Make or break lighting-21st Mar 2022

The Inglenook

It seems appropriate at this Equinox point of the year, when the light is balanced between day and night, to talk a bit about lighting.

I mentioned the inglenook fireplace yesterday as a decorating challenge. There really isn’t a lot you can do to change something like this. It is going to dominate the room. There is nothing for it- you are going to need to work with what you have.  I took this picture with only the afternoon light coming in from the West and the little lights on in the inglenook. We had those put in as it was very dingy without them and they are special LED amber glow bulbs as normal LED bulbs are too harsh. The inglenook, on its own and in this lighting, doesn’t look all that lovely or welcoming. Give the old girl a break- she is 289 years old.

The decorating exercise in the dining room was about trying to create something a little less rustic and, along with the colours of the paint, lighting can be used in the same way that a theatre lighting designer might, to highlight the things you need or want to see and deliberately cast the rest into shadows.

The usual “rules” about painting ceilings in a light colour to reflect natural light have been well and truly broken here. Dark colours recede and the dark, matt, unifying treatment of beams and ceiling seems to lift the whole thing up and off of our heads. It is actually far less oppressive than it was before and it is very cosy at night. It’s a room that is used mostly in the evenings anyway, and not our only sitting room, so we feel we can get away with it.

Do we need all these lights?

I took the photo above with all the lights bulbs at full strength. There are dimmable spots up in the beams and dimmable lights over the table. When you really NEED to see what you are doing, the light is available. I am sure that many of us grew up with just one light hanging in the middle of the ceiling. These were usually fairly useless in the “need to see” department and usually just quite cold and depressing. The funny thing is, I doubt if many of us really noticed. It’s just how things were back then. Now we have choices.

Come in. Sit awhile.

We can use light to create mood and atmosphere. The French lights over the table can be raised or lowered as needed. We find that if we get them in just the right place, the light falls on the food but is not in our eyes AND we can still see each other underneath the ceramic lightshades. It’s a fun game!

Lighting 101. Makes sure that no one in the room has to look straight at a bare light bulb! We both sat in all the chairs in the room to make sure. A guest is possibly going to be too polite to tell you they are being dazzled.

In our experience, the more lighting sources in a room, the better. There are 18 light blubs in this room. Nine in the adjustable ceiling spots, two in the inglenook, two like the one over the chair (there are a pair of chairs), two over the table, two on the buffet, and the one you saw yesterday that keeps “Ting” company. They are all LED bulbs, use very little electricity and 11 of them are dimmable so using less power most of the time. The ones on the buffet do double duty.

Happy plant

I had noticed for some time that this plant under the lamp seemed really happy, considering how far away it was from the window. As mentioned, this room is naturally dark. We leave this lamp, and another like it at the other end of the buffet, on most days as it just lifts the mood of the room, especially in the dark days of winter. Two bulbs, 11 watts total. Not going to break the bank. But then I read that LED bulbs can give off the right wavelengths of light to enable plants to thrive.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/feb/05/secret-to-bringing-droopy-houseplants-back-to-life-led-light

An “Ah, HA” moment!  I feel even more inclined to just leave these lights on all day now as the plants help with air quality and living things always bring something extra to any room.

An “Alfred Hitchcock” moment…

This peace lily was languishing in my husband’s office where it had become a bit neglected. A few days here in the “plant hospital” will see it right again.

I feel I need to give a credit here. We all learn things as we go along from various places and, over the past few challenging years, I have been greatly inspired and also learned a tremendous amount about decorating ideas from Kate Watson-Smyth who blogs at: https://www.madaboutthehouse.com/

Check her out.


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