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How to Set a Room’s Mood with Smart Lighting

A living room with purple LED lights.
pozitivo/Shutterstock

Color can affect your mood. Businesses spend thousands of dollars each year researching which colors of decor will encourage customers to drop the most dough when they walk through the door. You can also use this mental trick to set the mood in a room with just the color of your lights.

Cold or Warm? Each Has Its Place

Smart lighting is available in different colors, which allows you to change the color of a room to suit your needs. For example, “colder” lighting makes someone feel more productive and focused and is best suited for an office. This is why so many office buildings use harsh fluorescent lighting.

On the flip side, “warmer” lighting—like candlelight or overhead lighting in restaurants—promotes a sense of relaxation.

You can tweak the color of the lighting in your home to change your mood, but first, you have to understand how color psychology works. After that, it’s a simple matter of changing the lights to suit your needs.

Color Psychology

Color psychology is an extensive and complex field, and the science of it isn’t conclusive. Still, if you want to try it, here are a few basics to keep in mind:

  • Red is associated with power: It can help stimulate your appetite, which makes it an ideal color for a kitchen or dining room. In terms of lighting, it provides a sense of urgency. In less intense shades, it can help with relaxation.
  • Blue is calming: Although it gets a bad rap for interrupting the circadian rhythm, soft blue light can be helpful in offices and workplaces as a productivity booster.
  • Purple helps stimulate creativity: If you’re an artist, writer, designer, or photographer, or just working through a difficult problem, soft purple lighting can help.
  • Green causes the least amount of eye strain: This would be ideal in a bedroom or living room to put you at ease as you relax and catch up on your favorite TV series.
  • Orange and yellow are associated with sunrise: Both are ideal for soft lighting in the morning as you get ready to encourage a sense of happiness and contentment.

Of course, there are color temperatures of light, as well. For example, a cool white has a bluish tint that encourages focus and alertness, but it can disturb your sleep cycle. A warm white is the perfect option for relaxing and winding down before bed, but not the best choice for an office environment.

How to Set a Room’s Mood with Smart Lighting

The Philips Hue and similar smart lights make it possible to change the color of the light within a room on the fly. Setting specific scenes allows you to recall the same settings at the tap of a button.

We’ll demonstrate how to do this with Philips Hue lighting, but you can use any smart lighting system that offers configurable colors.

To do this, you’ll need the Philips Hue app on your mobile device, a Hue Bridge, and at least one Hue light with color. Open the Philips Hue app. In our example, there are already three rooms set up, but yours will look different based on the layout of your home. Select one of the rooms.

The "Your Rooms" menu in the Philips Hue app.

After you choose a room, a color wheel appears.

The color wheel in the Philips Hue app.

You can move the pointer around the wheel to choose which color and shade you want. Alternatively, if you tap the painter’s palette icon in the upper-right corner, you can choose from a series of preset scenes. If you have more than one bulb in the room, each will reflect a different color as part of the scene.

The scene selection menu in the Philips Hue app.

You can also create your own scene. To do so, just tap “New Scene” in the upper-left corner. In the next screen, type a name for your scene and choose the colors you want to incorporate within it.

A custom scene in the Philips Hue app.

This tool is particularly powerful; you can even choose an image and have your scene incorporate its ambient colors. There are several preset images, but you can also choose one from your camera roll.

In addition to the basic functions offered by Philips Hue lights, there are also some experimental features available through Hue Labs. This platform allows Philips Hue owners to opt into early prototype features, like enabling a light to flicker like a candle.

If you want to see the available options, just tap “Explore” at the bottom of the screen, and then tap “Hue Labs.”

Tap "Hue Labs."

Philips Hue provides a powerful customization platform in which people can set the mood in their homes with smart lighting, but it isn’t the only one. People with LIFX lighting can access many similar functions, as well as those with Sengled, Tradfri, or GE lighting.

Patrick Hearn Patrick Hearn
Patrick Hearn is a freelance technology writer for How-To Geek. For the last decade, he has followed and written about the field of smart home technology for a variety of outlets, including Digital Trends, CNET, and CBSi. He has written hundreds of articles on the world of smart home technology, ranging from breaking news in the field to detailed, complex how-to guides on obscure and little-known Google Home functions.
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