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Light therapy

As we move into 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. But as winter sets in, the light seems 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.

But 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 slender natural light at every opportunity – and compensate with creative lighting solutions.

So in anticipation of the clocks going back next week, here’s how to work with the weaker winter light inside your comfy, cosy 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 double pendant like the Hughes 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 one. For an even more generous triple span, try the Browning. A narrower illumination, such as the Keats or Byron, works best over a more intimate table. Or hung in a trio. Whether you’re catering for an intimate 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 such as the Fitzroy 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. The Milton is an easy mixer: 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. So ensure your tie backs are helping, not hindering. Enlist the help of a patient friend to hold curtains in place before deciding where a wall mounted tie back should go. The conventional wisdom is that it sits at one third up from the bottom of the curtains. But try different heights for yourself – and then pulled back further from the window. If they can clear the window – and you like the look – you’ll allow more natural light into your room.

If you have beautiful window frames, blinds reveal their shape most clearly. Even roller blinds – previously dismissed as poor insulators – are now designed with thermal properties.

Creative makes

Winter is a time when you can tap into your creative side. We love a simple bell jar filled with a garlands of battery-powered LEDs. Or our Savoy Christmas lights can be connected to create super-long lengths of sparkle to illuminate a mirror or mantel. 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 mercury 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. Here, 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. But they will reflect the glow of candles, lamps, a chandelier and even the weakest sunlight. All winter long.

Look out for our second volume of Stories – Stories for winter – for more talk on lighting in winter. Coming in November…


Words by Jo Leevers.

About the author
Jo Leevers writes for some of the UK's most acclaimed lifestyle magazines and national newspapers, from The Telegraph to Homes & Antiques.