Fluorescent bulbs offer a more energy-efficient lighting option with only 25 to 35 percent the energy use of incandescent lamps, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Despite its efficiency, fluorescent lighting isn't known for being the most attractive or easiest on the eyes. In fact, it's considered some of the harshest lighting there is other than standing in the full sun or the glaring light of day. It can also draw attention to every little flaw. Creative ways to dim the harsh effects of fluorescent lighting make it a more attractive option that lets you take advantage of the energy and cost savings.
Colored Sheets or Fabrics
One option for hiding fluorescent lighting is to cover it with assorted colored sheets and fabrics. This option is inexpensive and lets you customize the finished look with a color, pattern or texture that fits your style. You can also easily change the look of the light by swapping out the cover material.
Select fabrics that are on the sheer side so the lighting in the room doesn't become too dim. For example, you might put burlap over fluroescent lights since it has a loose weave with small holes in it.
Use tacks to keep the covers in place, and hang them loosely to get a draping effect, which will also prevent the fabric from getting burned from too much heat. Cover each fixture with a different colored sheet, or use the same color for all fixtures to create a specific lighting effect.
Rice Paper Fluorescent Light Cover
Another option is to hang assorted sheer paper, such as rice paper, over the fluorescent fixtures. A rice paper fluorescent light cover softly diffuses the light without making your room too dim because the paper is so thin.
As with the colored sheets, hang the paper loosely over the lights to avoid creating a fire hazard. Attach the paper around the fixtures with tacks, using one large sheet of rice paper per fixture, or layer the rice paper with different colored tissue paper to create an array of different light colors. You also have the option of hanging the paper in an extremely loose fashion with bunches of colored tissue paper arranged within the rice paper.
Decorative Light Panels
Decorative light panels or clip on fluorescent light covers are another option in terms of hiding fluorescent lighting. Such panels are often available in a variety of styles, such as blue sky and clouds, including even different cloud types such as cirrus, cumulus and stratus clouds. Other options include sky and clouds with assorted greenery, such as palm trees, or sky and clouds featuring hot air balloons or kites. Other fluorescent light diffuser options include panels that feature a stained glass design, stone marble design or floral design.
Alternative Lighting Options
Other options for hiding fluorescent lighting are simply not to use the fixtures at all. Instead, look for a variety of interesting floor, table and hanging lamps that will provide the room with enough lighting without resorting to using the fluorescent lights. Lamps disperse light throughout a room softly rather than the severe overhead lighting that fluorescent lights provide. Use two or three lights per room, depending on the room's size.