Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gemütlichkeit is: in the lighting

Don't forget the garden--sweet soft light (from La Source).
If you asked me the one thing that makes the biggest impact in the pursuit of  coziness, I wouldn't hesitate a second when saying lighting.  Probably the most important aspect of your home, lighting dictates the ambiance, the mood and even the pace of your home and of your life.  The lower lighting is, the more comfortable, relaxed and at ease you will feel in your home and the more perfect your home will look (if the lights aren't bright, no one will see that dust bunny in the corner).  

This perfect, cozy lighting--which will beautify your surroundings and make living in them all the more pleasurable--is easy to achieve by just keeping these few things in mind: 


A pretty lamp on a pretty dresser creating a cozy glow (from Pinterest).

Lamps, I am afraid, are the only way to keep the lighting in your house warm and inviting.  If you do nothing else that I suggest to you on this blog, at least turn off your overhead light for good (or save it for emergencies, like looking for your keys when it's dark or mopping up that red wine you just spilled on your new carpet).  Overhead light is not attractive, does not give your space a sense of warmth and, most importantly, drives me nuts.  Opt instead for lamps--many of them, placed all around your rooms.  As a rule of thumb, all lighting in a room should come from about eye level or below (unless you have beautiful chandeliers or overhead fixtures with a dimmer).  

Soft lighting makes this room really inviting.  (From Little Green Notebook via Pinterest)

Now that you've got a bunch of new lamps and have turned that overhead thing off forever, it's time to invest in light bulbs.  And invest you shall...

As we all know, somewhere around the end of the last decade it became a crime against humanity--and polar bears--to use regular old incandescent bulbs (oh! the wasted energy).  Now, I am all for saving the environment, but nothing (and I mean nothing, except for maybe fluorescent lights) are uglier than those horrible, curly-fry CFL bulbs that they suggested we use.  

Consequently, I dragged my heals when switching over.  I had maybe one in one lamp I never used.  Until, that is, I discovered the coolest thing: most of the big companies make "warm" or "soft" white, pear-shaped CFL bulbs these days, which look all glowey and almost like the warm yellow light bulbs I knew as a child.  (To compare the regular CFL bulbs with the soft ones, check out the image below.)  

The drawback to these awesome bulbs?  They are expensive. Really expensive.  They often go for almost 10 Euro a pop here in Germany.  However, they last a long time and save you on your energy bill, so it's an investment worth spending.  Just be sure not to cheap out and get the curly-fry daylight ones. 

Colors of CFL bulbs from warmest to coolest.  (From CFL Know How.)


This one is simple.  (Almost) always use lampshades.  The more yellow or warm they are in color, the warmer and cozier the light in your room will be.  Avoid white, blue and green lampshades at all costs. Choose off-white, cream, yellow, brown, burlap, parchment or any other warm color (pink, orange, red) that you want.  The light will look more flattering and soft.

Pretty candlelight makes a room glow and makes you feel romantic and relaxed (from Pinterest). 
The final element to perfect mood lighting is candles and plenty of them.  I have candles everywhere in my house.  There are about 10 in my living room, six in my bedroom, three in the kitchen, two in my bathroom, one on my desk and three throughout my office/guest room.  I light candles all the time, including in the morning, in the afternoon, when it's sunny, when it's rainy, when it's evening and when it's night.  Candles make everyone look like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, so you may want to consider them on your next date night...or, heck, any night!    Point is: by them in mass quantities and use them in mass quantities.  Plus, keep one in your favorite container and scent by your bedside and on your desk, or wherever you spend the most time in your house.

Candlelight gets twice as cozy when it's wrapped in a sweater (from Pinterest).
And there you go!  You are all ready to have a romantic dinner and enjoy a cozy evening in.  Don't underestimate the importance of lighting when it comes to your home.  A perfectly designed room can be completely destroyed by a too-bright overhead light.  Likewise, a home with no decorating scheme whatsoever can become an inviting sanctuary simply with a few well-placed lamps and candles.   

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