To paraphrase Henry Ford in a completely wrong context: you can choose any color as long as it is yellowish white .

For centuries we have lived under the yellowish tint of incandescent lamps, but no longer. The proliferation of cheap, bright, colorful LEDs has given us a whole new visual dimension to home decor. In addition, adding some automation to colored lighting opens up even more possibilities: colors and intensity can change throughout the day or react dynamically to external factors. how is the weather.

Let’s take a quick look at some tips for using colored lighting.

Color Lighting Options

Let’s take a quick look at your smart lighting options first.

Philips Hue is a leader in smart home color lighting systems with a wide range of lamps, accents and even backlights. However, they are more expensive — upwards of $60 for a single color light bulb.

If you have the money to buy branded lamps or the Friend of Hue range, Philips Hue is my personal system of choice and thanks to the open API they can connect to a huge range of other services or smart home centers — mine currently integrates with OpenHAB on the Raspberry Pi. The Philips Hue system requires a Wi-Fi bridge, which you’ll find in the starter kit — the latest version of which (look for «second generation») can also join Apple’s Homekit and be controlled by Siri.


Fibaro offers a Z-Wave controller for cheap RGB strips that can be bought in China for less than $10 for 5 meters, but the Fibaro controller itself is certainly not cheap (£48 or about $70). Z-Wave is compatible with a wide range of smart hubs including OpenHAB via USB dongle.

Finally, LIFX offers Wi-Fi based colored light bulbs that don’t require a hub. They also cost about $60 a light bulb and can be integrated with multiple smart home hubs.

Beware of buying cheaper lamps — often Bluetooth-based — that only work with their own proprietary mobile app and cannot be integrated with other systems.

Also be careful when mixing and matching colored lighting from different suppliers. . While some lamps or strips will only offer red, green and blue LEDs for color mixing, other manufacturers will complement them with white LEDs, while the Philips Hue range uses a completely different color space. G rein B lue ) — and therefore rarely matches the colors produced by other manufacturers.

Consider existing decor

Before you start designing with color, you should know that colored light is visible because it reflects off a surface, which means that a white surface (which reflects every wavelength).

Before buying any new lighting kit, consider your existing décor: if you have dark walls, the colored lighting effect will be very subdued and really not worth installing. If you have bright but non-white walls, the colored lighting will further blend into that color, but again, you’ll get a less pronounced effect and probably won’t achieve exactly the lighting color you were aiming for.

Ideally, you’ll then have a pure white wall or ceiling to act as your canvas on which to paint with light.

Use silhouettes

Negative space is a powerful concept when used in conjunction with colored lighting. Instead of bathing an entire wall or ceiling with a color palette, consider giving the light a simple woodcut.

Reddit user Possumism perfectly demonstrates this concept in his daughter’s Christmas gifts, for which they requested «Hello Kitty and Dragon computer». The results are amazing.

dragon and hello kitty computers

Combine this concept with a Philips Hue flashlight to turn your wall sign into a fully networked notification system that can then be linked to IFTTT or other smart systems.

Experiment with color theory

Some studies have shown that the blue light emitted by devices keeps you awake by suppressing melatonin levels. That is why there are many apps and night modes that tend to cut off the blue light spectrum from the screen. Flux launched this trend on Mac. ; as soon as the sun goes down, it gives your screen an orange-yellow tint. Now you will find many utilities that do the same: for Windows, only for your browser or Android.

But there are also train stations in Japan that illuminate the platform with blue light to reassure passengers and prevent suicide — and it works really well. Calming down should also be good for sleep, right?

Then there is the theory of stage lighting, which states that blue is used to convey moonlight, coldness, calm or serenity in theatrical performances. What else does stage lighting tell us?

  • Red : anger, fear, jealousy, evil
  • Yellow : bright or happy
  • Orange : awakening, intimate, warm
  • Violet : royal, cheerful, playful
  • Green : nature, growth, healing, money

Adventure night owls will say that red light is the least harmful to your eyes, so they use red filters on flashlights to maintain optimal vision. Therefore, you can try changing the motion-activated night lighting rules to red. This idea may be a myth, although simply lowering the intensity of the light is probably just as good.

If you are designing with multi-color lighting fixtures, you should also look into theories such as free colors and harmonies.

The fact is that there is no right answer to this question and we probably all react differently depending on our own psychological profile and cultural upbringing so you have to experiment to find what works for you. My own opinion, if you care: Watching TV or using a computer right before bed is stupid, no matter what kind of light it emits. Reading on my phone or iPad using white text on a black background is a surefire way to fall asleep within half an hour.

Luckily, colored LED lighting allows you to experiment with ease. Install one RGB lamp in your bedroom as a night light, try out different colors and see what will help you relax and fall asleep faster. You could even connect a sleep tracking gadget or app if you want to be truly scientific.

DIY connected lights

Instead of changing existing lamps, consider adding notification-enabled accent lighting. They would be ideally placed in a darkened corner or niche so that they are visible even during the day. Here are some ideas to get you started.

bottle lights

Use a glass cutting bit to cut a hole in the bottom of several bottles of white wine and then insert some short strips of networked RGB LEDs. Apply glass frosting to diffuse the light and you have some eye-catching light notifications. Here’s an alternate design that doesn’t require drilling as it’s suspended from above, but the effect is similar.

decorative mushrooms

Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but an interesting project that can be easily adapted to provide useful notifications using IFTTT. This Tutorial will show you how to make your own Enchanted Mushroom Light. Combined with this tutorial, turn them into web-controlled RGB notification lights using our favorite WiFi-enabled development board, the ESP8266 NodeMCU

3D wall lights

Marvel releases a line of 3D wall lights, my favorite of which is the Thor Hammer, which emits a nice blue light. Of course, you should be able to open one and install your little color-changing light bulb, though I can’t find anyone that does that yet.

Build LED Table

If you have some basic woodworking skills, you should be able to pick up a simple dining or coffee table. Instead of a wooden top, use a piece of tempered frosted glass and line the underside with RGB LED strips. Just imagine how relaxed it will be to receive Facebook or Gmail notifications in the middle of lunch when the whole table is pulsing red. Um.

If your woodworking skills aren’t quite up to scratch (or none at all), grab an Ikea glass top coffee table and simply spritz the icing on the bottom of the glass.

DIY cloud lamp

Here is one of the ones I made earlier. : A fluffy cloud lamp powered by a band of individually controlled WS2812B pixels. In my code, it has many modes, including sound-responsive, but there’s no reason why you can’t adapt it using the web interface. It makes a stunning centerpiece in any room, and around 200 LEDs can really light up a place.

If you are a social junkie, there really is no limit to the number of lighting fixtures in your home that may be adapted to notify you of new messages. Check out this smart lighting article. for IFTTT ideas and recipes to connect everything.

What is your new approach to using smart home lighting? Do you use any smart lights as notifications? Or do you use color theory to help you sleep better? Let us know about it in the comments!

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