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Warm Ambient Lighting: How to Use it in Every Room

a living room with soft ambient lighting from fairy lights and candles

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Everyone wants to come back to a home that feels warm and welcoming after a long day.

Lighting plays a huge role in the atmosphere of any space, and while every type of lighting has its place in interior design, warm lighting comes out on top to aid relaxation.

This includes all lighting with a warm colour temperature, such as warm white, yellow, orange and red.

When it comes to creating an ambience conducive to relaxation, soft lighting is also key. The low intensity of the light reduces the strain on your eyes, making it easier for your body to unwind.

When we combine these elements of warmth and low brightness, it results in lighting that emits a gentle glow, similar to that of an open fireplace or a sunset.

Warm ambient lighting for homes is best used when it's dark outside, and this is due to its effect on the Circadian Rhythm.

Definition: The Circadian Rhythm regulates our body's sleep-wake cycle over 24 hours. Light plays a crucial role in synchronising this rhythm. Warm-coloured lighting in the evening helps signal the body to wind down and prepare for sleep by promoting the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

From winding down before bed to date night romance, cosy home illumination is a versatile tool for uplifting your mood.

We'll explore how to layer lighting to achieve the perfect gentle glow and the best ways to use warm ambient lighting in the main rooms of your home - all without changing your built-in lighting!

How to Layer Warm Ambient Lighting

a living room with soft ambient lighting from fairy lights and candles

You may have the lighting tools you need to create the perfect cosy ambience in your home already.

Any lights with adjustable brightness and warm temperature lightbulbs can contribute to the soft glow you're aiming for.

But it's important to mention here that one of the main techniques for creating effective ambience is light layering. This essentially means placing multiple small light sources around a room, spreading an evenly balanced glow which is gentle on your eyes and achieves a relaxing atmosphere.

In our opinion, it's best to turn off overhead lighting (unless it has a dimmer switch) and focus on incorporating multiple light sources at different heights and angles. This adds depth and dimension to the room.

Below are just a few of the options that work well for light layering, but you can get creative and use what you already have in your home. It might be a case of simply adjusting the placement of your lights to soften the brightness.

Table Lamps

a table lamp on a bedside table

Small table lamps can be used to create soft, warm ambient lighting in any room, on any surface, and with an endless range of designs available, you can fit them into any interior design style.

You can use table lamps as bedside lights or as accent lights on a console table, side table, or shelf. Experiment with different heights and sizes for a layered effect.

Opt for lamps with warm light bulbs or lampshades which soften and spread the light.

Consider warm-toned lampshades or bulbs in yellow, orange, or red for added warmth.

String Lights

warm string lights wrapped around a small house-shaped ornament

String lights or fairy lights spread small spots of light across the room, creating a balanced illumination.

They're versatile as they come in many forms, colours and shapes, and you can easily adjust them thanks to their flexible design.

You could wrap them around staircase bannisters, mirrors, picture frames, or shelves. Place them in the junction between the wall and ceiling of a room, across the backboard of a bed, or in a see-through jar to create a lantern effect.

Note: If you use fairy lights, opt for LEDs or lights that don't get hot as this can be a fire risk.


someone lighting 2 pillar candles next to kitchen ornaments

The act of lighting candles and their gentle flickering glow enhances cosiness and intimate ambience.

Candles can enhance a relaxing bath or romantic dinner, or help you relax as you read a book or watch a movie.

They're perfect for any room and come in various designs, making them the perfect lighting addition for a warm atmosphere.

Additionally, scented candles can further elevate the ambience by offering a delightful fragrance.

Note: Keep candles away from flammable items and walls. Keep them on non-flammable surfaces such as marble, and in protective candle holders.

LED Strips

an LED strip built into a ceiling panel

The versatility of LED strips makes them an amazing tool for creating a beautiful ambient glow.

You can use them to enhance your home cinema or gaming experience by concealing them around the edge of your television or computer screen, creating immersive backlighting.

Add illuminating accents to bookshelves, mirrors, or picture frames. They can also provide under-cabinet lighting in kitchens or bathrooms.

Affordable and easy to install, they're ideal for achieving a lavish and chic look

Tips & Tricks for Warm Ambient Lighting in Every Room

1. Kitchen - Soothing Lights for Cooking

a cute and cosy kitchen with blue cabinets and warm, soft, ambient lighting

While your kitchen might not be a room you associate with relaxation and cosiness, warm ambient lighting might be able to change your mind.

Kitchens tend to rely on overhead lights, which are often cooler in colour, creating a more clinical look.

Layering other light sources can instantly transform the appearance of the room and make your kitchen feel more inviting. In turn, doing chores, such as cooking and the dishes, becomes more pleasurable and less laborious.

Explore some of the ideas below and implement what works in your kitchen.

  • Candles: When placed centrally on a kitchen island or next to a window, candles can make your kitchen feel warm and inviting.

  • Countertop lamps: Adding a lamp to your kitchen surfaces can instantly add a soft glow, which is especially effective when placed in the darker corners.

  • LED lights under cabinets: If you don't already have undercabinet lighting, placing LED strips which have a warm colour temperature setting can be a great alternative.

  • String lights: String lights can be fastened around kitchen windows, picture frames, shelving or doorframes to create a cute and cosy effect. They can also be used in place of LED strips as under cabinet lighting.

