the com­fort things of

There are cer­tain things in your home that are like old friends: they al­ways cheer you up. We feel the love for a warm­ing light or two

The Simple Things - - HOW WE LIVE - Words: CLARE GOGERTY

Scan­di­na­vians know a thing or two about light­ing. They tackle be­ing plunged into al­most non-stop win­ter dark­ness by fill­ing their homes with bright and twin­kling light. Nu­mer­ous win­ter tra­di­tions in­volv­ing can­dles and lanterns are held to gen­er­ally raise spir­its. Lights (no­tably multi-branched can­de­labra dur­ing Ad­vent) are placed in win­dows day and night to cheer passersby with a glow­ing beam.

The Swedes’ ex­am­ple is one we would do well to fol­low. Com­ing home and switch­ing on the lights ban­ishes the dark­ness, re­plac­ing it not just with vis­i­bil­ity but with emo­tional re­as­sur­ance. How you choose to light the home is worth giv­ing some proper thought. A sin­gle over­head light is cheer­less and de­press­ing (even more so if it’s a sin­gle swing­ing bulb), whereas pools of lo­calised light­ing are co­coon­ing and mood-en­hanc­ing. Rather than see each room as a sin­gle unit to be lit from one source, the way to mas­ter light­ing is to think of it in terms of dif­fer­ent zones. In the liv­ing room, for ex­am­ple, you may have an arm­chair you read in, a sofa to watch the TV from, a few pic­tures and plants that you would like to show off. Light each dif­fer­ently – a floor lamp over the arm­chair to read by; a ta­ble lamp be­side you on the sofa; spot­lights on a pic­ture – and any bleak­ness is re­placed by a sense of pur­pose and a mood-boost­ing at­mos­phere.

Ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, no­tably dimmable switches and LEDs, mean any light­ing is con­trol­lable. It has the power to af­fect mood like no other el­e­ment of the home, whether boost­ing the wattage of a bulb to il­lu­mi­nate a dingy cor­ner or dim­ming a lamp to make an area cosier.

Once you’ve got the light­ing how you want it, boost it by adding things that catch the light or ex­tend it, such as a large mir­ror. Fi­nally, don’t for­get the power of a sim­ple flick­er­ing can­dle to bring a lit­tle magic to a gloomy cor­ner – some­thing Scan­di­na­vians know all about.

“Com­ing home and switch­ing on lights ban­ishes the dark­ness”

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