Lighting Research Center

Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment

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How do I apply these lighting principles in a home?
  • Provide general or ambient light throughout the room to eliminate dark areas and allow for good visibility for people to move around the space. Keep brightness levels within a room and adjacent spaces about the same.
  • Use light-color finishes on walls, ceilings, and floors to increase diffuse, interreflected light in the living environment. This will increase uniformity and reduce glare. Use dark baseboards to help define walls and floors.
  • Keep room finishes simple, and avoid complex decorative patterns to minimize confusion with objects on floors and furnishings.
  • Identify where visual tasks will be performed, and put extra light at those places. More light is needed to see details, such as reading or sewing. Use adjustable light fixtures (luminaires) to increase light levels in these areas.
  • Use switches and dimmers to help people adjust the light level for their task needs.
  • Shield direct views of light bulbs (lamps) by using architectural features, such as valances, soffits, and coves, or by choosing luminaires that use baffles, lenses, or louvers.
  • Avoid clear-glass luminaries.
  • Avoid reflections of light sources from shiny surfaces, such as floors and countertops, by changing the position of the light source relative to the usual line of sight or by using matte finishes.
  • Daylight through windows and skylights will increase light levels in the space and improve color discrimination. Use blinds, shades, or curtains to minimize glare from windows.
  • Use high contrast colors at salient points, such as steps, ramps, or doorways. Also, use high contrast colors between floor covering on stairs and the floor at the bottom of the stairs. Paint doorframes a dark color to contrast with white walls and thereby improve their visibility.
  • Create intermediate illuminance levels in transitional spaces that lead from bright, outdoor areas, to dim, indoor spaces. At night, transition spaces between the relatively bright indoor spaces to the dark night enable older adults to adapt more completely as they move around the different spaces.

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