2. Dining Room - Romantic Ambience for Relaxing Dinners

a small dining table in a dining room with soft, warm, ambient lighting in the form of string lights and candles

A romantic dinner is incomplete without warm ambient lighting.

Candles, small lamps and string lights can be layered in your dining space to make it more inviting and intimate.

Check out some of the ideas below to create a romantic vibe in your dining area.

  • Red lighting: Red lighting is beautifully effective in dining spaces, supercharging warmth and elevating the romantic vibe. You'll often find bars and restaurants use red lighting to create this type of atmosphere. You could achieve this effect with small table lamps with red coloured lightbulbs, candles made from red wax or red glass candleholders.

  • String light centrepieces: By putting some battery-powered string lights in glass jars, you create a lovely centrepiece for your dining table. This is perfect if you want to avoid using candles due to the fire risk.

  • String light canopy: To create a string light canopy above the dining table, drape the string lights in a crisscross pattern across the ceiling, securing them with adhesive hooks or clips for a whimsical and enchanting ambience. This is perfect if you want to ditch the overstimulating brightness of your overhead light.

3. Living Room - Soft Evening Lighting for Winding Down

a living room lit with soft warm ambient lighting

The living room is a space for hosting and relaxing, both of which are made better by this type of ambience.

Optimal light layering is especially important in the living room as this is where you're likely to spend prolonged amounts of time.

You want soft lighting for relaxing, but not so dim that you can't see.

Combine string lights, table lamps, and LEDs to brighten dark corners and evenly spread light through the room.

Positioning the lights closer to the floor can help disperse the light as it rises, creating a more gentle, diffused look.

Delve into some further suggestions below to supercharge your living room's relaxing quality.

  • Light your fireplace: This is a no-brainer for cosiness! As well as providing warmth, a fireplace creates that signature glow we're looking for.

  • Create a light wall: Dedicate a wall in your living room to light. Create whimsical shapes with flexible LED strips, hang curtain fairy lights or a neon sign.

  • TV backlighting: Use trusty LEDs to backlight your television. With all the lights off it creates the perfect cinema experience

  • Sunset lamps: These lamps mimic the golden hour sunrays created by a sunset. Perfect for wintry evenings when the sun sets earlier

4. Bathroom - Cosy Bathroom Lighting Ideas

Bathroom sink area with white tiles, a pink sink and warm, soft ambient lighting

At the end of a long day, the bright, clinical lights typically present in bathrooms can make us feel more awake.

While this may not be an issue in the morning, when we use the bathroom before bedtime this intensity of light can make it harder to fall asleep.

Creating soft ambient lighting in the bathroom perfectly complements your nighttime routine, giving you a warm glow to brush your teeth, wash your face, have a bath and wind down for bed.

Explore the ideas below to find that sweet spot lighting for your bathroom.

  • Waterproof LED strips: Place some warm LED strips around your mirror, around your baseboard or conceal them under shelves to create a soft ambience. LED strips can illuminate any dark corner and make your bathroom feel more inviting.

  • Cordless lamps: Place a small lamp with a warm bulb on your bathroom counter and switch off the ceiling light to instantly turn your bathroom from cold and overstimulating and into a soothing sanctuary.

  • Nightlights: Place a cordless nightlight in your bathroom for those middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom. It will provide enough light to see, but soft enough to keep you sleepy, making it easier to fall back to sleep.

  • Candles: A bathroom can be instantly uplifted by candles. Use them as a cosy accompaniment for a relaxing bath or pamper routine. If you opt for scented candles they can help to negate unpleasant bathroom smells.

  • String light jars: As suggested for your dining area, putting battery string lights in jars provides you with a homemade lamp. Plus, the jar will protect the lights from water damage.

5. Bedroom - Gentle Lighting for Bedtime Comfort

A small bedroom with white walls for single bed, candles and string lights strung over the bed

A relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom is vital for a good night's sleep.

If you're relying on the ceiling light to illuminate your sleep space, it could be hindering the ambience much needed for full relaxation.

Not only is warm, cosy, ambient lighting ideal for pre-bed tranquillity, but it also complements an intimate environment for you and your partner.

We've laid out some bedroom-specific ambient lighting suggestions below.

  • Remote control lights: Getting up to turn off your ambient lights could disrupt the relaxation you've worked hard to cultivate. Remote control lights let you switch to darkness without leaving your bed.

  • Projector lights: Relaxing projector lights are perfect for the bedroom. With a range of types available, the sunset projector we mentioned earlier would work perfectly for evening ambience or any projector light with a warm colour setting.

  • Bedframe fairy lights: Wrap warm string lights around your bedposts or hang them along your bedboard for a magical glow.

  • Diffuser lampshades: Soft lighting is vital in the bedroom, and lampshades that gently diffuse light are perfect for reducing brightness intensity. Paper lampshades do this especially well owing to their natural colour tone.

  • Red lamps: Some studies show red light before bed can help to increase melatonin production (the hormone that makes sleepy). Use a lamp with a red lightbulb for ultimate relaxation.

However you choose to cultivate the perfect ambient lighting, stick to the simple rules of layering light, softening intensity and creating warmth.

How do you achieve the perfect cosy ambient lighting in your home? Please share with us in the comments!

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