The Idealist

Creating ambience with lights and scents

There’s nothing nicer than a cosy evening in and choosing the right lighting can really help create the right mood. Mood lighting can be tricky to get right, especially in dim areas of your house but also in areas that have lots of natural light . But when done right, the effect is more than worth the trouble, even if you’re not looking to actually invest heavily in it. It’s quite possible to create the effect you desire in a cost effective manner through the use of some simple devices. There’s one key rule: determine the mood you want to create in a room or on a particular occasion, and then work from there. Here are some simple tips that will take you through some of the types of lights you can use to create ambience within your home at very little cost.

Candles

true-grace-black-lily-candleIf you prefer a traditional look, not much can hold up a candle to the…candle. Yes, the humble candle is perfect for romantic settings, as its soft light reflects off your partner’s eyes. And candles are often capable of some sublime fragrances that simply add to the overall mood. This True Grace Black Lily Scented Candle (£28), for example, emits a blend of violets, jasmine, lily and vanilla refreshed with bergamot.

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Of course, candles don’t simply have to be used for romantic purposes. Also from Utility Design, the Meraki Scented Candle (£12.50) has the interesting fragrance of fresh cotton, which, granted is not that romantic, but should create a sense of clean air. Maybe burn one in the guest cloakroom before your family arrive for lunch? As we said before, it all always comes down to what effect you want to create.

Flame-effect LED candles

If, however, you’re not a fan of cleaning up after melted wax once the candles have fulfilled their romantic duties, perhaps you’d do well to invest in flame-effect candles. These are LED lights designed to resemble the flame of a candlewick, and can imitate the real deal to a fantastic extent. Their convenience is what really makes them a draw, however: just switch the light on without hunting around for a matchbox, and switch it off to put it away once you’re done using it. Some of them even have auto timers. You can choose between ones where the ‘flame’ is deep within the candle and others where it seems to dance on the surface. We have to admit, we used to think LED anything was super naff here at The Idealist, but the latest generation of LED candles are pretty impressive to behold.

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Designer candles

But if the look of an LED candle just doesn’t seem authentic enough for you, never fear- you aren’t doomed to a lifetime of scraping wax off tables. Tom Dixon’s Materialism Family series, for example, include candles contained within what they describe as ‘strange milky translucent glass’. Not only do they have a much more unique look, but they also contain around 7 to 9% more fragrance than a regular candle, so the fragrance lasts longer. And they have a burn time of roughly 70 hours, so you have quite a lot of time to enjoy these. The aroma of ambrette (a musky, tobacco-like flower) and pink pepper is amazing. £125

eclectic-scented-candle-duftkerze-tom-dixonInstead of a glass container, The Eclectic Family series, also by Tom Dixon, uses solid metal copper and nickel vessels as a material and come in three striking scents. We love London (UK£55-£80, from €77) which is designed to capture the smell of red brick and London parks with crocuses and nettles, and the salty smell of the Thames at Dagenham. The scents also come as diffusers.

Bioethanol fires

If you want the look of real flames and much less of the hassle, bioethanol fires are a great substitute for regular ones. The use of bioethanol as a fuel eliminates the need for a chimney since burning bioethanol doesn’t create any dangerous fumes.  They’re easier to use than traditional fireplaces since you don’t have to physically chop up wood and feed it to the stove. And they’re smaller and simpler installations as well, so even if your home has limited space, it might be able to make room for one. Bioethanol tabletop fires are environment ally friendly as well (the name gives that away!) and range from around £20 for tabletop decorative fires to £300 and upwards for full size ones at sites like Biofires.

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Tealights

Tealights are a beautiful way to create some atmosphere as table setting at a dinner or gathering. Plus, they’re cost-effective, and so easy to clean up after once the party’s over. They can add a fun, fuss-free element to casual days too. One very popular way to use a tealight is to pop it inside one of those Mason jars, and then have the beautiful glow light up the dinner table. Here at The Idealist we get ours by the truckload from Ikea, but all the household stores have them.

LED fairylights

But if you want to string up a light next to say, your plants without those plants quickly heating up, the LED option might again be the way to go. Many LED fairy lights now come with a timer as well, so you needn’t worry about switching them on and off or conserving energy. If you want a year round festive feel to your home, a few of these lights should prove to be a nice thing to buy. We love pretty much all of these novelty ones from Not on the High Street

  • Joan is an interior design project planner and freelance writer from Boston Massachusetts who lives with her husband and two bulldog terriers outside Wellfleet on Cape Cod.

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