The above headline is a paraphrase of a question a reader emailed us with (and one that is commonly asked by those seeking to go green).
Creating eco-friendly interior lighting without sacrificing a warm ambience is not as difficult as it may seem. One obvious way to do this with existing lamps and fixtures is to replace bulbs with energy-efficient ones. Like many green ideas, this one also brings a cost benefit as the bulbs not only use less energy but have longer lives. Be sure to make your selections carefully as there are now many “natural light” versions of these bulbs that cast a more golden, rather than blue, light. In fact, most CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) now indicate if they are “cool” or “warm”, so you can choose the best bulbs for everything from task work to ambient light.
Candlelight creates instant ambience – when used strategically. Clusters of tea lights or votives in short colored glass on a dining room table or sideboard provide softer, flattering light for your guests while allowing for easy eye contact and dinner conversation. Tall tapers on a mantelpiece add drama and evocative light. Try a variety of different pillar sizes in staggered heights for a sculptural look. Just be sure that you always choose beeswax, soy or vegetable wax blends – never paraffin.
My favorite and most truly environmental approach is to look to the natural world right outside your windows, skylights and doorways for help. Especially in spring and summer with more available daylight, consider opening or removing heavy curtains or drapes, or raising blinds to let the light shine in. You may discover an entirely new view of your rooms that can inspire editing or rearranging furniture and décor accents for a fresh seasonal update.