to relax and rest. It should have a warm, even, calm light throughout the whole room. Dimming yellow-toned lights can also be used here to create a romantic atmosphere at the right moment. In addition to relaxation and romance, the bedroom is a place to get ready for the day, so “task lighting” may be important to you. A well-lit closet can help you see your clothes and their colors properly, and lights beside a mirror can help you get ready in the morning. For each of these task lights, selecting a cool or natural-colored bulb will help you perceive the colors of your clothes more accurately.


Will your kitchen be the heart of the home or just a place to get things done? Its lighting can make the difference. Overall, you want the kitchen to be well-illuminated with a bulb color that creates a soft to cool white light – not too yellow, but definitely not cold blue. Consider hanging classy ceiling lamps over part of the counter for when you want better lighting on those carrots you’re chopping.


The lighting in your bathroom literally changes how you see yourself. Ladies, have you ever done your makeup at home and thought you looked smashin’, only to catch your reflection elsewhere and notice a handsome streak of foundation on your jawline? Light bulbs matter. When using fluorescent or LED bulbs in a bathroom, be sure you look at the Color Rendering Index (CRI) number on the box and get a bulb that’s over 90. This makes the color you see more natural and more likely to help you notice that streak of foundation. A warm to soft white bulb will do the trick for your bathroom. The lighting you choose really can make a difference in your new home. Don’t just buy the first bulb you lay your hands on, but look at the colors and cost, and think about what will be best for your space.

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