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Holiday Mood Lighting Lessons from Twilight

By 12/22/2010November 19th, 202041 Comments



I was at a Christmas party last weekend hosted by one of my dearest friends Tami Rode, (below). During the evening, I was having a conversation with a guest about Christmas trees and she said “I love mine so much I cry when it comes down in January”.

Maria Killam & Tami Rode

And in that moment, I realized that it’s because a Christmas tree suddenly becomes this beacon of atmosphere, in everyone’s home. And the whole time that tree is up over the holidays, it doesn’t matter if you still haven’t found the perfect lamp for that corner. For 2 – 4 weeks, you don’t need one.


I also suddenly understood why sometimes Christmas lights are seen in bedrooms. In the past, I see the straggly looking string of lights hanging haphazardly–in a movie set for example–like Bella’s in her bedroom in Twilight. . . (above) and I think why?


So now, I get it, it makes total sense! So please, if buying new lights is intimidating for you (trust me I know, every single client that hires me to decorate their home rarely has enough lighting and is always surprised and delighted with the effect of 4-5 new lamps has in a living room) you have my permission to hang a string of white lights in your bedroom. 

My new opinion is that it’s quite the designer look indeed. 


Yesterday, when I had a conversation with my mother (she’s 64) who is too tired from taking care of my 83 year old dad with Parkinsons to put up a tree I rushed out to Abbotsford in the late afternoon and made it happen. My mom loves pink and turquoise and she must have coloured lights on her tree!

I also grabbed a string of leftover white lights (of course mine are white) that I had in my Christmas box and hung them up in my Dad’s bedroom (he spends most of his days in bed now).

When they were hanging just like this (above) my Dad said, “Leave it like that, I like it”.

I said “Don’t you want me to at least hang them so they frame the window?

“No”,  he said “I like it just like that.”

So there you have it, a real live example proving that ambient lighting = happy 🙂  So get some however you can, especially after Christmas, it will make me (and you) happy.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me for on-line or in-person consultations.

Related posts:

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere
The 5 Accessories Everyone should Have in their Home
Embrace the Dark Side of your House; Lighting 101
3 Things I Learned about Design while Decorating for my Mother

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  • kristie@thedecorologist says:

    brilliant, maria! lighting changes everything, doesn't it? that's why i like those flameless candles for the bedside tables!

  • cindy says:

    I love the white lights. We have them in our living room AND bedroom. There's just something so soothing about them,

  • Noelle at Gray Paint Decor says:

    What a beautiful and loving gift to your parents. Thank you for sharing this lovely story!

  • Anonymous says:

    We have little white lights in our Ficus tree in the the corner of the family room. They are on the tree year round and we turn them on a few nights a week with the other lights down low. Love it!


    I enjoy a string of white lights neatly taped around my double bookshelf in our living room. I put it up in October and take it down in the spring.

    I do like all my Christmas decorations down as soon as Christmas is over, but love keeping up that one string of twinkly lights.



  • Marlis says:

    Your parents are blessed with you as their child. It all makes sense now. I don't care if the living room isn't perfect.. the tree is up and i feel happy. Merry Christmas to you.. you are a blessing to us.

  • Bruce Barone says:

    Let there be light!

  • Jane says:

    What a thoughtful thing you did for your parents! Those little white lights really do bring cheer…

    I have them on my lanai…year round. They make the atmosphere feel like a party! I'll have some in the bedroom, once I convince my hubby…(He usually just rolls his eyes and goes along with my "crazy idea". But he has to tease me for awhile, first.)
    Happy Christmas!
    Jane (artfully graced)

  • Wendy says:

    I become an emotional fool this time of year, crying at the drop of a hat and this post made me tear up. Great story. Parkinson's has touched my family and its awful. Sorry you're going through that. Keep looking for ways to brighten (pun intended!) your parents' lives.

  • Donna says:

    Maria, how sweet of you to do a Christmas tree for your mother. You are such a thoughtful daughter and it makes me love you even more! I'm not surprised at all that your Dad likes the lights that way. You are so right about how wonderful they make any room.

    For my daughter's 18th birthday, I made her a 'romantic' Italian dinner. I was trying to create ambiance and decided to dig out the white Christmas lights and hang drape them back and forth across the dining room ceiling. They sort of radiated out from one corner. It looked just like a 'patio' restaurant. I set out the fine china, crystal, and used my best white tablecloth. She just loved it, but none of us could bring ourselves to take down the lights for the longest time.

    I too used lights on my ficus tree in the bedroom for years. It was almost as romantic as a park at night. Thanks for reminding me about that.I'd forgotten!

    I just dropped by to tell you Merry Christmas before I get too distracted by the holiday activities.

    BTW, I posted a few photos from the store in the Woodlands that I mentioned as part of today's Tuesday tea party. Everything was silver and white and so pretty. :o) I really love what you wrote today.

    Donna @ Comin' Home

  • Hi Maria, what a lovely story of your day. Ailing parents is a tough thing to endure. It's nice to hear how you helped both of your parents with a little light in their lives. The atmosphere is really all it's about as far as the decorating goes. With lights twinkling, everything seems at peace and right in the world, if just for a little while.

  • Kimma says:

    What a lovely idea to brighten your father's days. I hope your family will have a wonderful Christmas together this year.

  • Patrick Gracewood says:

    Wonderful post- proving that good design is not (always) about fashion but also about creating spaces and objects that enhance living.

  • Grace @ Sense and Simplicity says:

    Oh my goodness that is so sweet of you – it brought tears to my eyes – that you would drop everything and rush out to set up a Christmas tree for your poor tired mother. Christmas lights do give a wonderful ambiance to a room – just what your parents needed.


