Lighting the way
Light plays an enormous role in our lives. It wakes us up in the morning and a lack of light in the evening tells our brains it is time to sleep. When we are looking for a new home, we might discount one for being too ‘gloomy’ or having a garden that is in the shade for most of the day. A lack of natural light can also affect our mental wellbeing in the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as ‘winter depression’.
The storms of Easter weekend left many homes in the UK without power. Anyone who has been through this knows how horrible it can be and how revealing it is about our reliance on electricity. Lighting your home with candles makes you wonder how we managed for thousands of years without the convenience of electric lighting!
While we are not suggesting that changing the lighting in your house will ease winter depression, it can have a big impact on the ambience of your home; for example, would you want to sit on your sofa in a room lit by fluorescent strip lights? This would be very unrelaxing and would probably put most of your family and any guests on edge. Think about the places you feel most comfortable and relaxed - they are probably not full of blinding unnatural light.
Interior designers talk about ‘layering’ light, which basically means having plenty of different light sources in a room. Firstly, make the most of the natural daylight and maximise it if necessary by using mirrors, glass and light colours. If you have a lot of daylight coming in, blinds can help - especially for keeping the heat of the summer sun out.
Next come ceiling or wall lights. If you have nice high ceilings, you can use pendant lights or even chandeliers. Many homes have downlights in the ceiling, usually with LEDs or halogen bulbs. These are placed over areas you need the light, such as dining areas, and are often on a dimmer.
Floor lamps or table lamps come next, which you use as and when required. Put them behind sofas, on side tables and coffee tables to give a warm cosy light. You don’t need a high-wattage bulb unless you are using them for reading.
Finally, we come to candles. We don’t really rely on these any more - except in power cuts - but they add real atmosphere to a room and can be placed anywhere you like. The soft glow of candles is perfect for helping you to wind down at the end of a stressful day.
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