3 Ways to Add More Light to Your Home

I love to spread my interior design talent around, so while visiting some of my family’s homes in Finland I noticed very few lamps – and I made sure to fix that! Today I’m sharing 3 ways to add more light to your home, along with a few photos from my beautiful trip to Finland.

The river that runs beside the school my Mom attended as a child, when it froze over in the winter, it would save her a lot of time walking home.

I’m in the last week of my 2 1/2 week tour of Finland (where my parents are from) with my Mom.  My Dad passed away a few years ago.

One of the perks of having me as a house guest is that obviously I’m a decorator. And luckily for anyone who happens to be around me, I love to spread my happy atmosphere around. 😉

Mom (Hellen) and Anja

The first thing I noticed was a lack of lamps in Finland homes. So here are the three best ways to add more light into your home and ultimately create more atmosphere:

1. Limit your recessed lighting (or don’t even bother)

When we arrived at my Mother’s cousins home (above) in the small village she grew up in Kurrikka and I noticed that she didn’t have a single lamp with a shade in her main living areas… and I had to say something.

She had lots of recessed lighting as this Finnish farmhouse is brand new, but not a single lamp.

And specifically not a single lamp with a shade. This is a very important distinction. As many of you know.

Read more: One more reason to skip recessed lighting altogether.

I’ve said this before, but there are many decorators who install them only in the kitchen because when you’re cooking, you need to see what you’re doing.

Yellow Gourd Lamp

Target

Wayfair

It’s strawberry season here so this is what was waiting for us when we arrived around 5:00 pm (below). A wonderful strawberry cake made with potato starch which makes it super light and fluffy. She topped it with slices of vanilla ice cream, which gets even better when it melts into it (you can even enjoy it like this the next day).

Because Finland is so far in the North, the sun barely sets here in the summer time which makes the berries especially delicious because they get so much sunlight.

The peonies were straight from her garden, simply gorgeous!

My sister Elizabeth warned me that the Finns drink coffee all day and I’d basically be having coffee and something divine to eat approximately five times a day.  She was right.

So, if I’m recommending that you don’t bother with recessed lighting, where should your additional kitchen light come from?

2. Install a lamp in your kitchen

Anja’s and her husband recently built this farmhouse. I was quite charmed by her contemporary kitchen with black lowers, white uppers and pale Spruce tongue and groove walls.

When I saw her fabulous kitchen with the wall of windows and no uppers all along the back wall with the perfect spot on the left side for a lamp, I said, “OMG, you need a table lamp right there!”

She said, “What? In my Kitchen?” How big?

I immediately went to Pinterest and found this image (below).

Anytime there’s space for a lamp in a kitchen, it’s wonderful to have one. I have many posts where I’ve put them in, here, here and here.

Source: Missy Morrow Int. Design

This is her living room (below). Without a single table lamp. The situation was desperate.

Read more: 5 Lamps Everyone Should Have in Their Home

3. Buy Lamps with a shade (this detail is absolutely critical)

As I write this blog, I’m in the fourth house we’re visiting on this trip and I still haven’t seen a single lamp with a shade and then I realized something.

In Canada or the US, anyone can walk into a big box store (or even a hardware store) and literally stumble upon a boxed set of 3 lamps that look something like this:

Wayfair

Lamps, like coffee tables, dining rooms and bedrooms should be coordinated for a designer look, not matchy, however I would take three lamps like this, over no lamps any day.

 

Wayfair

We were in my cousins home for two nights before we drove here (in Jarvela) and his ceilings were also filled with puck lights and even a strung up contraption (that he had added) because his house was older.

The one day we went out to the shops, they were filled with little task lamps similar to this (below). It’s called a task lamp for a reason. It’s good for reading or working but it does not cast a soft, filtered light in a room.

Home Depot

Recessed lighting is best for locating your contact lenses

And now that I’m in my 4th house without a single lamp with a shade, I realized that they simply aren’t easily available here in Finland.

Anyway, back to the house in question. That evening, when we sat in the living room, Mom’s cousin Anja exclaimed that she just couldn’t stand the recessed lighting, they hurt her eyes when her husband flicked them on so he could read.

