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Light therapy: how to light your home in autumn and winter

Light therapy: how to light your home in autumn and winter

As we move into late autumn and winter, there’s a different quality to the sunlight. Yes, there’s less of it as dusk falls earlier and we wake to darker mornings. And the daytime light is weaker, too. More muffled, somehow. But this milkier winter light isn’t inferior – it’s just different. It can be beautiful, laced with early morning mists. Or dramatic, as the sun dips swiftly below the silhouetted skyline. And dark evenings make coming home so much more welcoming.

The quality of light can affect how we feel, so we need to consider it consciously. At home, we can work alongside the weaker light. We can beckon in the sun’s slender, natural beams at every opportunity – and compensate with creative lighting solutions.

Here’s how to work with the light at this time of year inside your comforting winter home…

Choose the right pendant

The shape and height of a pendant can have a huge bearing on how the light spreads. Over a dining table, a long pendant like Browning allows light to radiate along a horizontal plane. If you have a long, sociable dining table, this makes a lot more sense than a single pendant. A series of two or three smaller pendants in a row is another option. A narrower illumination, such as Keats, works best over a more intimate, round table.

And whether you’re catering for a cosy two or laying on a feast for all the family, dimmers allow you to adjust the brightness. Swivel the dial according to the time of day and the desired mood.

The job in hand

A bookish table lamp is the perfect way to create a welcoming reading nook. And its pool of light adds to the atmosphere of the room as a whole. But if you’re catching up on paperwork, for example, you need task lighting – a more precise, concentrated pool of light. Chetham and our desk lamps are easy mixers: elegant enough to grace a living space, but also very exact. Ensure you have a mix of task and mood lighting to keep everyone satisfied.

Window dressing

Heavy and lined curtains are great for warmth and insulation. But they can drown a window. If you can, position the pole so it’s wide enough to allow you to draw the curtains back properly. Or, opt for louvered shutters that let you manipulate the sun’s beams.

If you have beautiful window frames, blinds also reveal their shape most clearly, and they can be designed with thermal insulating properties too.

Creative makes

Winter is a time when you can tap into your creative side. We love a simple bell jar filled with a garland of battery-powered LEDs. Or fairy lights that can be connected to create super-long lengths of sparkle to illuminate a mirror or mantel (look out for these in our coming Christmas collection). For a more rustic look, a circle of white tealights makes a simple centerpiece. Set them on a high-sided vintage tin tray or in glass holders. Warm candlelight draws everyone together in its homely glow.

Tricks with mirrors

The Victorians were well-versed in how an over-mantel mirror could reflect – and therefore multiply – whatever light they had at their disposal. We’ve carried on their tradition, but a large mirror can also work wonders in other places in the home. Especially where natural light is scarcer. Try one at the top of a flight of stairs, or in your main hallway. A generous mirror along one wall subtly bounces back the available light – and seems to double the space. Or reverse the convention of the over-mantel mirror and opt for mirrors in the alcoves instead. They don’t need to be practical – foxed or antiqued mirror glass will make more of a feature. Either way, they’ll reflect the glow of candles, lamps, a chandelier and even the weakest sunlight. All winter long.

Venture outside

With several months of autumn and winter ahead of us until spring arrives, it would be a real shame to put our gardens to bed and miss out on the atmosphere that an alfresco cold weather setting can bring. Think of après ski or, a little closer to home, bonfire night and the joy that comes from being wrapped up warm but out in the fresh air.

Natural light at this time of year is magical – low and golden – but it needs a helping hand to create the sense of warmth that’s going to tempt you outside. As with your interior, light your garden in layers. String up fairy or festoon lights as the upper layer, make use of tall, cordless table lamps like our Hanover as the mid-layer, and then finish with plenty of candlelight. Hurricane vases and lanterns are perfect as they’ll protect the flames against breezes, while tealights in glass holders are simple and inexpensive yet, en masse, incredibly effective.

Jo Leevers writes for some of the UK’s most acclaimed lifestyle magazines and national newspapers, from The Telegraph to Livingetc.

Tags: Interiors