Light up your Life

Ways to Chase Away the Encroaching Gloom

Our bedroom in our NYC pied-a-terre might be small (it doesn’t even have its own window!) But I’ve kept our lighting options varied. A chandlier overhead is on a dimmer, while a lamp on each nightstand provides additional needed light. Photo © Nancy E. Hill

With Labor Day come and gone, and Autumn in full swing, we decorating enthusiasts are getting our checklists ready to make sure we are all set-up around the house for the shorter and cooler days and cozier evenings that are coming – perhaps sooner than we’d like!

Lighting has the ability to change the mood of any room with the flick of a switch. Whether high-hats, chandeliers, table lamps, or a myriad of other options, we are lucky to have a full array of lighting options to help us turn our homes into havens – a place of refuse and celebrations during these colder months.

Most rooms have two kinds of lighting – task – the concentrated lighting that allows us to see what we need to do, and ambient lighting – to set the mood of a room. Ambient lighting is softer, and helps create that warm and cozy feeling we all strive for. So dim the overhead lights, utilize table lamps (or do what our ancestors had to do and stick with oil lamps and candles) – whatever you choose, here are my tips to cozy your home this fall with light.

  • In the kitchen…most of your lighting in the kitchen is going to be task lighting – for chopping vegetables, carving up a Thanksgiving turkey, or preparing candied apples, but the inclusion of ambient lighting lets you enjoy a pre-dinner glass of wine or a quiet meal for two. My advice is to focus the light into areas – the stronger light over the sink, stove top & prep areas, with under-cabinet strip-fixtures if possible (this also makes great ambient light when used alone!). If possible, a chandelier over a kitchen table or counter-seating will provide you with the perfect amount of light when the kitchen is closed and the cook is “off-duty”!
  • In the bathroom, glare can be an annoyance, especially when putting on your make-up and getting ready to head out! Install wall-mounted sconces or over-vanity lights beside the mirror.  Be sure and position sconces to shed equal light on both sides of the face, or 3 to 4 feet apart on the wall.  Bathroom fixtures should have translucent shades to diffuse light, and exposed bulbs should be frosted to cut glare.  Light the shower interior with waterproof fixtures for uniform brightness and be sure you’ve installed dimmers in the bathroom—a relaxing soak in the tub demands it.  A chandelier with dimmer switch is another elegant solution for over the tub.
  • In the bedroom…I love the look of a large chandelier over a bed. It can give off enough light for the whole room, or can be dimmed down for ambiance. Floor and table lamps are key in the bedroom – for reading, sewing, or just relaxing. A lamp on each night table is a traditional look, but if you want to save space, swing-arm lamps attached to the wall on either side of the bed allows you to have bed-side light without taking up precious space on your bedside tables!

Research your lighting options before renovating or redecorating. Consult with your contractor (if you need one!), an electrician, your friends (for opinions), or a specialist at a showroom or lighting store. Once your lighting dilemmas are solved you can sit back in the cozy evening glow and appreciate the shorter daylight hours!

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