And truly the new recessed lights are super bright. I have four in my master bathroom and I never put them on.

Here we were on the first night in Anja’s living room looking at family photos (so we needed the lights on).

The only reason you need them, if you’ve lost your contacts (as I’ve said before, haha)

The next day Mom, Anja and I piled into the car and went shopping for lamps. I walked around with photos I had taken of her house so I could show her what went where. The selection was bleak.

The first furniture store we walked into, Anja confided that when they moved into their new house, she went shopping for a new area rug but saw the same one she had bought 20 years ago (in the same store), so she had it cleaned and installed it in her new home.

Schlepping from store to store felt like the days before the world of online shopping where that was the only way to source items for clients. It took way more time than it does today.

When we arrived at Pentik, I breathed a sigh of relief. Pentik is the West Elm of Finland.

And here’s how the living room looked after (below).

We bought an ottoman to fill the space underneath the coffee table and give the person on the sofa a place to put their feet up. The grey round nesting tables also came from Pentik.

Similar Silver Table Lamp

I even managed to install a table lamp beside the television.

During the evening, all four corners of your living room should be lit softly for the best effect.

Okay so here’s the kitchen with all the recessed lights on (below)!! This was taken at 11:45 pm, the sun had just set but it wasn’t totally dark yet! But wow the lights in the kitchen made you want to run and hide, haha.

And here’s the kitchen with our lovely new light. Not too big at all and it’s all you need at night when walking in and out of your kitchen.

The best lamps come with a fabric shade

When I came out of the bedroom at just before midnight (we don’t sleep much in Finland because it’s so light outside) I found my Mom and her cousin, like two peas in a pod laughing, sharing and drinking mint tea. Anja was completely delighted with her new lamps and will be buying more for the other rooms in her house!

I really can’t stress the mood altering affect of a lamp with a shade. My clients NEVER have enough lamps and it’s the first thing on the list when I’m decorating any room.

Everyone thinks the lighting solution for a dark room is to fill the ceiling with recessed lighting but NO ONE likes to have them on when you’re actually relaxing and enjoying your home.

Anja and Mom (Hellen)

Earlier I had found my Mom in the garden at 9:15 pm (below) picking yet another lettuce sandwich last night. That’s me eating one with my green juice one morning (above).

I’m in love with the Iittala glass I’m holding, you can find them in many sizes here.

I’m so happy that I was able to have this experience of seeing my Mother in her element in her homeland! It’s been so wonderful to explore the village (Kurikka) where she grew up, a place I had imagined in my head so many times. It’s really special and magical to be here with her!

Last night I exclaimed, “Where is my Mother and what have you done with her?” English is still a second language for her in Canada so she doesn’t get into great debates with anyone and I always thought that was just her personality until we arrived here where she speaks her mother tongue!

I noticed the same thing with me, since we are deep in Finland most people don’t speak English and especially her friends. Although I understand Finnish, (Mom has spoken it to me all my life) I can’t speak it enough to have a proper conversation. All kinds of things pop into my head to say but I can’t find the words to say them. Therefore, my personality is rarely expressed. Who I am at home is, of course, very different.

Every kitchen I’ve seen here has the dining area in the middle instead of an island, a trend that’s coming back to America as well. Have you noticed that?

Read more: Could a Scandinavian eat-in kitchen be for you?

It’s been really interesting for me to see all the different and efficient ways a home is designed in another country. Anja specified the dishwasher to be installed above a drawer (above right) so you don’t have to bend over while loading and unloading it! So smart!

Also, if you were following me on my Instagram stories, you might have seen the ironing board I photographed in the laundry room which folds into a drawer! So much more practical and way easier than wrangling it out from inside a closet.

One more thought about lamps…

Okay so back to lamps for second, it actually makes me sad when I see homes without them because they so transform the feeling in any space. If you’re just not happy sitting in your living room, this is seriously one of the best ways to love your home again! And, if you don’t know how to coordinate lighting, then buy the set of 3 I showed you above, it’s still better than no lamps at all!

Or, if you’d like my help creating a decorating plan for your living room (including lamps) check out my Get me Started package here. I’d love to help you create a home that fills you with happiness when you walk in the door!

