Lighten Up: How To Utilize Lighting for Optimal Coziness During the Winter Months

When designing the lighting of a winter-ready home, think about layers, color temperature and mood.


No matter the room, lighting and interior design go hand-in-hand, especially in the winter. As the summer comes to an end and the temperature drops, homeowners everywhere are starting to think about how to prepare the house for optimal coziness. When planning the interior design of a home, winter-ready lighting can be key during the chilly season.

Interior designer Catherine Schager of Catherine Schager Designs has been in the interior design industry for over 30 years, helping clients transform their homes into a place that they find beautiful and comfortable.
“Since I was a kid, I have always been interested in how my surroundings made me feel,” said Schager. “I remember always bugging my mom to change the bedspread, drapes and color of my room during the different seasons.”
When designing the lighting of a room for clients, there are a number of factors that determine the direction Schager will take it. Depending on how the room is being used—whether it is a place for work or a space that’s meant for entertaining—Schager identifies any elements that need to be highlighted through lighting to direct the general mood.
“For winter-ready coziness, I always recommend a practice of layered lighting,” said Schager. “Create different levels and positions of light sources based on what activities will be held in the room. For example, if you’re reading a good book by the fireplace, you’ll want to have a source of light that’s near your face, otherwise overhead lighting is generally too spread out for a task such as reading.”
In the colder months, Schager generally prefers the cozy feeling of lamps instead of harsh overhead lighting. “When the light emanates from lower in the room—through lamps or other low-sitting sources—it can create a soft, warm and cozy feel,” she said. “Don’t forget to consider accent lighting for decorative elements such as large plants, artwork and sculptures. The addition of this lighting along with lamps can create a welcoming and cozy feel.”
Cozy lighting is going to be different for each room in the house. The bedroom, for example, should prioritize coziness through a specific color temperature. “We’ve used incandescent bulbs to create a yellow light that is perfect for coziness,” said Schager. “If you’re working with LED bulbs, go for a color temperature of 2700K to 3000K to provide a cozier feel. It’s my professional opinion that Compact Fluorescent Bulbs have no place in your bedroom.”
For the bedroom, Schager reiterates how helpful it can be to vary the heights of lighting, with dimmer-controlled overhead lighting, task lighting for reading in bed and accent lighting for an element you might want to highlight.
“The living room can also benefit from layered lighting,” said Schager. “Ceiling lights should be controlled by a dimmer so that, as the evening progresses, homeowners can lower the level. Utilize furniture to place lamps at various heights in the room, such as floor lamps, table lamps and little accent lamps. Finally, pay attention to the color temperature of the living room light—LED cans in your room that are 3500K or above in the family room will create a very cold feel, which isn’t ideal for relaxing and cuddling up during the winter months.”
When it comes to her own designs, Schager’s design firm primarily works on kitchens. Some of her expert tips include the use of under-cabinet lighting as well as keeping the client’s wall cabinets off of the ceiling and adding some lighting up there. “This technique can be used alone or in combination with under-cabinet lighting for a cozy feel,” said Schager. “Also, toe-kick lighting can add to the cozy feel if you’re not using your overhead lighting in the kitchen.”
Whether it be the bedroom, living room or kitchen, the lighting of a room plays a major role in creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere during the holiday season.