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The Big Light v Little Light:

How to ensure you never need the big light


By Matthew Currington, Technical Director, The Lighting Superstore  

Princess Diana’s London home has just been listed on the market and interior photos reveal her fondness for ambient lighting, with each room showcasing an abundance of scattered ‘little light’ sources creating a warm and homely atmosphere throughout.


But love for the ‘little light’ is not just a royal love affair, it is also a recent TikTok trend with Gen Z and Millennials expressing a common disdain for bright, harsh lighting from the main 'big light' in rooms, especially in open-plan kitchen/living rooms and bedrooms.


While bright, cool temperatures in lighting are great for concentration, they’re not conducive to a calming, relaxing atmosphere which many of us sorely crave after a long day of studying or working under fluorescent work lamps.


Plus, ambient lighting supports our circadian rhythm in preparing for a good night’s sleep, with warm sunset tones signalling to our body that it is time to release melatonin.

So here are my five top tips on how to place small lights cleverly and decoratively throughout your home, giving the big bright light a miss altogether. 


Scatter lighting


To achieve the ultimate ambient interior, don’t be afraid to generously scatter lighting around the room but be sure to do so in layers.


Use all corners of the room, both high and low and don’t forget to incorporate floor lamps, table lamps, and wall sconces to layer your lighting effectively. Combining different types of lighting will create a balanced and inviting ambiance in your home.


Place floor lamps in dark corners, illuminate the lower shelf of a bookcase with a table lamp and use strip lighting along shelves or cabinets, or along the back of the TV.

Another great tip is to use your existing décor to enhance basic lighting. For example, if you have indoor plants, especially large leaf varieties like monstera or palms, place a small light behind them on a table. The shadows cast by the leaves will create interesting, dappled patterns, adding a cosy and visually appealing touch to your space.


Try unusual lighting


To create something unique and fun, try unusual lighting options, but remember to stick to warm tones. For example, some lamps come in different shades of colours, casting a warm hue across the room. Opt for colours like amber, rose, or soft gold to add a touch of elegance and warmth.


If you want to dazzle your guests, or even yourself, consider lights that cast a starry effect across the ceiling and walls. These can transform your space into a magical, enchanting environment. Star projectors or fairy light curtains are perfect for achieving this look.


When choosing your lights, look for designs with interesting shapes or materials, such as rattan, paper, or fabric, to add texture and character to your space. Additionally, small pendant lights hung as features along walls or over hanging shelves with adjustable heights add a unique flare to the space.

Lighting Superstore

Use mixed mediums


Artificial light can mimic flickering lights that flames emit, but nothing beats true candlelight. This trend is all about having an abundance of small lights, so remember to compliment your larger light features with candles that are scattered around the room.


Try candles of all different heights, shapes and sizes to create diversity throughout the space. Including scented candles is a great idea to add to the serenity of the space. Scents like lavender, eucalyptus and sandalwood are popular calming scents to enjoy before bedtime.

Consider smart lights


Smart lights are a fantastic option for transforming your home's ambience, thanks to their wide range of colours and adjustable brightness levels to suit your mood and needs. While a cosy, ambient room is lovely, you'll need sufficient light for activities like reading or cooking.


With multiple small lights scattered around, it can be tiresome to turn each one on and off individually, especially if you have to navigate behind decorative features to reach the switches. Smart lights, however, can be controlled individually through an app, making this much easier.


Finally, while the big light is a no-go for this trend, it does provide essential lighting for tasks like finding something or working late at night. But if each small light is a smart light, they can seamlessly be switched from warm, ambient lighting to bright, task lighting when needed.

Matthew Currington, Technical Director
©2024.English Living.All Rights Reserved.
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