When the days get shorter and the sun becomes more of an acquaintance than a friend, there’s nothing better than escaping the chills and returning to a warm, cosy home. However, it takes more than a thermostat to create that cosy feeling, it needs ambience. When it comes to creating a mood, lighting is your best friend. The correct lighting can instantly elevate a space. We’ve spoken to lighting experts and interior designers to give you an 8-step guide to transform your house into a cosy sanctuary that oozes ambience.
Know what you’re working with
‘Lighting in a room needs to be made up of layers, ambient, task and accent’ explains Katie Thomas, interior designer and founder of KTM design. ‘This is especially important in autumn, as the days draw in and sun-soaked corners become dark and uninviting.’ Your main light source is known as ambient lighting and is the foundation for your lighting scheme. Task lighting illuminates the areas where your main lights don’t reach, like a desk or table lamp. Last, we have accent lighting, this can be used to draw attention to a certain area, like downlights above a painting.
Layer your lighting
Now you know the basics, it’s time to start layering up. ‘Approaching your lighting in a layered manner will create little pockets and pools of light, giving a welcoming atmosphere,’ explains Marketa Rypacek, managing director of lighting specialists Industville. Combining these different types of lighting and building layers allows you change the mood at the flick of a switch and enables you to adjust the artificial light to how much natural light you receive.
Work with the space
Adjust your lighting to compliment your space. If you have high ceilings, this is perfect for adding a pendant light to add some personality to the room. With smaller spaces, try illuminating corners with lamps or candles to let the light fill that area. ‘Make dark corners inviting by adding a floor lamp,’ suggests Katie ‘Accent lighting is also crucial in setting the tone. Think flickering candlelight, or the crackle of a fire. If you don’t have a fireplace and you don’t want to light candles, you can recreate this with fairy lights and electric candles that add a warm, cheerful glow to dim days and long nights.’
Highlight different areas
Use lighting to define different spaces in your home. If you have large house, this is especially effective in creating more intimate areas. ‘If you have an architectural feature or piece of wall art in the home, consider accenting it with wall lights for a subtle glow and using warmer, lower-level lighting such as table lamps will help create a snug, relaxed feel in any room’ advises Marketa.
Discover the dimmer switch
Dimmer switches are the perfect way to control the mood and intensity of your lighting. From day to evening and season to season, the amount of natural light varies. Sometimes you need all the lights on just to see properly whereas on sunny days, you may not need any on at all. A dimmer switch is a ‘quick and cost-effective way of offering multiple lighting levels in a space, allowing you to set the tone and change the atmosphere of a room instantly,’ notes Marketa.
Pick the right bulbs
If you want to switch up the light scheme in a room, an easy fix is to look at your bulbs. Changing the bulb can alter the kind of light it emits. The lumen measurement of a lightbulb indicates the brightness so make sure you keep this in mind when choosing yours. ‘Change the lightbulbs in your lamps from bright white to warm white to change the ambience in the room,’ advises Katie. ‘Bright white lights tend to be bluer in tone and can be very harsh and not very relaxing. Warm white and reddish hues have a physiological effect on the body, releasing more melatonin and making you feel more relaxed, and this also helps your body get ready for sleep.’
Switch up your lampshade
Just like a bulb, the lampshade can make a big difference to ambience. ‘Lampshades diffuse or redirect the light from the bulb for maximum effectiveness and protect your eyes from the glare of the bulbs,’ says Ash Read, founder of Living Cozy. ‘With this in mind, opt for a light-coloured lampshade as it will diffuse the light more easily. Shape is also important, a wide drum will overpower a smaller space, but will light up a large room.’ Choosing a texture such as rattan for your shade will cast a lovely shadow across the room. ‘Embrace the seasons and go for green tones which match the evergreens outside, and give off a richer and cosier light, perfect for relaxing,’ suggests Katie. This is an easy and super effective way to add some mood to a room.
Extend the light
If you are lucky enough to have some outside area, extend the mood lighting into the outdoors. Try adding solar powered string lights and downlights in your garden or balcony. Not only does this create a lovely vibe if your outside but looking out to this through a window creates a cosy feeling indoors too.