PS. Okay one more amazing photo of the scenery in Finland:

Photo taken in Kauhava where we are staying for one more night

Related posts:

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

The One Thing you Need When Choosing Colour for a Room

What Every Lighting Obsessed Girl (or Guy) Should Know

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  1. Maria, so nice for you to visit with your mother to her homeland!
    My mother was Swedish and I notice so many similarities. I grew up with my granny making coffee all the time and serving it with all sorts of delicious treats. The swedish books of Pippi Longstocking–she drank coffee all the time!
    And the huge fridge/freezer–yup they have those in Sweden, too. Such clean houses.
    Finland has many people with Celiac disease, so the use of potato starch in a cake would not be unusual. My family has celiac (though it comes from my husband’s side), so I always have it in my pantry.
    My mom was in her element when she finally got to visit Sweden. She could speak fluently but my Dad knew nothing so spent all his time playing with the babies and toddlers. When I finally visited 26 years later, the one baby was all grown up and about to have a baby of her own. Her mum and dad laughed, because they remembered my Dad saying nothing at all. Most all younger people in Sweden now speak english, so I could chat with all my second cousins.

    So true about lamps. When they were supposed to get rid of incandescent bulbs some years back, I went and bought over $100 worth of them in various wattages. Of course they are still for sale….but I still have my stash.

    Have a great time on the rest of your trip.

    • LOL I need to know where you live so I can add to my stash of incandescent bulbs. The ones left around here seem to be solely the clear bulbs, not the frosted ones.

      The living room looks great with the lamps, but I’m less likely to recommend a lamp in the kitchen. I saute, but don’t fry, food and just think the stuff that happens when cooking is a bad combo with lamps. I mostly drip water on the floor near the sink and cleaning up after that is enough. Just me.

      Have under cabinet lights, a light on the ceiling plus dimmable pendants in my kitchen; no pendants and 4 dimmable cans in my parents’ kitchen plus dimmable under cabinet lights; and dimmable cans on both of our sinks. In both houses, the street lights are enough of a nightlight.

      As we get older, our eyes can get problems and they need more light to work. My advice: get dimmers that can easily accommodate all types of lights because we may run out of incandescent bulbs eventually (and hopefully the led bulbs get better).

    • My kitchen lamp comment is exactly the same as yours! Warm and inviting. And it stays on all night, too, serving as a night light for that whole area of the house.

  2. Love this post! You’re so right about lamps; they make a room livable and warm. It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to share this trip to Finland with your mom. She looks so happy!

  3. Maria,
    I recently did a DNA test and it turns out I have a lot of Finnish ancestry which I never knew (I thought I was only German and Norwegian) and I am discovering many Finnish cousins. I know very little about Finland, so your visit is especially interesting. I so appreciate you sharing about your time there. Thank you.

    Your relative’s home/yard is amazing. It looks so serene. I enjoy learning about design styles and norms in other countries. And I love having the table in the middle of the kitchen; it was that way in my house growing up, as well as my Grandparents home. I think that’s a style that should come back!

  4. I agree with most of your posts but I don’t have a single lamp in my kitchen, living room, or family room and I love it. I have recessed lighting, chandeliers, and under counter lighting and everything is on a dimmer. So much cleaner and uncluttered.

  5. I agree with adding lamps to a living room. Lamps in the kitchen is the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard of. Who has counter space and what happens to the lamp shades if you do a lot of cooking on your stove? They would get just plain dirty and dingy. Maybe if your kitchen is a display case only. There are far better ways to add light to your kitchen. Well positioned recessed lights over the counter and under cabinet lights are the best for meal preparation tasks. Ambient lighting can be provided by under cabinet lights on a dimmer or pendants on a dimmer, etc.

    • I’ve known people with lamps in their kitchens. They usually put it in a corner out of the way – maybe with some cookbooks or a plant. It has always looked very inviting to me.

  6. I love the lamp idea in the kitchen, but the cord would drive me crazy. Lovely that you spent time with your Mom. It certainly looks beautiful in Finland.

    • One of my clients had her electrican simply shorten the cord which I thought was a great idea and something I recommended to Anja in her kitchen this time! I’m glad you mentioned that! Maria

  7. I would prefer lamps as far as aesthetic goes, but we just put our recessed lights on dimmers and keep them low (unless we’re looking for a contact lens).

