Set the Mood

Anyone I have ever lived with will tell you that I am a freak about lighting.  The first thing I do when I get home is turn off all the overhead lights and flick on every lamp in the apartment.  Something about the recessed lighting beaming down mercilessly from above makes me anxious: it reminds me of the terrible fluorescent lights embedded in drop-down ceilings at work, which give everyone a sad pale sheen and seem to emphasize forehead grease.  A frequent water cooler joke about the weather is “it’s always 68 degrees and sunny at the office” — yeah, maybe if the sun cast tepid yellow light.  Ew.

Light from a good lamp creates a much cozier and warmer atmosphere than the standard overheads built into most apartments.  Good lighting creates an element of “hygge” (Danish word that loosely translates to a cozy vibe; Google it, you’ll fall in love) that just makes you feel good.  You can also use lamps to define spaces within a room:  a floor lamp next to an accent chair, for example, suggests that it might be a nice spot to curl up with a book for a quiet moment (or, lets be honest, a place to sit and scroll through Instagram) whereas the same chair on its own is a bit more isolated and lacks a defined purpose.  Finally, a nice tall or arched floor lamp can add visual interest to a room, be it via height or a smooth curved line to break up more angular furniture.

vintage lamp in the background is one of my finest thrift shop scores

the vintage lamp in the background is one of my finest thrift shop scores

The only problem with most lamps are the price tags associated with the good ones.  I get it: it’s pretty hard to justify a $500 spend on an accent lamp when the built-ins in your apartment are free-ninety-five. But lately I’ve been having tons of success sourcing lamps from secondhand stores.  I found the lamp pictured above at a mid-century vintage shop and haggled the price down to about $20.  Ordered a new shade online, bringing the all-in price to $50.  Can’t beat that!  When you shop for lighting second-hand, make sure it actually works before you buy it.  Seems obvious, I know, but we’ve all been caught off guard by smooth-talking salespeople before.  So if you are planning on hunting for lamps at the local flea, bring a standard low-wattage bulb with you and ask the shop owner if you can plug it in to verify it works before purchasing.  Or at least ask if you can return it within 24 hours if it doesn’t turn on once you get home.

bright whites seeking forever homes

bright whites seeking forever homes at a local thrift

That’s all she wrote on lamps today… what are your tricks and tips for good lighting?  Share in the comments!


Featured image via Apartment Therapy’s interesting post about the history of the Edison bulb: link here