If the long, dark winter days have got you down, it may be time to warm up your home's lighting. While adjusting your lighting may not be something you think about on a daily basis, you'll be surprised how much adding an extra table lamp or switching lightbulbs can alter the mood of a room. Don't believe it? Take the challenge: Try one of these nine lighting tips, and we're willing to bet you'll find the results to be illuminating.
Vary your light fixtures.
Nothing screams "dorm!" louder than an unflattering fluorescent light flicking overhead. If you live in a rental apartment with harsh built-in lighting, investing in a couple of table and floor lamps can dramatically change the mood of your living room. For a homier vibe, choose a mix of light-diffusing shaded lamps placed at varying levels (table and floor) and task-specific lamps for your desk or favorite reading nook.
Never underestimate the power of a different lightbulb.
The next time you're in the lightbulb aisle debating between "cool white" and "warm white," take a peek at the Kelvin temperature listed on the box. For a warmer, more golden glow, choose one with 2,700 Kelvins or less.
Install a set of sconces.
Whether above the bed, beside the bathroom mirror, or over a mantle, sconces cast a cozy light that makes any room feel homey. Instead of using a single intense light source, scatter multiple low-wattage fixtures around the room to produce a softer light. Hardwired sconces are a surefire sign of a grown-up home, but if you rent or don't want to call an electrician, check out our 13 favorite plug-in sconces.
Look for light-diffusing lamp shades.
Light that scatters around the room is more flattering than light that's directed in a single spot. To get that ethereal glow, choose semi-opaque fabric lamp shades made of linen or cotton, or look for frosted glass sconces. In Scott and Kristan's Arts District loft, above, fabric accent lamps lend an intimate vibe to an industrial-style space.
Light some candles.
Besides making everything look more magical, there's something about the old-school charm of a flickering candle that reminds us to slow down to eat, read and talk to one another. Light candles before friends stop by to cast a warm glow, and set a relaxed vibe. Take a tip from The Brunette One and use a wooden tray to corral taper candles on your coffee table.
Fake the look of recessed lighting.
Recessed and under-shelf lighting not only make a room feel cozier, but they also call attention to interesting architectural details. To imitate the look without actually cutting holes in a shelf, attach small lights to the underside, as Christina Mella did above.
Extend string light season.
Leaving holiday lights up all year long puts your home at risk of feeling like a dormitory, but there's no harm in letting them linger at least through January. Instead of wrapping the entire room, keep it subtle by lining just one shelf or by placing the strand inside a glass lantern.
Don't forget about dimmer switches.
Psst...here's a decorating trick I learned from photo shoots: Put a lamp on a dimmer switch so you can easily adjust the level of light in the room. Available at most hardware stores (check out this $13 option at Home Depot), a plug-in dimmer lets you control any table or floor lamp with an incandescent or halogen bulb.
Get a grown-up nightlight.
Ambient salt lamps—like the one above from Urban Outfitters ($34)—set a mood without really illuminating the room. Glass lanterns filled with flameless candles and low-wattage pendant lamps work similar charms in a small space. Set one out on a shelf or bedside table to give your space some glow.
Think your home hasn't reached peak cozy yet? Try these 7 steps to your coziest home yet.