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The Best Lights To Lighten Your Mood And Make Your Home Shine 

Yes, winter may appear dark and depressing — but add the right lighting and that will all change.

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Variety of modern chandeliers on purple background.
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There’s a reason that lighting is often referred to as “mood lighting.” Studies have found that it literally can lighten your mood if done correctly.

A 2018 study by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that light affects the cluster of neurons in your thalamus — the part of your brain that relays sensory information to other areas of your brain — that impacts your mood. Another study by Michigan State University neuroscientists found that spending too much time in dimly lit rooms affects your memory and your ability.

Not to fear. January may be dim and dark, but we talked to lighting experts who suggested their favorite mood lights to cheer up every person and every room.

Arguably more important than the actual lights, however, are the lightbulbs, says Joe Cangelosi, an interior designer in New York City. “It’s the quality of the light that I’m concerned with,” he says. Light bulbs come in color temperatures ranging from warm to cold in Kelvin degrees. For example, 2700K is a great warm temperature that gives off a yellowish hue, he says, while 3000K is the most flattering white light for most skin tones (the latter tends to be Cangelosi’s preference). He recommends staying away from cool light bulbs in the 4000K–5000K range, which are too blue and wash the tone out of your skin. It’s also important to get a full-range dimmer so you can set the mood from bright to party to romance with a flick of a switch. A pack of LED bulbs that fits the bills are the Great Eagle A19 LED Light Bulb, 3000K ($9).

Now, on to the lights (with sample prices).

For kitchens or living rooms

Try adjustable height pendant lights.

Why they work: Light fixtures should be functional, and they should complement the interior decor, says Karen Lee, founder of Smart Robotic Home in New York. “My favorite fixtures that can be used in any room are the adjustable height pendant lights,” she says. “These fixtures can come in many colors and designs — my top choice being clear glass pendant shades, as they match any style and offer a good amount of light.” What Lee loves most about adjustable height pendant lights is that you can adjust them to any height. This is great for kitchens or living rooms, as furniture can change frequently, but your light fixtures can adjust to fit.

Consider these: Chris W Modern Glass Pendant Lighting for Kitchen Island ($53); Black Warehouse Pendant Hanging Light with Metal Shade ($30)

For living spaces or bedrooms

Try sculptural lights.

Why they work: When not illuminated, they look like simple decorative items, says Joy Chao,  a registered interior designer from Vancouver, Canada, with the design firm JHA Architecture + Interior. “However, when lit, these lamps create such a beautiful, subtle and warm glow that makes a room look welcoming and relaxing,” Chao says. 

Consider these: Tank Illuminated Floor Vases made in Italy by artist designer Ocilunam ($922); Katheryn 1 Light Unique Statement Geometric Pendant by Bayou Breeze ($88)

For work/home setups

Try dimmable lights with charging ports.

Why they work: These are fully adjustable in all senses of the word, Chao says. Her favorite — Herman Miller’s Lolly Task Light — has an LED light source that’s compact but adjustable, with built-in charging ports, touch control for on/off and dimming, and a built-in motion sensor.

Consider these: Lolly LED Task Light with USB ($275); Industrial Metal LED Wireless Charging and USB Task Lamp ($199)

For bathrooms

Try lights with dimmable LEDs.

Why they work: A bright LED light makes applying makeup much easier, says Andra DelMonico, the lead interior designer for Trendey, an online site for home-design inspiration. Turn down the LED when you’re getting ready for bed.

Consider these: Sydni 1 Light Dimmable LED Bath Bar ($120); Lonnie 3 Light Dimmable Black/Aged Brass Bath Bar ($154)

For reading nooks or bedrooms

Try wall sconces with linen shades and adjustable arms.

Why they work: They arch to provide soft task lighting, DelMonico says, and add the right amount of light over your favorite reading chair, the end of the sofa or next to your bed. “The white linen shade gently diffuses the light while the adjustable arm swivels and extends to easily direct the light,” she says.

Consider these: Articulating Arm Linen Drum Shade Plug-In Sconce ($249); Journey 2-Light Swing Arm Wall Sconce ($365)