Ambient lighting, when thoughtfully integrated with cosy furnishings and textures, can envelop a space in a comforting and inviting glow that fosters a sense of hygge, promoting relaxation, well-being, and togetherness. Creating warm ambient lighting doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require some consideration and planning to achieve the desired effect.
We’ve compiled a list of various ways ambient lighting can be used in small spaces, along with examples of how they’re implemented in some of our featured homes.
1. Using LED Strips
One of the most versatile tools to make use of are LED strips. These slim, flexible strips can be hidden along the edges of furniture to provide a soft, indirect glow without overwhelming the space. In Project Jordaan, designer Marijn Kruikemeier added strip lighting to the bottom of the full-size kitchen, emphasising the floating counter and creating a more spacious feel. The entire kitchen is now gently illuminated, from underneath the counter and by three additional wall-mounted lights acting as both ambient and task lighting.
2. Highlighting Art and Décor
If you’re a collector of designer artwork or have vintage décor you’d like to highlight, what better way to do that than by shining a spotlight on it? A small, wall-mounted lamp can be a great way to draw attention to and bounce light off focal points in the room, which is what designers Carla Radoll and Bruno Graca did in Apartment 33. Their wall-mounted swing-arm light in the living room provides a great deal of flexibility, transforming between a dedicated reading light and a spotlight that accentuates a cherished painting hanging behind the sofa.
3. Bouncing Light Off Ceiling
An ingenious technique to expand the sense of space in a room is by bouncing light off ceilings. Architect John Procter showcases this technique in Shoji Apartment‘s kitchen, where light is directed upwards to create a warm, indirect glow that spreads throughout the room. Light reflected off the ceiling also creates the illusion of more height in the space.
4. Wall-Mounted Fixtures
Wall-mounted fixtures, including sconces and wall lamps, free up precious floor and table space. These fixtures come in a variety of styles, allowing architects and designers to seamlessly integrate them into any design concept.
For example, Gon Architects installed striking red ‘Applique A Volet Pivotant’ wall lights designed by Charlotte Perriand in the entry passage of Sola House, matching the colour of the shelves in the living room. Light can either be bounced off the wall or ceiling by pivoting the aluminium shade, providing indirect illumination to the space.
5. Using Shades and Diffusers
Shades and diffusers offer a subtle yet effective way to manipulate the quality of light. Soft, sheer shades can soften the harsh glow of a bare bulb, while textured or coloured shades can cast intriguing patterns and hues across the room. A sculptural lantern hangs in the corner of beâCHâlet’s living room, diffusing warm light throughout the room with soft, interesting curves.
With the right ambient lighting, small homes can be transformed into inviting and visually captivating spaces. These different ways allow architects and designers featured on NTS to effectively enhance the size of the space, allow for flexibility and set the tone for comfort.
For more great ideas to implement in your small space, check out our Book + Essential Guide to Your Living Room bundle.