There’s plenty to love about decorating for the holidays and how it transforms your space. Perhaps our favorite aspect of holiday decorating, though, is the way all the ambient lighting (whether on a tree, a wreath, or strung along a mantle) instantly warms the dark, cold nights.
But, with the calendar flipping to a new year, you drag your Christmas tree to the curb, and with it, that intimate, cozy vibe of your decorated space may also be kicked to the curb. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. While the stockings and ornaments may need to be stored away until the day after Thanksgiving, ambient lighting is always welcome in any space, no matter the time of year.
With strategic, thoughtful use of lighting, you can keep the warm fuzzy feelings in your home long after the holidays are over. Take it from Jordan Neman, the creative director and co-founder at House of Leon. “As people design and build their dream homes, they'll come to learn the importance of ambient lighting and the role it plays in giving a space a feeling,” he says.
Ready to get that warm, cozy feeling back? Scroll on for a few easy ways to embrace ambient lighting.
Meet the Expert
- Jordan Neman is the creative director and co-founder at House of Leon, a furniture company bridging the gap between style and affordability.
- Yoselin Castro is a senior interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors.
Add Dimmers to Overhead Lighting
Poor overhead lighting. A few bad experiences with unfortunate overhead lighting in a dorm room may have you steering away from using it at home. It’s long-lived with a bad reputation—Mariah Carey once called overhead lighting “abusive”—since it can be harsh on facial features. “It doesn’t set a mood like ambient lighting and relies solely on the brightness and color of the bulbs used,” Neman says.
Still, overhead lighting can be a necessity, especially for larger spaces when lamps simply won’t cut it. “If you solely rely on lamp lighting, a space can feel too dark,” Neman says.
The key to not hating your overhead lighting? Dimmers, which will allow you to control the level of light depending on the time of day and mood you’re seeking. They’re usually easy to install yourself (though, if you’re not comfortable with the process, hire an electrician) and instantly transform a severely lit space into a soft, intimate one.
Get Creative With String Lights
Thought string lights were destined to live in your holiday storage bins for 11 months of the year? Think again. Yoselin Castro, a senior interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors, says petite twinkle lights can up the ambiance in a variety of spaces. Here are a few of her ideas:
- Drape string lights around a headboard or bookshelf
- Loop the string lights around the stair rail
- Display them in your patio or backyard for magical al fresco dinners
- Outline a hallway opening or a door frame with string lighting
- Layer them above the home bar for a moody aesthetic
- Create a string light canopy above your living room, perfect for creating a mood for family movie nights
Be Strategic with Floor Lamps
Floor lamps are workhorses of living spaces, combining fashion and function. Not sure where to place one? The best way to position a floor lamp depends on the layout of the room. For smaller spaces, Neman suggests tucking a floor lamp into a corner to serve a more functional purpose.
Bigger rooms allow for greater flexibility with floor lamps. “For larger living rooms with multiple sitting areas, the floor lamp can be treated like a statement tree of sorts,” Neman says. He suggests adding multiple floor lamps of different heights to the room, which draws your eye up and down, resulting in a more interesting-looking space.
Don't Forget About Table Lamps
Every bedside table and side table begs for a table lamp to emit soft lighting. There’s no strict rule of thumb when it comes to lamp size, Neman explains, but he recommends stepping back and taking in the whole picture. Consider the furniture surrounding the lamp as well as the table it’s sitting on to ensure every piece is proportional. That’ll ensure your table lamp feels right at home.