  8. Like you, I’m obsessed with lamps… Lamps, and antique furniture, but that’s another story. I especially love vintage lamps, and I have a hard time walking away when I find one I love. Luckily, I have no problem tearing them apart and rewiring them, because that’s very often what’s needed when you buy vintage. I’ve actually run out of places to put lamps, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from buying them!

    Regarding the recessed lighting being too bright and harsh. If you have your electrician install dimmers on the light switches for them, you can adjust how bright they are. We have dimmers on the switches for all of our installed lighting, and it really makes a huge difference.

    • I’m a lampaholic too! When shopping with friends, they always know they can find me in the lamp section, lol. Love rotating the lamps out depending on my mood. My favorite is my glass lamp that I can put different “ornaments” in throughout the seasons. I fill it with candy corn for Halloween, faux green and red apples for thanksgiving, Xmas tree, snowman for winter, faux Easter eggs, starfish shells for summer. My little addition is no matter the season, I always have a starfish mixed in. I add in string lights too, so it lights up perfectly for me to enjoy. It was my best Home Goods purchase for the right price.

      • Hi Rosemary! Sounds like a really fun lamp. I love that you always include a starfish. I’m imagining it with a snowman and it makes me smile! It’s funny, I’ve never bought a new lamp. I look at them at stores like Home Goods, but I’m just not attracted to them. I’m not sure why. But let me find a pair of lamps at an antique store or flea market, and I’m all over them!! LOL

  9. Such a delightful post! I love seeing and knowing what other countries do with design and how they live! Finland looks so beautiful! Anja did very well in decorating her home (the basics), except I do not like the kitchen curtains. But you have made it look extraordinary with what you added. I really love the windows in the living room and kitchen. So glad that you made this trip with your Mother and seeing Anja. Growing up in the 60’s we also had a table in the kitchen where we ate all of our meals. I like that new trend. I have recessed lighting only in my kitchen but would like it in a few more places just to get more light at night. The lamps did add quite a bit to the overall design. Very good!

  10. Simply charming! This felt like a mini-vacation! 1. I love the cute socks on your mom and her cousin. 2. I love that there are still pastries on the kitchen table at 11:45pm. 3. I LOVE a kitchen table instead of an island. When I was newly married I would go around our little house and turn all the lamps on at about 4pm. My husband would walk in the room and think I forgot to turn them off so he would do it for me. Now 18 years later he knows. Our home needs evening ambiance or I go a little blue. I love the warm glow from lamps. We now have at least 5 lamps (2 little ones in the kitchen, 3 in dark hallway/stairways) that are always on. Thanks to new LED warm bulbs he doesn’t stress about the energy use. And now that I have decorating clients lamps are always on the top of my list. Thank you for sharing this very personal part of your vacation with us. I want to go there!

  11. Maria,
    What a truly heart-warming post! Such a gift to see your mom in her element. It is always interesting to see how people live in other countries.
    Thanks!

  12. Maria, loved your post. Your mom looks at least ten years younger, she seems so full of light and happiness. So wonderful to see. My parents were immigrants (from The Netherlands) as well and it is nice to see that added level to their personalities. I’ll have to see if I can fit a lamp into my kitchen. Enjoy that daylight.

  13. Wonderful thoughts about lamps. But, that Strawberry Cake!!!! Sliced ice cream—never thought of doing it that way! Any way you might be able to share the recipe with us, please? The light and fluffiness created by with the potato starch just sounds delicious!!! Many thanks! Now I must go and look for lamps.

  14. I really have enjoyed these Finland posts. Traveling in Scandinavia was my favorite part of a European trip years ago. I am a retired designer, and I have always loved the way people in many parts of the world still use a table and chairs in the middle of the kitchen. Everyone in the states had it that way, too, until the island thing came along. (Was it the 70s or 80s?) At any rate, the late Dixie Carter wrote in one of her books that one big thing that was wrong with America was the disappearance of the old-fashioned kitchen table, as that was where life happened and all the important discussions were had and decisions were made. I tend to agree!

