When I first moved into my house, my kitchen lighting was pretty ugly – two giant fluorescents complete with little bug corpses piled into the corners of the fixtures. They were unsightly but functional, so I saved what I could from my “paying-back-student-loans” type budget and eventually had enough to finally replace my infamously ugly kitchen lights. I was ecstatic when I could upgrade to contemporary-style track lighting. I expected the new lights to make my kitchen look more modern and open – which they did.

What I didn’t expect was how changing the lights would change my mood.

As a post-grad working three jobs I had always assumed I didn’t have the time to spend cooking or just hanging out in my breakfast nook. Once I replaced my light fixtures, I found myself making time to cook, clean and decorate. Who would have thought the old, dreary, flickering lights were the problem?

So I began re-thinking all my lighting options, which these days are surprisingly vast. Don’t get overwhelmed, just have fun and consider all the options – any change can make a difference, from a dramatic pendant to a blue fridge light (some studies show that the color blue is an appetite suppressant and promotes positive decision making). For instance, I discovered that an under-the-counter light just above my coffee maker really helps me wake up in the morning without having to turn on my giant ceiling track lights. You may want to consider push lights to help you see the back of dark cabinets or plant-friendly grow lights in your windowsill for herbs.

Check out some of the creative lighting Kitchen Design Concepts has installed (I love these almost invisible track lights) and get inspired to make your kitchen feel more like the heart of your home.

Our intern is Desiree Johnson, a recent journalism graduate and Texas native. The 26-year-old loves painting, her dachshund Munchie and using what she calls her “real, adult-sized kitchen.”