Every year I’m taken by surprise the first time I have to switch on the lights inside before 6pm, or, the sun has dipped so low it’s catching the corner of a picture frame and casting dizzying reflections onto the wall. This, and noticing it’s more possible to see into the now lit up front rooms of the houses I pass by, has left me musing on lights – how lighting can work from a practical point of view as well as make a room the most cosy and inviting.
As the evenings draw in and the temperature drops, a warm glow from the fire, back lit with some lamps can create a magical cosy corner.
Striking the balance between lights that are functional but not forceful is key. While strong light does have its place - to give focus and clarity to practical jobs so you can see properly to chop vegetables or thread a needle - I’d say ‘glowing not glaring’ is my lighting motto. Often inspired by the classical form of vases, urns and jars, lamps, and their shades, are beautiful objects in themselves when unlit. In my dusky travels I’ve also spied the wonderfully elegant, opaque globe of an old oil lamp that has been converted into an electric light.
With our large range of colours and patterns, it will be easy to find the pottery lamp you are looking for to warm up your interior.
To achieve that gentle glow, some rooms might demand more lamps (with lower lumens) dotted around on tabletops, sideboards or windowsills to reach optimum illumination. Hallways and other corridors we tend to move through can often be forgotten, but these spaces can often benefit from soft, decorative lighting on a small side table. It can all lead to quite an eclectic collection of lights to cover each different room’s needs. Lit or unlit, every piece will command its own attention as well as anchor the space it occupies.
Directional light, like that low sun I mentioned, or even thinking back to the quality of candlelight, is more natural (and human). The light and shadow it casts draws out the three dimensions of the objects, furniture and space around us rather than placing it, and us, ‘on stage’ in the constant spotlight that often comes with downlights. I find downlights are too evocative of relentless overhead desert sun or the startling glare one faces on the dentist’s chair!
Whether it’s spectacular fireworks, vast arrays of colourful lanterns, strings of tiny lights or flickering birthday candles atop a cake (mine is becoming overcrowded!), we use bright, ephemeral lights for celebrations. A final touch, and a good trick to have up your sleeve, is to have a string of fairy lights set up permanently around the edge of the room or draped over a mirror to switch on when the occasion calls for it, or simply to give an everyday kind of evening a tiny bit of sparkle and magic.