    • That is so interesting, your comment really adds to this post like so many of my readers comments always do! Thanks Ellen! Maria

  15. Wonderful blog. Isn’t it great to be able to take your mom to her homeland, not just for her to visit her roots but for you to get a greater understanding of why she is the way she is and where you inherited some DNA. When my sister and I took our mom to her homeland, so many things started to make sense: her decorating, her love of birds and flowers, earthy colors and gardening. We learned some upsetting background of her life she never talked about. It all began to fit together. I’m sorry we couldn’t make the trip sooner. I think I would have been a little more understanding about her issues.

    • Yes that is so true, and lovely that you got to do the same thing with your Mom, thanks for your comment! x Maria

  16. Hi Maria,
    I’ve been enjoying your trip to Finland through your pictures. Do you know why your parents left such a beautiful place for North America?
    I remember seeing the raised dishwasher years ago. I thought it was a smart idea. But it reduces the usable length of counter top. I guess it’s a trade off you have to make.
    I like the idea of a center kitchen table. But I can also appreciate the additional storage that comes with an island.

    • My Dad was 19 years older than my Mom and he had immigrated to Canada when he was 25. My Mom (as you’ve probably gathered) came from a very poor family and when she was 19 her aunt paid for her and her sister to come and visit in Ontario (Canada) which is where she met my Dad and the rest was history! It’s a very cold and dark place to live in the winter because although the sun barely sets in the summer, the trade-off is it’s very dark in the winter. Our friend Paivi says when she goes to work for 9:00 am and leaves at 5:00 pm in the winter she does not see the sun at all. That’s not the reason my Mom moved but obviously with my obsession with lighting, it would be mine, haha! Thanks for your comment Mary! x Maria

      • Maybe that’s why everyone you visited has such bright recessed lights! They can’t see anything half the year. 😉

  17. Love your posts. I live in an older home where there are no recessed lights. In the 70’s they never installed them. all I have is lamps and I love them and everyone says to me why dont you get some put in and I said why the lamps do the job and are much prettier. The one I havent done is put one in my kitchen (very small another 70’s thing). Not enough counter space to add one unfortunately. Enjoy your time with your mom.

  18. So beautiful! I love the photo with the river. I have relatives who right now are spending two weeks in the far north of Norway—different scenery, but similar sun, except they’re so far north it never sets.

    The rooms look so much warmer and friendlier with the lamps you added. Since reading what you say about lighting all four corners of a room, I’ve added enough lamps to do that in my living and dining rooms. Another thing I’ve added is salt lamps, which create such a soft, warm, friendly light. I leave them on all night, so if I have to get up in the night there’s a soft glow, just enough light to see but not so much that it wakes me up.

  19. You have really given us a sense of the place, thank you!! I love the kitchen table in the middle – all the kitchens in English-authored novels seem to have that setup too and I wish I could but the walls literally don’t allow for it. Someday!

    I looove a lamplit evening. So peaceful! My husband doesn’t like spending brain energy finding a lamp switch – fishing blindly, remembering each different one’s location, some on the cord or the pole or up by the harp, he gets very frustrated and wants only wall switches for lights – so I make sure to turn all the lamps off when I’m turning in for the night so I never have to hear about it!

  20. Adding ceiling and wall lights can be quite pricey. And having lived in some older homes with plaster – adding any fixtures or boxes (picture hooks) was courting disaster in the way of cracks. If I recall you advocate cream or white shades? How about black? I love lamps. We even have lamps in storage but never had one in the kitchen. I do not have anything small enough to fit under the uppers and I am devasted I need to shop for one to try it out 😉

  21. Great post and travelogue, Maria! I’m glad you have upped the lamp quotient where you’re staying! I, too, am a lamp & anti-ceiling light fiend. I’m bummed that so many folks are going the recessed/ceiling flush mount route–really minimizes room-character-building if you ask me, and is harsh on the eyes, not to mention unflattering to human faces. Were these folks too far from an IKEA? There are a few in Finland.

    My stepmom is from Denmark and their big thing is hygge (hoo-geh)–extreme coziness–manifested with lots of lamps, candles and “kaffepauses.”

