LET THERE BE LIGHT
Your home is your sanctuary, filled with thoughtfully chosen pieces to make you feel comfortable and at ease. It is therefore important that the lighting in each room is a complement to the space, as light strongly influences how you perceive your surroundings. But when it comes to lighting in the home, it can be tricky to know where to start. We have therefore compiled a lighting guide with tips on how you can better illuminate your home.
To help us in this task, we sought the advice of lighting expert and designer Marianne Tuxen, who from her atelier in Copenhagen designs bespoke lighting solutions for a wide-ranging array of clients for both private and commercial use. Her designs can be found in locations throughout the world, lighting up homes, churches, museums and libraries in innovative and beautiful ways. She has agreed to lend us her expert advice in how you can best utilise lighting to make your home a calm and wonderful space where you want to spend the most of your time.
IDENTIFY YOUR STYLE
The first thing that Marianne does when she’s working with a client is to pinpoint their specific style: “The first thing I do is to visit the space that I’m designing for. If it’s a private home, I immediately consider the taste and style of the person who lives there – do they prefer modern, pared-down interiors, or is there more of an artsy, whimsical atmosphere? That’s the first thing that informs the process, because we as people like to look at beautiful things – a lamp is no exception.”
Finding beauty in one of the most basic needs of a household – to be able to see the space – is an integral part of Marianne’s job. “What is beautiful is different for each of us – that’s why it’s important to define your point of view.” When it comes to lighting up your home, start by defining your own personal style: are you looking for lamps with clean, calm shapes and textures, or would you prefer lighting that makes a statement and intrigues your curiosity? For a lamp with a modern feel, you might gravitate towards simple, structured lines and materials like brass, metal and stone. For a more playful, whimsical vibe, look for irregular, organic shapes and unexpected textures like unglazed ceramics and natural fibres, like wicker or rattan.
“What is beautiful is different for each of us – that’s why it’s important to define your point of view.”
FOCUS ON THE SPACE
Once you’ve got a handle on the style of lamps you like, it’s time to move on to defining the space. “The lighting in a room defines how you experience that space. On the most basic level, you need to be able to see your surroundings, and for that you employ what I call general lighting. Usually it’s a softer, broad-spectrum light that can be easily accessed as soon as you enter a room. Often, it’s a ceiling light – but it doesn’t have to be. Wall lamps can be an equally great way to introduce general lighting into a room.”
Once your space is defined by general lighting, it’s time to introduce lamps with more concentrated brightness: “How you use the room is integral to how it needs to be lit. Think about where you need task lighting – it’s different for different rooms. Countertops in the kitchen and your desk or workspace need smaller sources of light that provide a stronger, more concentrated light. Whereas in the kids’ room, the most important thing is that you create a space where your child feels safe. Lots of kids are afraid of the dark, in which case they need a cosy, diffused light that will bring them comfort if they happen to wake in the night.”
VARIATION IS KEY
One of the keys to comfortable lighting in the home, Marianne reveals, is variation. “The light in a room should never be completely even – to create an inviting, cosy atmosphere, you need to work in levels. This applies to both brightness and placing. When placing your lamps, try to situate them at different heights, so that the light adds a sense of depth to your perception of the space. When it comes to brightness, our general light needs to be softer than that used for task lighting – otherwise you’ll find that you’re always straining your eyes – even if you’re in an exceptionally bright room.”
A NOTE ON THE ART OF SCANDINAVIAN LIGHT
As winter approaches and daylight slowly disappears, people in Scandinavia illuminate their homes with the help of carefully chosen lamps and candles. The light emitting from a Scandinavian home appears warm and cosy and to many, this specific type of cosy light is quite unique. According to lighting expert Marianne Tuxen, there are significant differences when comparing the light used in Scandinavia to light used closer to the southern hemisphere: “Being dominated by months of cold and darkness, people in Scandinavia are very aware of both indoor and outdoor light and how it affects them. They seek to bring balance to the cold winter months, using light to create warmth and comfort”.
If you wish to master the comfy Scandinavian light, you will need to study the interplay between mood, functionality and interior. It is an art form to get it just right – and you need to find the perfect balance between light and shadow and play with various degrees of light intensity in each room. In general, light used in Scandinavia will appear warmer in terms of nuance than in Southern countries, where light is often kept in colder nuances. However, slight variations in brightness and nuance are vital in order to obtain the natural, cosy light found in most Scandinavian homes. To give an example, Marianne Tuxen explains that functional light, which is usually found above a dining table or a desk, will naturally be brighter since you need it to focus. In contrast, light on a console table can be softer and warmer to create a cosy atmosphere. In Scandinavia, most people are aware of how they use light in their home to get mood, functionality and interior to complement each other: “The unconscious know-how that resides in Scandinavia is something that comes with traditions and upbringing. Scandinavian light is essentially an intangible awareness of what works in terms of light to create the optimal warm and comforting space within your home” – Marianne Tuxen
MARIANNE’S GUIDE TO LIGHTBULB NUANCES – THE KELVIN SCALE
• From 2000K to 3000K, the light produced is called “warm white” and ranges from orange to yellow-white in appearance. Most lightbulbs in Scandinavia are 2700K or lower: 2500K – 2200K.
• Colour temperatures between 3100K and 4500K are known as “cool white” or “bright white.” Lightbulbs within this range will emit a more neutral white light and may even have a slightly blue tint. This colour temperature is never used in Scandinavian homes since it is seen as too cold.
• Above 4500K brings us closer to the “daylight” colour temperature of light, which is 6500K – 11000K or more. Light bulbs with colour temperatures of 4500K and above will give off a blue-white light that mimics daylight.
MARIANNE'S TOP TIPS:
- Define your own style
With so many different methods and genres of lighting, it’s important to identify what type of lamp you’re looking for. As with anything in the home, the piece becomes a companion in your everyday routine, and should contribute to making your space feel like you. Take stock of your interiors and try to verbalise how you would best describe it – modern, minimalist, country or vintage, for example? Usually you don’t only have one uniform style – it will be a combination – but these keywords will help to guide you and give you a starting point of what you’re looking for.
- Define the Space
Lighting is integral to how we perceive the shape and dimension of a room. General lighting should illuminate the room at large, while smaller, more concentrated sources of light provide task lighting where needed. Don’t forget to vary the levels of brightness, as well as the height at which the lamps are placed, in order to add a sense of depth.
- Lumen over Watts
Usually we just look at the number of watts when buying a lightbulb. With an old-fashioned light bulb, you knew exactly how bright the light would be from the number of watts, whereas the brightness of modern LED bulbs – while much more energy efficient – can vary from bulb to bulb, even if they have the same wattage. Therefore, try checking up on the lumen (lm) of the bulb you’re purchasing instead, as this will give you a more accurate indication of its brightness. Look for lm on the package – the higher the lumen, the brighter the light. A 60-watt bulb should compare to 800 lm, while a 40-watt bulb should be around 470 lm.
- Make it Cosy
Undoubtedly, the most important thing about lighting up your home is that you create a pleasant, comfortable space that you want to spend your time in. That means different things in different rooms – your office should have concentrated task lighting that’s brighter than the general lighting, whereas the bedroom does best with soft lighting concentrated around the headboard.