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Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Meet the Author and Your Future Designer: Julio Arco is a passionate architect with years of experience in architecture, interior design, urban design, and housing. He studied at prestigious universities across North America and Europe. 


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Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors – Introduction Video 

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Why is Lighting Important in Evidence-Based Design for Pet-Friendly Interiors?

Research shows how light plays a massive role in how people perceive spaces. It is essential in evidence-based design for interiors and for the quality of the built environments. In my experience as an architect and interior designer, light is an indispensable factor in living. Therefore, it has to have a priority role in how design professionals tackle the design process.

Evidence shows that adequate lighting, either natural or artificial, is always crucial for interior design. And according to evidence-Based design, the proper amount of quality illumination present in the built environment provides positive outcomes such as giving structure to how people experience the space. Additionally, it strongly affects human emotions, communication, health, and behavior (Lang, 1974).

Quality research shows that light and color can influence biochemical and hormonal processes, body temperature, mood, psychological well-being, and electrical brain activity. Moreover, it impacts the neurotransmitters; therefore, it also affects cognitive functions, such as attention, learning, and memory.

Consequently, credible research conducted by Tomassoni, lighting generates the ability to excite, move, impress, communicate, heal and develop wellness, creating a sense of harmony with the surrounding environment.” 

Therefore, this article provides designers, architects, interior designers, and design professionals with evidence-based guidelines. Designers should create their own design strategies based on this research to make quality design decisions and produce the best possible outcomes in their designs.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Are the Psychological Effects of Lighting in Dogs similar to Humans?

According to the National Research Council, light in built environments can affect various animals’ behavior and well-being, including dogs and cats. Credible research suggests that if dogs are not exposed to natural light, they can get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Consequently, they can act depressed due to an alteration in the chemistry in the brains. 

Evidence tells that humans and dogs share much of the same brain chemistry. For example, both humans and dogs are affected by the hormones melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. At the same time, serotonin is a hormone that helps us feel happy and relaxed.

An increase in daylight makes the brain produce more melatonin and less serotonin. Both changes can affect mood, so exposure to sunlight and natural illumination is vital for evidence-based pet-friendly interior design.

While humans and dogs have eyes adapted for vision in both bright and dim light (Lind et al., 2017), the structure of their eyes is quite different from ours. Dogs see like color-blind humans, and we know this because we understand the make-up of the retina in a dog’s eye. Additionally, when compared to humans, a dog’s visual acuity is not as sharp. What humans with normal vision can see at a distance of 75 ft away, dogs could see with similar acuity at 20 ft away.

Therefore, research shows that dogs also use other cues – such as smell, texture, brightness, and position – to navigate their world and the built environment rather than relying solely on color. This means that proper lighting conditions are essential for them.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

What are the Effects of Natural Light on Humans?

Natural light can have a wide range of physiological and physical benefits. For example, it has been proven to help improve concentration, learning, problem-solving and critical thinking. Therefore, it is crucial to allow as much natural light into the built environment as possible.

Aside from helping us to get Vitamin D and enhance our health, natural light is essential for our Circadian rhythm and our built-in body clock. Our bodies are designed to operate on a 24-hour cycle, and natural light helps to keep us in sync with that cycle. When we are exposed to natural light during the day, it helps regulate our hormone levels and keep our energy levels up.

Exposure to sunlight and natural illumination is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with enhancing health by boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.

Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip and affect your health. Low serotonin levels are associated with a higher risk of major depression with a seasonal pattern (Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD). Therefore, evidence suggests that proper levels of natural illumination in interior design will enhance your mood and create a sense of wellness.

What are the Effects of Natural Light on Dogs?

Dogs need sunlight just like humans do. Sunlight is essential for your dog’s wellness in many ways. Natural daylight has a natural light spectrum from infrared (IR) right through to ultra-violet (UV). If you filter sunlight through glass, the UV light is absorbed and no longer reaches your dog’s skin and eyes (both of which are highly photosensitive).

Dogs (and all mammals) have evolved to live outside, exposed to the sun all day. They need sunlight, but they also need the full spectrum of sunlight that includes UV light, which is essential for their health.

Sunlight’s benefits for your dog’s health:

-Helping to regulate their sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm)

-Boosting their mood and energy levels

-Stimulating their appetite

-Regulating their metabolism

-Keeping their bones and muscles healthy

-Maintaining their skin and coat health

Additionally, just like humans, dogs need vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which helps keep their bones and muscles healthy. Furthermore, vitamin D strengthens the immune system and helps regulate cell growth. Finally, dogs also benefit from infrared light in sunlight. Infrared light helps improve circulation, which is essential for healing and recovery from injuries.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

What are the Effects of Artificial Light on Humans and Dogs?

Artificial light does not have the same positive health effects as natural light. In fact, too much exposure to artificial light can be harmful to your health due to its high proportion of blue light, which stays the same. This is unlike the natural changes in the spectrum of light from our sun over a whole day.

Both LED and fluorescent lighting suppress melatonin by 80 percent, and incandescent bulbs suppress melatonin by 40 percent. This is important because melatonin is vital for regulating your sleep cycle. So, if you’re exposed to too much artificial light, you’re more likely to have trouble sleeping.