  22. These travel posts are enjoyable. Thanks for sharing. My mom comes from a small island in the English Channel. Four of five kids were able to go back with her to see her homeland just a few years ago. We’d heard stories growing up, of course – especially as the island was occupied by Germans during the war and how tough times were. One day we rented a van and driver so mom could have him drive us hither and yon, all around the island, showing us places and telling stories of memories she had from childhood. It was amazing how well mom remembered her way around some of the places. Then again, lots of changes in the intervening years since the war. The whole trip was lovely, but that day in particular was memorable for all of us. It’s special, isn’t it, visiting mom’s homeland with mom.

  23. Now you have come full circle, Maria.
    This is so refreshing —both about the lamps—soft light, and your Mom— soft loving feelings of
    a good clean wondrous inheritance.
    You are blessed.
    Thank be to God.
    Paula

  24. I’ve really enjoyed your posts on visiting family and Finland. I’m a big believer in staying with locals when visiting countries so you get to know them and how they live. It’s much more fun and a real education. The Scandinavian countries are definitely on my “to visit” list.

    i agree with you on the necessity of lamps. To me, they don’t have to be table lamps; floor lamps can also be used depending on the particular need. Having a lamp in the kitchen is certainly not a necessity if there are task lights under the uppers. Depending on the location, a table lamp could give a cluttered look to the kitchen or interfere with the opening of cupboard doors; its location must depend on the layout.

    You said Anja’s husband turns on the pot lights when he wants to read. As a voracious reader, I fully understand the need for adequate lighting in that situation. Looking at the photo of Anja and your mother, I don’t see a brightly illuminated spot where a book would be held so I think that a purposeful reading lamp is required. Ideally, that would be a floor lamp such as: https://smile.amazon.com/Rivet-Steel-Floor-Fabric-Shade/dp/B073P46SHL/ref=sxin_2_pb?crid=OCTS1F9M8SFM&keywords=floor+reading+lamp&pd_rd_i=B073P46SHL&pd_rd_r=ce277532-f769-4577-a622-62b3f32ea864&pd_rd_w=MhWBc&pd_rd_wg=BgZMg&pf_rd_p=9ef0c97a-254b-445c-822b-c948e2d94ddd&pf_rd_r=CDWS9438QB9F7RG8KXZ5&qid=1562646082&s=hi&sprefix=floor+read%2Caps%2C212
    This lamp can be pivoted away from the chair when the person is not reading.

    Just my 2 cents. ha ha

    • I agree but we only had a few hours to shop and this was the best solution we came up with at the time. The lamps in Finland are truly bleak! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  25. Charlotte Ivancic

    Hi Maria. So fun to hear about and see your adventures in Finland. Thank you for sharing! I have a question regarding lighting. Are you saying that you should NEVER install pot lights/ recessed lighting? What about having them with dimmers? Are you suggesting using solely pendants and lamps? Pot lights seem to be a builders “go to” form of illumination! Further input on this would be most appreciated! Thanks!

  26. I really enjoyed your post. It’s so helpful that I tweeted the link. I recently finished the book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia. You would find it a fun and interesting read, especially about Finland. Get it on your Kindle for the flight home!

  27. Hi Maria! I’ve so enjoyed reading about your trip, and the stories of your mom and her family in Finland. It’s a beautiful country and one I’d like to visit one day.

    I so agree with you about pot lights (recessed lighting)! As a matter of fact, I’m visiting my daughter for a month, and her whole house is nothing but recessed lighting! She and her husband purchased his childhood home from his parents last year, so the lighting came with the house. I’ve had to scrounge to find lamps for my bedroom, because I simply refuse to use the ceiling lights – too stark and glaring! I’m trying to guide them into choosing more indirect lighting for bedrooms and living room, but son-in-law isn’t convinced. Ah well, I’ll keep trying. Lol.

    At home, I do have 3-4 lamps per room, and I do have a sweet vintage one in my kitchen! It is so good to know you and I agree on the importance of lamps! One thing that I learned a few years ago, is that as one ages, the lighting needs increase, which is where good task and reading lamps are even more important.

  28. I also love lamps and have been teased because I prefer them. But I am always at a loss of how to manage cords. They are always too long or too obvious and the cord is distracting. What did you do do with the 3 feet of cord for those counter lamps? And what do you do with a cord that is plugged into the wall but the table is a few feet away from the outlet? So the real question is what do you do with the cords?

