Don’t let lighting mistakes rob YOUR home of it’s ambiance.

Elvis Elvis

One of my first real lessons on the power of lighting came not from a book or class, but from my husband. He is NOT a designer, architect or artist…but an engineering-minded scientist who works in the corporate world.

NOT the person I expected to be teaching me about
the softer side of Interior Lighting!

We were just starting out and renting a small but charming house. We creatively filled it with a collection of “early attic” furnishings…the cast offs from parents, relatives, and a generous boss. We had a few table and floor lamps, but I tended to flip on the closest wall switch and use overhead lighting when available.

Living in Michigan, it became dark early in the wintertime. I would usually arrive home first, and turn some lights on.

Simple, right?

Unfortunately, it never is…Our kitchen light was a ceiling mounted fluorescent. A pretty typical fixture in many kitchens. It provides blandly diffuse, even illumination and is fairly unremarkable. On a positive note, fluorescent lights are very energy efficient, making them economical AND environmentally friendly. They have their benefits and drawbacks, and I never thought twice about using it.

When my husband would pull in the driveway however, the glowing fluorescent beacon coming from our kitchen bathed our entire home in a sickly cold, unappealing light.

Our house looked like an office building…exactly what you want to see after a long day at work! In addition, anyone outside (walking, biking or driving) could see this cold, telltale glow. It was unattractive and just plain harsh.

Dont let lighting mistakes rob YOUR home of its ambiance.
And I had no idea

What I wanted was a warm, inviting home that looked cozy and welcoming in the dark Michigan night. What I got was all the charm of a discount mart. Not exactly what I was going for!

It’s a small detail, but a powerful one.

We go through a lot of time, energy and expense to create homes we are proud of…but sometimes our desired message gets lost in the translation. My “warehouse” lighting did not say “welcome”, just as an overly-cluttered look does not always say “cozy country”.

The moral of the story? Know your message, both desired and delivered.

But what was I going to do, without going to the expense of changing out the lighting? As renters we were unable (and unwilling) to change out a ceiling fixture. AND, I was not going to choose a dark kitchen (and the accidents that would be sure to follow!) simply to give my home better curb appeal!

It’s all about balance.

If you’re going to use fluorescent lights,(good for the earth AND wallet) then be sure to also turn on an incandescent accent light to balance and add a warm, soft glow. This usually means a table lamp, floor lamp, or any overhead ceiling light that uses a “regular” lightbulb. This is what I did.

The result? A warm, softly lit home. Our house looked and felt better.

Start thinking about what messages your home is sending, whether in lighting or style. A lot of the time we are too close to a situation to see what others see, but it’s worth trying.

It’s the little things that make BIG differences.

You might think my husband was just being picky, but the fact is that humans are naturally drawn to and feel better in “warm” light. It even makes skin tones look better! Upscale stores know about this and use it to their advantage in dressing rooms and at the beauty counter.

The next time you go bathing suit shopping do yourself a favor, and choose a store that selects their lighting with your self-confidence in mind!