The look of love
In the mood for a little seduction this Valentine's Day? Better check your lightbulbs, writes Kirstie McDermott
Picture the scene: it's February 14, your better half has peeled the film off a lovely Dine In For Two, bunged it in the microwave until it's piping hot and, as a result, the romance is dialled up to... three. That's because you're sitting in the living room looking at that red wine stain on the carpet and the spot on the couch where the cat sharpens her claws.
You know what would really help with this scene? Some decent lighting. Light absolutely helps our mood: while we know blue light makes us feel energised and productive during the day, the flipside is that low light works when we want to create a romantic setting as it calms our senses. That's also the reason your favourite date night restaurant (probably) isn't McDonald's.
So, first things first, "turn off the central light," instructs Niall Baker, who's the managing director at Hicken Lighting (hickenlighting.com). "The trick to good lighting," he adds, "is layering; using different light sources at different times."
Having a harsh, white, central light isn't what you need to set the mood. "Overhead lighting is unforgiving," Baker says. He suggests you create the right mood by adding table lamps and wall lights to disperse light instead. "Place a floor lamp behind the sofa too," he adds.
The ideal here is that soft-focus glow that candles give. So what does Baker suggest? "LED," he replies. You'll be excused if you gasped; while it's true that LED has had a bad rap in the past, now, it has come good. "LED can replicate candlelight," insists Baker. "It can create a terrifically romantic ambience and all LEDs dim nowadays so they're very nice. For romantic mood lighting, you want to replicate dusk or when the sun is low. You can get really nice amber light from LED."
This is all sounding madly expensive, but it can actually be as simple as the bulbs you choose to place in your existing fittings. "You won't need to get a tradesman in or swap your lighting system," Baker reassures. "The Calex Goldline range of bulbs [from €11.99] is a fantastic way of achieving warmth and dims beautifully."
The table and floor lamps that are key to creating the right atmosphere can be as inexpensive or as spendy as your budget allows. Plus, Baker points out, trends such as the popularity of marble and dark decor are helping to dictate an overall move towards a softer ambience as well.
"Reflective surfaces bounce light, and there's warmer, more tactile colouring in walls. We're seeing things like warm-toned brass used in lamps," he points out. All of which, of course, make up a mood. Being clever with the type of lampshades you buy can add impact too. "Velvet shades with gold backing are great," he points out.
- Kirstie McDermott is editorial director of House and Home magazine