  29. Absolutely agree abut lamps being essential to atmosphere. We purchased Etekcity wireless remote controls so that we can turn on/off all or a selected combination of the lamps in a room with one click. Have several settings so we can turn on/off various rooms from the same control – one control in living room and one in master bedroom. So convenient not to have to go around turning each lamp on/off individually! An architect friend specified that the top outlets in each box is wired to a master switch, again so one can turn on all lamps plugged into top outlet with one switch.

  30. I have a couple of small lamps with shades on my kitchen counters. Together with the light from the hood over the stove, they give me the equivalent of under cabinet lighting which I do not have. I use soft white (warm) LED bulbs in them because I don’t want to heat up the underside of the upper cabinets. Plus, the look is virtually the same as the old fashioned incandescent bulbs. I appreciate the points you’re making about lighting. Lamps, and lots of them, really make a home feel comfortable and inviting.

  31. Thanks for sharing your travel adventure to Finland. We can learn so much from travel and seeing how other people live. I love the trend of the table in the kitchen. It reminds me of my grandmother’s farmhouse <3
    ~S

  32. I’m a lamp whore from way back. You can never have too many lamps. I detest overhead lighting, it’s so….clinical. Glad to hear my love for lamps is a good thing! Now I can tell my husband… LOL.

  33. Don’t know if I qualify as a lamp tramp yet but I counted 21 lamps in my small house with 3 spares hanging around. Only pot lights in my 1986-built house are one in the 9-foot ceiling of the kitchen over the sink (that I never turn on) and two in the 7-foot ceiling hallway which are blinding at the ceiling when turned on but wouldn’t enable me to locate that contact in the rug. From the first time I read your post about lamps in the kitchen, I began to plan for that and now have two and that’s despite the fact that my kitchen is small and there’s a definite lack of counter space, especially with two cats with different tastes in food. Wouldn’t be without those lamps because they add to the charm of my kitchen and I always turn one or the other on at night, just to avoid the black hole of the kitchen. Luckily during the day with a corner sink with south and west windows, a solar tube and a door to the west-facing patio, don’e need the lamps during the day. However, the one in the dark and windowless laundry room is on all day as are the ones in both bathrooms, one of which gets no light and the other only reflected from the arch to the bedroom. Trying to figure out how to put something in that dreary hallway that has no near outlet. They are such fun and I know if I spotted another one I really liked, I would like buy it.

    Your mom is so beautiful. She looks so happy and so does her daughter.

  34. Yes, lamps in Finland are hard to find! They are seen kind of old fashion…but they bring so much warmth that most homes could benefit from 1…or 5 😉
    I just got back from a quick 1 week visit after a 14 year break from going to Finland…I left 25 years ago originally. I was happily surprised how international Helsinki was, just lovely! Finnish people are proud of Finland. They decorate with lots of Finnish brands like Marimekko and Iittala, so fun! When I was returning to the US, the customs guy was wondering why I had a back bag full of glass! I just asked him to be extra careful as it’s quite expensive and I have to haul a bag with me every time I visit Finland…because to me Iittala=Finland. As I sip water from Iittala glass, it makes me smile. I don’t save them for special occasions, I want to see them, feel them (Ultima Thule) and just enjoy the little things like pretty glasses.
    Glad to read about your visit! Have a fun summer.

    • OMG I totally agree, and I was so upset when I got to the Iittala outlet store that they don’t ship!! I now have some heavy glass to schlep home, haha! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  35. What a beautiful and heartwarming post! The small changes you made in Anja’s home make it so much more inviting. Her garden and flowers are wonderful!! And the strawberry shortcake?? Yum!! Most of all, I enjoyed hearing about your mother and her sweet time in her beloved homeland! Thanks for sharing!

  36. Great post Maria! I love that you just can’t stop decorating people’s homes, because we know what we know so why not make it better? It’s nice to see Finland through your stories.

