American « Cosy », Danish « Hygge », Swedish « Mysigt ». So many words to define this sensation of pure comfort. But what are the keys to reach it ? In my opinion, and as far as I’ve learned from my experience in Sweden, candlelight is key.
From candles to light bulbs close to candlelight, let’s turn to our advantage the tricks some people use by necessity.
When I’m in France and asked about my life in Sweden, one question rises above all the others : "OMG but how do you deal with winter ??". Fair question and my answer is always the same. Sure, you have to manage your exposure to sunlight unless ending up completely depressed in few days. BUT, Swedes have a secret to deal with it, of which they are not even aware of. They are the best to manage lights and to create the cosiest atmosphere which will transform the nearly-endless nights in a welcoming and relaxing cocoon. And trust me, it helps.
Ingredient #1 : candles
As I was speaking with a Swedish friend, she was surprised that lighting up candles everyday for no special occasion was completly new to me. In France, candles are used as christmas decoration, in restaurants, for romantic dinner and, of course, on birthday cakes.
But, unlike us, and as easily as we open a bottle of wine (yes, that’s our reputation…), Scandinavian people light up candles. It’s considered as another light source and not only as a simple decoration item.
How right they are! It brings such a feeling of well-being that there’s a huge difference of atmosphere before and after lighting them up.
Ingredient #2 : balance between glow and shadow
Generally speaking, Swedes keep their home in a soft and diffuse light. When France use a global bright light in the centre of the room to have a clear view on everything, Sweden prefer to turn on several lamps in different places, to keep the space in a subdued light.
This has nothing to do with a new way to make their place look stylish.
As I’ve experienced it, it’s a natural behavior when you are facing such a long time of darkness. When night is falling at 15:00, you can feel your body naturally slowing down, taking the absence of sunlight as a signal to go to sleep. Try to stay in bright white light until then to 22:00 and your eyes will hurt and you will feel more exhausted than ever. Why ? Because you force yourself, your body and your mind against it’s natural rhythm for too long.
Using soft lights is like putting your body to sleep. At least, it will help you to slow down and relax. And that’s what we are looking for when creating a cosy atmosphere, right ?
The secret of the candlelight effect
Speaking about candles and soft lights, it’s all connected to two important points : the level of light and its color. If you want to create a nice and balanced atmosphere in an interior, one should not work without the other.
I won’t start a scientific lecture here so will make it really short by saying it’s all about hormones. The impact of the level and the color of the light on our moods is proven to be real.
Bright light will give you energy when lower light will make you sleepy. White to blue light will help you to focus when warm light will make you relax.
Candlelight being the warmest color with a really low level of light, it’s exactly what you need for a cosy evening during winter.
Nowadays, it’s really easy to create the perfect relaxing atmosphere by choosing the right light. Specially since the expansion of LED lights and all the new designs of beautiful decorative light bulbs.
All you need to check is the color of the light, also called "light temperature". For candlelight, it will be between 1500 and 2000 K (when most common lights are around 3000 K or more).
As for the level of brightness, you should keep it under 300 Lumen.
If you want to use lamps you already have, put them in places and in ways that will make them as indirect as possible. Turn them to the wall, hide them behind your sofa, add a lampshade,… Make their light as soft as possible. And try different combinations until finding the one that matches your expectations. It’s all about feeling good so your choice will be really personal.
If you aren’t sure about going all « swedish style » subdued lighting, there is another magic tool you can use : a dimmer. This way, you’ll be able to go from bright and energetic room to subdued and cosy space.
Feeling inspired ? Eager to try this during winter ?
Enjoy a cosy evening !