What You Need to Know About Lighting Your Home in the Winter

By: Katie Anderson
January 30, 2018


An Interview with Randall Whitehead

randall-whiteheadDo the winter blues have you down? If so, you’re not alone. While Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is more common for people living in the northern states, it might surprise you to learn that the lack of sunlight here in California causes changes in our body clocks and internal rhythms too. This not only can lead to us feeling less like our usual selves, but in some cases, that lack of light actually leads to depression.

Fortunately, there are some ways to compensate for the lack of sunlight by using the lighting in our homes. To find out more, we recently sat down with Randall Whitehead, owner of Randall Whitehead Lighting Solutions and author of seven books, including Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide.

What should homeowners who are building or remodeling consider, as far as lighting goes, to help make their home more cheerful and warmer feeling in the winter?

It’s all about LEDs these days. People should consider adding runs of linear indirect LED lighting that has color changing capabilities. I’m not talking about the cheap stuff that goes from blue to green to yellow to red, I’m referring to the LEDs that allow you to dial in a specific color.

The older products used to be called RGB (red/green /blue). Now you want to get RGBW. This adds to a white LED, so that the colors are more natural.

So, in the winter for example, you can make the light warmer inside to offset the cool blue light outside. You want to make sure that the color rendering index (CRI – see definition below) is 90 or higher, so that you get the richness of the illumination that we are used to getting from incandescent lights.

What type of lighting do you recommend for homeowners who maybe aren’t doing a full remodel, but want to compensate for the lack of light and less daylight during the winter?

I would still go with LED. There are many screw-in LED bulbs on the market which have the ability to go from cool white to a very warm white. As they dim they get warmer in color, just like incandescent bulbs. This is a relatively new development.

Another thing I would have people consider is to install directional LED lighting up on the underside of the eave of their homes. This projects light outward.  By illuminating the landscape, even if it is covered with snow, it helps keep the windows from becoming ‘black mirrors’ at night.

This visually expands the interior spaces, especially in the winter when the days are much shorter. People can get a little bit of cabin fever during the winter. Being able to see out the windows at night really helps.


What is the most important thing people need to know about lighting and seasonal changes?

Many people do suffer from SAD. They become depressed during the long winters and may not even understand why. Having more light in their home could really help.


On a more personal note, people may recognize your name from your appearances on The Discovery Channel, HGVT, CNN, and Martha Stewart Living Radio. Tell us a little bit about how you became interested in lighting and what led you to follow this career path.

I initially came from a background in theater lighting and photography. After working for another lighting designer, I went into partnership with an architect. We marketed ourselves to Interior Designers and Architects, letting them know that our job was to make the spaces they created look magical at night. If we were selling our services directly to homeowners we would simply let them know that we could make them look 10 years younger at night. Once they heard that, our services would pretty much sell themselves.


Do you still work with homeowners or do you mostly guide other lighting and interior designers through your seminars?

I stopped seeing clients about seven months ago and moved into education. I mostly give presentations to other design professionals, but occasionally I do teach students as well. Down the road I would like to speak to homeowners directly.

Any upcoming books or appearances that people should know about?

I have a new book coming out called “Beautiful Light. It is specifically for homeowners to guide them on how to use LEDs correctly and effectively in their homes and gardens.

I write for a publication called Lighting and Decor Magazine. I answer people’s questions. I’m sort of the Dear Abby of Lighting. People can read it online for free. They can also sign up for a free subscription. In addition, I do videos for the magazine, which can be seen on their website and I also have videos on my YouTube channel.

Are You Ready to Update Your Lighting or Start Your Design Project?

I’d love to talk to you about it. You can reach me directly at 415-722-9124 or send me an email by clicking here.