Scandinavian designers have a distinctive way of lighting their interiors. This unique lighting method emphasizes a sense of warm coziness. They light interiors to create a pleasant atmosphere, not just to be able to see clearly. Light and shadow are equally important elements, as they contribute to a feeling of warmth and naturalness. By follow a few of these easy tips, you can recreate that cozy Scandinavian lighting effect in your own home.
Candles, Candles and More Candles
It cannot be said enough that people in the Nordic countries love lighting candles. According to Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, about half of Danish people light candles at least four days a week and 31% light six or more candles each time. Candles create a warm, flickering light. The movement of the flame creates a sense of life and energy. There are several ways to harness the warm energy of candle light in your home decor including:
Glass candle holders amplify the light – If you want to increase the illumination factor of candles, then try using glass candle holders. The glass gets “filled up” with the light of the candle and increases the total amount of light. Try this trick in the dining room so you can have romantic candlelight dinners while still being able to see your food.
Candle holders with holes in them create beautiful patterns – With opaque, perforated candle holders, you can make beautiful shapes with light and shadow. This increases the dreamy, imaginative effect of your home decor.
Use wax LED candles for in the windows or low-trafficked areas of the house – It's always wonderful to walk through hallways and staircases lit by the magical glow of candlelight. And especially during the winter, we like to light up our windows for outside travelers at night. What we don't love is fire hazards. Putting LED candles made of wax in these areas gives you that same flickering, cozy glow without the worry of starting a fire.
Limit Overhead Lighting
To quote the Swedish fashion and lifestyle Youtuber Jenny Mustard: “Ceiling lighting is where hygge goes to die.” Hygge, of course, being the Danish word that describes that calm, cozy, joyful feeling that you get from gathering with close friends around the campfire. Creating mood lighting is very important in making a room hygge and nothing is less hygge than stark overhead lighting that makes you feel like you're being interrogated. There are a few ways to make your electric lighting warmer and cozier and these include:
Using floor and table lamps instead of overhead lighting – Scandinavian lighting in interior design tends to focus on several light sources. This creates areas of darkness as well as light. This contrast adds a sense of mystery and wonderment. You can also use a few hanging pendant lights to create this effect as long as they're not too bright.
Install warm colored light bulbs with a low lumen number – When selecting light bulbs for their coziness factor, select bulbs that are warm white or soft white in color. You want to avoid bright white lights and also lights that are way to yellow. A bulb's lumen number determines how bright it is, the higher the brighter. 1000 lumens is a comfortable brightness where you can still see quite well. This is good if you like to read, knit or do other crafty things in the evening. Lower lumens create nice mood light for entertaining guests and watching TV.
Dimmers create cozy, warm light – Have you ever noticed that restaurants often turn down their lighting at night. Dimmers are important for creating that “cozy conversations over dinner” atmosphere. Bright overhead lighting has the exact opposite effect (there's a reason why the bright cafe lighting in Edward Hopper's Nighthawks doesn't look very warm and inviting). If you do have a lot of overhead lighting that you don't want to replace with lamps, then a dimmer is an inexpensive way to make your room glow with warm, low light.
Fairy Lights Create a Romantic and Festive Atmosphere
Strings of lights, often called fairy lights, open your room up to many creative possibilities. No longer just for Christmas, light strings can be used in just about every room of the house to create a magical, romantic or festive atmosphere. White not good for illumination, per se, fairy lights are a creative way to give your home a little something extra, especially when you're hosting parties and entertaining.
Place on or around the dining table to make food look more festive – This is a particularly good idea if you're hosting a potluck or serving food buffet style. You can string the lights around the dishes or even hang a string above the table. This “highlights” the food and makes it look as good as it hopefully tastes
String along the balcony for nighttime magic overlooking the city – One of the joys of urban living is being able to enjoy cocktails on the balcony while taking in the city lights. You can capture some of that city sparkle by stringing fairly lights around the railings of your balcony or from the roof if your balcony is covered.
String up lights in the living room during a party – Whether you live in an urban loft or in the suburbs, stringing up lights from the ceiling is a great way to brighten the mood of your house at parties. If it's not a holiday like Christmas or Halloween, then there's really very few decorating options to signify, “This is a party, people!” But stringing up fairy lights is a cheap and quick way to get your guests into the party mood.
Bring the Outdoors in Through Lighting
Scandinavian interior design is heavily influenced by nature. That's why the Nordics incorporate a lot of wood and natural fibers into their home decor schemes. Even the selection of warm indoor Scandinavian lighting nods to natural phenomenon. According to Weiking, the most “hygge” light temperature is 1,800 K, which is the temperature of sunsets and wood burning in a fire. But there are other ways to add a sense of naturalness to your lighting scheme such as the following tips:
Make or buy branch shaped lighting – The beauty of trees has inspired many designers to make indoor lighting with branching forms. Some lights more overtly look like plant forms while others are more abstract. You can select the shapes that look best in your overall decor scheme. You can also wrap fairy lights around an interesting branch you foraged outside for a fun and affordable DIY project.
Create “Northern Lights” with LED light strips – The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, are enjoyed almost exclusively by the Scandinavians and the small number of other people who live in the far north. You can recreate this stunning natural effect in your home with colored LED light strips. You can place them in a discreet area and let them shine the colors onto your walls (white walls work best). You can set them to shine blue or green for a calming effect and to crate the greenish blue glow of the aurora.
By following some of these tips, you can add a warm and cozy glow to your home. When the light in your home is sufficiently hygge, you may notice that you feel a greater sense of wellbeing as well as being less stressed. Scandinavian interior design aims precisely for this effect. Indeed, they have a lot of lessons we can learn about making our homes happier places.