Natural light was clearly the winner in terms of what kind of lighting made people the happiest—and the more light, the better. Homes with windows covering at least 40% of a room’s wall space were generally most favorable, and the strongest impact of lighting on mood was observed in women and participants under 30.
Additionally, the color and material of indoor walls made a difference for mood based on these findings. The study authors note that white and clearer tones impact the lighting of a space by reflecting (and subsequently “boosting”) light, while dark colors absorb it. Brick was the least happiness-inducing material, and the findings on wood were inconclusive since the material varies so much.
From an architectural perspective, as study co-author Pablo Navarrete-Hernandez, Ph.D. explains in a news release, “Our findings indicate that by maximizing window sizes, increasing the distance between dwellings to reduce shade, and using wall materials and colors that better reflect light, people perceive an increase in happiness and a decrease in sadness.”
And in terms of how to optimize the light in your own home, keeping your blinds open during the day and strategically placing mirrors to reflect window views can make a big difference. And according to this study, introducing lighter shades and finishings can also help ladder up to a sunny disposition at home.