  37. When we lived in England, we spent a week traveling around Denmark, Norway, and Sweden but did not make it to Finland. I felt a real connection to the Scandinavian way of life, and have since discovered that my ancestors settled in Finland. I do believe we carry memory in our DNA, and that would explain the feeling of recognition when visiting that area. Your post was just lovely.
    I now reside in a city known as “Little Norway” as the Norwegians settled here over a hundred years ago. I love the culture, and enjoy seeing crafts from Scandinavia in our little downtown shops. Every Christmas I place the Swedish lights in my windows as they are so welcoming.
    On the topic of lamps, I love them because they add so much to the atmosphere in any given room. I recently placed two small lamps on my kitchen counter in the corners, and like the look. I am not a fan of recessed lights either, and much prefer the soft glow from a lamp.

  38. Thank you for taking us along on your fabulous trip to Finland. It is always better to “live” with the locals than a hotel as far as I am concerned. You get the real “flavour” of the country you are visiting then.
    Having the dining table in the middle of the kitchen is the true farmhouse style. Growing up we all had our kitchens this way. Makes you wonder why people still like to gather in the kitchen. I love Anja’s kitchen and she is so smart to raise her dishwasher!

  39. Enjoyed traveling “with you!” I, too, love lighting and what it can do for a room. When my husband and I moved to our current home with a windowless bathroom, I put a small lamp on the vanity from one of your suggestions. I can’t believe he actually noticed it and even mentioned that he liked it. Not only does it look pretty, but it helps guests find their way to an unfamiliar bathroom and not struggle with finding the light switch. So, Maria, I do appreciate your generous advice on small changes that can make a big difference in our homes.

    When recently remodeling my dining room and kitchen which have entrances from 2 locations, I wanted light switches in the two locations so I would not have to travel through a dark room to get to a switch. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a good place to mount them. I made the decision to go with home automation voice-activated switches. My electrician agreed and told me that it would be cheaper for me to do voice activated switches than to do the necessary rewiring that was originally discussed. It does require internet and a hub. Now I can activate the lights from a phone app or voice request without ever touching a switch. For the light switches, the switch has to be replaced with an automated one. The new switch still can be operated manually like a traditional switch if the internet goes out or if a guest uses the switch. (If you have a three-way switch, only one needs to be replaced.) However, no extra wiring for the outlets, just stick a special plug in the outlet and plug the lamp into it and connect it to the phone app. (My previous house had outlets wired to a switch which I loved. Now I have the voice activated outlets which are even better since I can have the same function without getting an electrician to rewire.) I can also group lighting on my phone app so that I can turn off all of my indoor house lamps/lights with a simple voice request. Oh, yeah–no extra expensive dimmer switch is required. I just ask for the light/lamp to be turned on or dimmed to a certain level (e.g. 50%). It is nice that I can come home at night and before I get there use my phone app to turn on certain lights so I don’t arrive to a dark house. For safety reasons, I can turn on all my outside lights quickly with one voice command. No more getting out of bed in the middle of the night and going to each door to turn on outside lights one by one. I look forward to Christmas to be able to turn on/off all my Christmas lights with a single command. My husband who has had a small stroke finds it easier to ask for lights to be turned on/off rather than dealing with lamp/switches, especially when hands are carrying items making it awkward to reach a switch. So, if you have not looked at voice-automated lighting, I highly encourage you to do so. It has been a game changer for me.

  40. Oh my I haven’t checked in here in way too long! I love your rant against recessed lights! I totally agree! Newer homes seem to have pegboards for ceilings, with a phalanx of switches that no one can figure out. An old fashioned table lamp instantly brings a human feeling to a room. I recently learned about the Lutron Caseta system which I used for all my garden lighting with wireless remote dimmer switches, and a phone app to control them. It’s been a revelation and now I want to add this to all my lamps to make it easier to control the light levels.

  41. OMGEE, yes! I LOATHE and DESPISE those too-bright overhead lights! They hurt my eyes. I like the ambiance of lamps and the decorative aspect of them as well. My favorites are blue and white.

  42. Thanks so much for giving us a little tour of Finland with your sweet mother. So interesting and beautiful. And I’m making her chili recipe tomorrow!

  43. Thank you for pinning my kitchen in the Cashiers Historical Society’s Show House. Would love it if you would please add credit to your post, Missy Morrow Int. Design. I’m glad you like it!