Design 101 | Lighting

January 2016, By Nicole Langelier

Are you in a rut? Having trouble fitting into your environment? Well, lighten up. It’s a new year and discovering a new you can be as simple as a flick of a switch.

One of the easiest and most dramatic ways to transform your environment is through lighting. Lighting is often overlooked as a critical part of an interior, but the truth is it can make or break a space. Poor lighting can literally be depressing, it can make you look and feel sick and it can even make you look fat (I call it ‘celulighting’). On the flip side great lighting can relax you, it can ‘put you in the mood’, it can make you feel and look beautiful. Think of the ‘soft lighting’ used to photograph Hollywood movie stars Circa 1940’s –Marlene Detrich, Lauren Bacall, Jean Harlow – they didn’t call it ‘The Golden Era’ for nothing.

You may not be aware that it is the lighting that is making you feel so great or horrible, but just think about it for a second… Have you ever been to a gym that is dark and dimly lit? No, because bright lighting keeps you alert and awake. How about a club? Surely you have never been to a nightclub with blazing lights – no one would ‘throw caution to the wind’ if they felt that everyone was watching. What about when you walk into a particular living room or art gallery or hotel lobby and you feel comfortable but cant put your finger on why. Good chance it’s the lighting. The lighting sets the mood.

The same truths apply to your home. Lighting is transformative so please allow me to help you improve your life and to show you the light with these few pointers.

  1. You do not live in a hospital or the DMV, so ditch the fluros. Exposed fluorescent light tubes give off a horrible light an annoying buzz and what feels like seizure inducing flickering at times. On top of all of this they are ugly. If you have naked and exposed fluorescent light tubes in your house, do yourself a huge favour and say goodbye to them forever, today.
  2. Cool globes are as bad as fluro lights. So many people are totally unaware that there are two types of standard globes you can buy – warm and cool. Warm lighting gives off a soft slightly yellowish glow that is a bit like sunlight – warm and welcoming. Cool globes give off a whiteish blue light that is rather sterile and hospital like. Just check the box when you are at Bunnings and look for ‘warm white’ on the side. Also be sure to go around your house and replace your cool lights with warm one’s as people will often unknowingly have a mix of both. Once you are aware that there is a difference you will pick up on it right away.
  3. It’s good to have choices in life. Lighting is never ‘one size fits all’ so set yourself up with a bit of mood lighting or ambient lighting. This means that you don’t always have to rely on overhead lighting that usually gives you little choice beyond ‘on’ or ‘off (unless you have your lights on a dimmer – which I highly recommend!). Lamp light can be your best friend. Floor and table lamps can provide just the right amount of atmosphere when positioned around the room properly. Consider corners for your lamp light as the effect of the light shooting up a corner can be rather calming.
  4. Switch it up. Make it easy for yourself by setting up your ideal lighting situation using one or two power-boards designed exclusively for your ambient lighting. Turn them on and off at the power switch so you don’t have to spend 10 minutes running around your house turning on individual lamps.
  5. Let the sunshine in. Look, even here in sunny Australia we could all use a little more vitamin D, so soak it up where you can and let some natural light shine into your house whenever possible.

I hope these tips have enlightened you. My goal is to bring you joy through simple smart changes you can easily make to your home. There is no reason to settle for anything less than a blissful home life, so walk towards the light and find yourself in a better place all around.