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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Allende

This week on The Woof! As the weather gets frigid and the skies become dark...

This post is inspired by the winter months that are approaching quickly, but the principles laid out here apply all year round. Lighting is the probably the #1 most overlooked design element in a home. These are my lighting strategies for the living room space!

a cabin in the snow lit from within
Cozy cabin in the snow

In decorating and designing your home, one the main goals is to “create an environment”, whatever that may be. And in my opinion, the winter months are the time to stop and think about lighting. Not to state the obvious, but to start with, there’s a lot less natural light. And in addition to this, there are so many other important ways to use lighting strategically. Ask yourself what your pain point is. "What would I like to get out of this particular space? How do I want to use it? Am I creating a mood, such as intimacy, warmth and coziness? Do I need light to read or work? Or do I want to create a festive and lively environment for my holiday and social gatherings?

Furthermore, maybe take a second look at your space and consider what is not happening by not considering lighting seriously. Bad lighting can kill a space and devoid it of all beauty, charm and appeal. A badly lit space makes one not want to be there…

a poorly lit room
Who would want to spend any time here...?

In this post I’ll only refer to lighting in the living room. Some ideas can be extracted from here and applied elsewhere though. Contrary to common thought, lighting in the living room is not necessarily supposed to make every last thing in the space visible in detail to the eye. It can though! Recessed lighting in the living room is often criticized as a horrible design decision because “it resembles an airplane runway”. But I beg to differ, a little bit... I believe it definitely has its place. If you have a social gathering, then you’ll probably want abundant, bright light so the mood will be uplifted and fun. Think game night. People can easily navigate the space and interact with each other openly. In this case, the lighting will “match” the open and bubbly energy around. For this, recessed lighting is great.

a group of friends on game night
A bubbly environment promoted by bright lighting

But we don’t have social gatherings every day… And though a dimmer will help recessed lighting feel quieter and cozier, it doesn’t quite do the trick for these other moments. Sometimes you’ll want to sit on the couch and read a good book. Library or tasks lamps will direct light onto that one spot, almost cocooning one and promoting better concentration on the reading. Table lamps here and there, set at different heights will create a welcoming mood that will invite people to relax, have good conversations and, in general, be. Same with pendant lights or chandeliers. Even a picture light over a treasured piece of art will draw one’s attention to it, making it a focal point at a time when more intimacy is desired. All these placements, orientations and intensities will vary depending on what you want at any given time. Keep this in mind and consider having different types and sources of light in the living room.

modern reading nook with Eames chair
A good library floor lamp next to your reading spot makes all the difference. Granted, you can't see the nighttime effect of this floor lamp, but you get the idea...

And the last point I’d like to make is about warmth. A space such as a living room should probably always veer toward the soft whites to warm whites, and on occasion even yellow light. Bright white and bluish daylight tones are better suited for a kitchen or office task light. But more on that another day! I really hope this helped you get ideas for better lighting in your living space and create the best mood in your home.

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