As we enter the darkest part of the year, I’m here with my third tip for making a space feel cozy: layering light! More importantly, utilizing different types and sources of light to create a cozy environment.
Light has a huge impact on how we perceive spaces. Bright light can make us feel more awake, while green, blue or white light can make us feel or look sickly, and warm, yellow light can make us feel cozy and sleepy, like we are sitting beside a warm and snuggly fire. The amount that light affects us, both psychologically and physiologically, is so great that I actually wrote my thesis on the subject in grad school. But, I won’t bore you with all the technical stuff! Instead, I’ll give you some pointers on how to use light to make your home or office feel like a place you want to be.
First of all, natural light is the best light, especially when we are in this season of short days and long nights. So open up your window shades and let all that beautiful natural light in! If you have a less than stellar view out your window, I suggest investing in sheer curtains that let light in but blur the view. One neat thing about the shear curtains is that people outside usually can’t see inside if you have a shear curtain. There is so much light reflected off your window glass that the shear curtain appears almost solid from outside. You can still maintain your privacy. Just remember to close your window with a solid curtain at night, otherwise you will look and feel like you are in a fish bowl! If you really want to block something in your view, I suggest investing in some top-down-bottom-up shades that allow you to move both top and bottom of the shade around in order to block only what you want blocked yet still let some light stream in.
Second, layer light within the space. Most rooms are built with one light overhead. This is not the best way to make your house or office feel cozy. We evolved outside for thousands of years. Outside, rarely is the sun directly overhead. Even at noon, if you are not on the equator, the sun is skewed to the north or south slightly. So, I suggest foregoing that overhead light entirely. Place lamps in rooms when you can! Layering light by placing multiple lamps in a room is key to making it feel cozy instead of lonely. Place a tall lamp in a corner and a short table lamp next to your bed or couch. Hang white lights around the ceiling or around a doorway. You can even place them on the floor behind your head board or couch for a nice cozy glow. Remember to create different visual levels (read here if you missed that one) in your lights to create interest and appeal throughout your space.
My third form of light for the coziest home or office possible, is fire. More specifically, fire in the form of candles! There is just something magical about a dancing candle flame. It casts deep shadows around a room and a bright glow on the items close to it. You don’t even have to light it. Just the presence of candles provides comfort and reminds us all of simple times and cozy, quiet nights at home. Plus, there is the bonus that scented candles help make a space feel comfortable. I have a sugar cookie scented candle and when combined with an evergreen scented candle, it will throw you into a Christmas wonderland immediately! It’s totally worth it even when visitors to my house are disappointed that I don’t actually have fresh baked cookies waiting for them (sorry friends, it’s for the love of light!).
There are no hard and fast rules about what type of lamp or light to use. Neither are there any on where exactly to put it. Every space is different. Every light source is different. Just play around with what you have. Get creative! For instance, not many people (at least in America) think to put a lamp in the kitchen, but I once read about a woman whose grandmother believed in always having a lamp on in the kitchen. She did this so that everyone felt welcome there. I thought that was a really beautiful sentiment! If that doesn’t make a home feel cozy and comfy, I don’t know what does!
Check out my blog — Sketchbook — for more interior design and architecture tips, musings, and case studies.