The amount and type of light affects the mood of any room. To me, a bright overhead light in the venter of the room is dull – it makes everything in the room (including people) look drab and unattractive. On the other hand, accent lighting – like table and floor lamps, sconces, directional lights you can aim at the walls – warms up everything.
To get a sense of what you are going to need, look at the space you have available and think about what in the room you literally want to spotlight and where you need light for practical reasons (e.g., for reading).
Also, consider how much you want to spend – lamps are generally the least expensive form of lighting because you don’t need to get an electrician involved – and what lights will need to have 3-way bulbs or dimmers. I highly recommend anything that lets you control light brightness and direction because there will be times when you want to soften the light. If, for instance, you sleep with someone who doesn’t read as much as you do in bed, putting a 3way bulb in your bedside lamp or installing a sconce that swings out and lets you direct the light right over your book will allow your significant other the luxury of lying on the bed without being blinded.
Or lets say you are a single guy and you are trying to get closer to your lady. You’ve got some sexy music cranking on the stereo, then you switch the light and suddenly you’ve gone from Barry White to Very Bright. It’s a mood killer.
It is also important to get a read on how much natural light the room gets during the day. The more natural light you have permeating a room, the more joy and happiness the room will radiate. Use daylight as one decisive factor in selecting your window treatments. If the room isn’t particularly light, you don’t want heavy shades, blinds or curtains that will diminish it further. Yet you don’t want to lose all sense of privacy. There are a lot of different shades designed to deal with this dual problem, some of which are made of synthetic mesh that lets light filter through while blocking prying eyes. You can also get bottom up shades that allow the sun to shine in at the top while providing coverage at the bottom.
There are ways to get creative with this, too. Instead of putting up window treatments in my old house in Atlanta, I created shoji-like screens out of white Plexiglas and placed them in front of the windows. They let in light but blocked out my neighbors backyard. I also planted bamboo outside the window, which created wonderful shadows on the screens.
If you are going to redo the room on a pretty big scale and you don’t think it has enough light, you might even think about making some structural changes. Add another window or a skylight, if possible. Or you can actually cut a space – a square, a rectangle, a circle, an arched rectangle, any shape really – into one of the walls to let in light from another room. It can require having to move some of the electrical, but if you get lucky, you’ll miss it and you won’t have to move anything.
This will not only make the room brighter, it will open it up a bit so that it seems to have more space than it actually does. And that’s always a plus.