15 Uplifting Lighting Solutions For Dark Days
Check out these winsome lighting ideas to brighten even the dullest winter days
It’s dark, it’s cold – and all you want to do is snuggle in bed with a book and a cup of cocoa. Don’t ruin your cocoon with inferior lighting. These wall-mounted RL ’67 Boom lamps are angled for comfortable reading and leave precious bedside table space for novels and mugs, while the dark wall creates a snug, den-like feel.
When buying bedside lamps, choose models with heads you can direct onto pages and bulbs that aren’t too dazzling.
The low-slung pendant over a dining table is a modern style staple, and this classic Louis Poulsen PH 3½-3 design is a chic, timeless way to do it. It may have sleek, sculptural lines, but it sheds a soft, diffuse light perfect for intimate dinner parties and gatherings.
When hanging pendants, think about what height works best for you, depending on your ceiling – will heads graze the shade if it’s hung too low? Alternatively, if it’s too high, will the chic effect be diminished?
Here’s how to perfect your pendant lights
As most of us know these days, fairy lights aren’t just for Christmas. While they don’t usually contribute much in the way of functional task lighting, they add a fairy-tale mood that makes any home feel just that little bit more special, especially in winter.
Here they’ve been strung above a bed for some everyday romance, but they work equally well in dining rooms and living rooms, too. As with any lighting, always make sure they are fit for purpose and switched off when not in use.
Many of us spend much of our lives in the kitchen, so it makes sense to think hard about your lighting needs. Fitting different circuits so you can layer different lights – spots, pendants over islands or dining tables, task lighting under cabinets and over worktops – makes practical sense, so plan your scheme ahead of your fittings and fixtures.
In this kitchen, light also feeds through from the stairwell, thanks to internal glazed panels.
The industrial-chic trend for minimal fittings – featuring vintage-style bare bulbs dangling on long flexes, as seen here – has been around for a while now, and still looks super-cool.
Combine a group for that stylish warehouse effect. Snap up long-life eco bulbs in this old-school style so you don’t need to keep replacing them.
Some people in the UK suffer in winter with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), triggered by shorter, darker days. If you’re one of those affected, consider fitting your lights with ‘daylight’ bulbs that simulate the light spectrum found during daylight hours. (You can also buy special light boxes that emit stronger light to ease you through to spring.)
We’ve all been in homes where harsh, cold or dingy lighting means its night-time vibe feels very different to its daytime atmosphere. The key to lighting that makes you feel happy and at home, especially in winter, is often using several different sources to create a more relaxing, less ‘bedsitty’ ambience.
Here, accent lighting created by table lamps and candles adds soft pools of light that complement the ceiling spots and make the room feel cosier and more inviting.
Check new bulbs and fittings will emit a light that’s the right strength and hue for your personal preference: look at the colour temperature of bulbs. For example, you may prefer a ‘warm white’ light that mimics the yellower (but less eco) incandescent bulbs of old.
Learn more about the colour temperature of bulbs
Lighting is often thought of as functional, but it can also be fun. I love this cluster of old-school fringed lampshades, which adds just the right dash of colour, eccentricity and retro style to this pale and interesting kitchen.
If granny chic is for you, old charity shop bases can easily be updated with new shades (though always get an electrician to check the wiring). It’s also simple to decorate a plain shade yourself with ribbon and fringing if you fancy a creative project.
If you’re someone who enjoys a long soak in the tub, especially on chilly evenings, then you’ll want your bathroom to be warm and inviting.
Think of it as any other room and layer lights – don’t necessarily simply rely on ceiling spots and downlighters. A mirror with built-in lights like this one adds a softer, more flattering edge to your reflection, while shelves with recessed lighting can help create a gentler, more relaxing ambience.
A bright lampshade will instantly lift a room, even during daylight hours. If you don’t do pattern, burnt orange is a classic retro shade that works well in neutral schemes, and has a lovely autumnal feel – plus it will offer a soft, restful glow when evening falls. Also think about choosing lamp shades in bold florals, jewel colours, such as teal, or geometric designs.
Check out these smart tips for matching shades and lamp bases
In this characterful kitchen, the double pendants over the island are complemented by some cheering lighting typography. At one time, light-up signs, marquee lights and arty fluorescent fancies were only available on commission or for a high price, but these days the high street is awash with affordable, sculptural lighting that adds uplifting character and personality, so shop around.
This corridor has been washed with walls of dazzling pink and blue LED lights. In general, today’s widely available LED lights are energy-efficient, versatile and long-lasting, as they don’t have a filament that burns out. They can also be programmed to give different colour effects; talk to a lighting expert for something similar.
Don’t automatically plump for small, neat lamps or minimal wall fittings. Going large with a bold and beautiful floor lamp, like this retro-chic Twiggy by Foscarini, can transform a room (if your space is big enough to comfortably accommodate it, of course).
The dramatic sculptural shape goes with the midcentury modern look, while the paintwork adds a warm splash of tomatoey colour to brighten up those long evenings.
A wow chandelier never dates. Whether you go vintage or modern, it’s a great way to cheer up a space, and add elegance and evening glamour to a room. The multiple light sources in this orb-like bespoke number add fantastical style and sparkle, so dinner always feels like an occasion.
For many people, low lights are the key to relaxing in the evening. If that’s the case for you, think about fitting dimmer switches – in every room in the house if you wish. When buying bulbs, check they are suitable for the job in hand, so you can get the twilight effect you desire – some eco bulbs don’t work properly with dimmer switches.
How do you prepare your lighting for winter? Share your ideas and photos in the Comments below.