However, artificial lighting is critical in interior design, and designers and architects must use it wisely. Like natural light, artificial illumination plays an essential role in how people experience and interact in a given space. Factors such as light color, intensity, hue, and distribution have psychological effects on the user. 

These effects can be related to different moods and levels of wellness and performance. For example, being under a warm light can create a feeling of relaxation and help people socialize creatively. In contrast, a cold light is more energizing (Augustin & Miller, 2012).

Moreover, according to InformeDesign the psychological and health effects that artificial light has also affects how we perceive the built environment in 5 different ways. Considering the similarities in which humans and dogs are affected by light, these 5 design strategies can also affect how dogs perceive their surroundings.

  • Light is essential where vertical elements intersect with horizontal ones. For example, proper lighting in a pathway where walls meet the floor is vital for safe navigation through a space.
  • You can direct attention through light cues. Studies suggest that people will follow the brightest path.
  • Different brightness intensities can also help focus attention by designing a focal point. Raising the brightness and contrast between an object and its surrounding environment increases the visual impact.
  • People prefer to be facing illuminated walls. Moreover, other research suggests that people do not like to sit in bright areas but prefer to see spaces with wall luminance.
  • Lighting can cause altering body positions either by attracting attention or making the eyes tired of high levels of light.  

The same research further suggests how to use lighting depending on the activity performed in the space. When architects and designers plan on illuminating a public space, they must rely on higher levels of illumination with uniform distribution of lighting coming from overhead sources.

In the interior design process, in spaces that need to feel spacious and social, high levels of illumination should be suggested by designers. Additionally, an even distribution of light on the walls and uniformity of all surfaces should be provided. For places to be perceived as relaxing, the use of non-uniform distribution provided by wall lighting and dimly lit levels will enhance the flow of conversation and social interaction (Augustin & Miller, 2012). For areas where tasks are to be performed, provide higher luminance on the activity/task planes with peripheral luminance (InformeDesign). 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

What is the Best way to Create Well-Illuminated Pet-Friendly Interior Designs?


According to evidence-based design, we can implement different strategies and guidelines to create well-illuminated Pet-Friendly Interior Designs.

The interior design process should consider windows that allow natural views to help replenish mental energy, concentration, and focus and decrease stress levels. Additionally, utilizing transparent surfaces, such as glass or wall or ceiling openings, may help a space appear larger (Augustin & Miller, 2012).

Studies suggest that people perceive the spaces as relaxing and pleasant by enhancing the perception of spaciousness with natural lighting (Ozdemir, 2010). Playing with different fabrics to cover and uncover windows and wall openings can result in different perceptions of space.

Reflective Colors

Research has found that adequate light levels actually affect how people perceive spaciousness. Bright spaces are perceived as more spacious, causing comfort to improve. This is likely because bright lighting makes it easier to see our surroundings, giving us a greater sense of awareness and control.

You can accomplish this by using light colors. Believe it or not, the color of your walls can significantly impact the amount of natural light that enters your home. White is the most reflective color, so it will help to bounce light around the room and make it feel brighter.

Colors close to white, such as light-colored pastels, can also reflect plenty of rays. An eggshell wash or other reflective paint finish can further increase their brightness.

If you want to learn more about how to use colors, visit our article Amazing Psychological Effects of Colors in Pet-Friendly Interiors.


Mirrors are a great way to maximize the amount of light in a room. By placing a mirror in the path of sunlight, you can reflect the light around the room, brightening up the space. Just be sure to put the mirror in a strategic location to get the most benefit from the reflection. In addition to brightening up a room, mirrors can also be used to create the illusion of more space. If you have a small room, placing a mirror opposite a window can give the impression of a larger, more open space. So don’t be afraid to experiment with different locations for your mirrors – you may be surprised at the difference they can make.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Lighting is a significant aspect of the design of pet-friendly interiors as it can influence people’s emotions and behaviors. Proper lighting can create a sense of relaxation, coziness, and spaciousness, which are essential factors to consider when designing pet-friendly interiors.

In addition, lighting can also help direct people’s attention and focus their eyes on specific areas or objects. When designing pet-friendly interiors, it is essential to consider the different needs of pets and their owners to create a functional and comfortable space.

Moreover, adding color lighting might help induce a tactile sensation by manifesting surfaces with perceived temperature and sensations, creating a condition to “feel” the light (Tomassoni). 

This article is a part of a series called Evidence-Based Design Principles for Great Pet-Friendly Interiors, click this link if you want to learn more. 


Amazing Psychological Effects of Lighting in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Hire an Online Interior Designer at Havenly

There are several online interior design websites, but Havenly is your best option to hire from a robust list of interior designers that will help you in decorating and creating the perfect dog-friendly home. When you sign up for Havenly, you will take a short quiz about your design style and what you are looking for in a designer. Havenly will then match you with a designer who will help you select paint colors, furniture, and accessories that are both stylish and safe for your furry friend.

In addition, your Havenly designer will be able to provide tips on how to create a space that is both comfortable for your dog and inviting for guests. With Havenly, creating a beautiful and functional home that your dog will love is easy and stress-free.

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M.Arch. Julio Arco
M.Arch. Julio Arco

Bachelor of Architecture - ITESM University
Master of Architecture - McGill University
Architecture in Urban Context Certificate - LDM University
Interior Designer - Havenly
Architecture Professor - ITESM University

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