    Maria, you do show the real meaning of Christmas.

    I realize the point of your post was about lights,(and a wonderful post it is) but to us, it shows just how loving and caring you are.

    Merry Christmas and thank you for being you.

  • Nancy says:

    Oh, there's a tear 🙂 what a delightful and endearing daughter you are. God bless and Merry Christmas to you all. Oh, and YES, I'm one of those that loves mini lights all year 🙂

  • shopgirl says:

    Great post Maria! I've been using white lights for probably almost two decade to decorate my rooms. They're just beautiful and magical.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    p.s. I used to live in Abbotsford during the nineties. I still have some relatives that live there.


  • Mary says:

    I hope my daughter grows up to be as thoughtful as you.
    What a nice thing you did for your parents.

  • Design Elements says:

    great, Maria! Thank you! Best for the holidays

  • Kelly @ JAX does design says:

    I love the look of twinkly white lights any time of the year 🙂

    So sweet and thoughtful of you to help bring some holiday cheer into your parents' home 🙂

    Merry Christmas to you and your fmaily!

  • Anonymous says:

    Sweet story, Maria. Many of us know how tiring it is to take care of ailing parents. You must be a ray of sunshine in their lives, one that shines brightly every day no matter the season. Great post. Merry Christmas.

  • Donna in Potomac says:

    I agree with your Dad, I like it like that!
    In my teen years, back in the 60's, my bedroom was always decked out with stringed lights. Of course that was Psychedelic Sixties fashion, but I guess really cool things never go out of style 🙂
    Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Light!

  • diane@onlinefabricstore says:

    What a sweet thing you did for both of your parents. My Daddy is gone now and I miss him every single day so enjoy this precious time with them. Merry Christmas and thanks so much for all the great posts this year. I have enjoyed getting to know you via your blog (hope you enjoyed mine as well)

    Merry Christmas

  • Mindy@FindingSilverLinings says:

    Christmas lights create the best ambiance! Here's my trees:
    Happy Holidays everyone!

  • Lynne says:

    beautiful, Maria! Your mum and I are favourite colour twins: turquoise and pink always make me smile.

  • Nan Parker says:

    What a beautiful gift of your time and love for your Mom and Dad. This was a great post, Maria. So truly spot on for so many of us this time of year. I love to have little Christmas trees in the guest rooms, too. Also, little white lights strung on white wire look fabulous just stuffed randomly in clear apothecary type jars or vases.

    I too have simply adored your posts this year and feel blessed to have 'found' you.

    Merry Christmas and Happy 2011!

  • Tammy@InStitches says:

    What a sweet daughter you are, Maria. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas !

  • camdesign says:

    I agree with your father, the lights look wicked like that, think I might look for white lights and do that in our bedroom…

  • This Mid 30s Life says:

    Right I am inspired!! Once the tree comes down, my white fairy lights are going upstairs to our bedroom.

  • Anonymous says:

    Lovely post, I'm tearing up at work! I think what makes it so special, is that you are a "designer" and you decorated things just the way your parents wanted, knowing it would make THEM happy. But even better, you saw the beauty through their eyes, You are so special!

    Have a wonderful Christams Maria, and thank you so much for your patience and understanding in working with me on my home 🙂

    Annette in Cali

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    I have wanted to put up twinkle lights in my bedroom forever. I had forgotten about it until today. Off to get cool lights for my bedroom.

  • Brillante Home Decor says:

    Your posts are always inspiring, educating and fun to read. When you put personal stories they become even more interesting.
    I wish you and your dear ones a Merry Christmas, dear Maria, and a year full of joy.

  • Christina Rodriguez | The Diva's Home says:

    I love the white lights too! My kids love the colored ones and they put up a couple strands in the hallway outside their rooms. They make a nice soft light and I don't have to trip over whatever they leave on the floor!
    Merry Christmas!

  • sjkingston says:

    Maria, I'm touched by how you captured the effect of lights and am grabbing a strand to run do a window in a sick friends condo like you did for your dad. Great post, thank you.

  • sjkingston says:

    Maria, I'm touched by how you captured the effect of lights and am grabbing a strand to run do a window in a sick friends condo like you did for your dad. Great post, thank you.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I too found this a lovely post. Thank you, Maria. I couldn't agree more with you about lighting. At this moment my living room has eight lamps, a well-lit Christmas tree, and a glass bowl filled with a string of white corded fairy lights, all lit, but on dimmers. All the light makes me so happy at this dark time of year.

    May you have a bright, happy, and colorful Christmas!

  • Ideezine says:


    That's the way to care beyond the visual and into the spiritual. As we put delight in the eyes of those we love it's following our purpose in life.

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful example of honoring your Mother and Father in their season of life at this time of year.

    The song "You Light Up My Life" came to mind and I'm sure the heavens are applauding your actions.

    Merry Christmas!


  • Elizabeth Brown says:

    This post really warmed my heart. There was so much love in it. What a sweet daughter you are to come to your mom's rescue at her time of emotional need and to place the lights just so for your bed ridden dad. I can appreciate loving daughters because I am blessed with one.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Kelly Berg, IIDA, IACC-NA says:

    So true! There is just *something* about those twinkly white lights…
    How wonderful of you to help out your parents with your beautiful decorating. I am with EB – this one warmed my heart. 🙂
    Merry Christmas. Maria!

  • dovecote decor says:

    Maria: You are always fresh. What a sweet thing to do for your Father. As they go back in time, give them the joy of childhood. My Mother also has to have colored lights. We all had them, before white lights were required. I will say, millions of American college girls have them in their dorm rooms and apartments. In the U.S. they take a sort of icicle form. And of course, how could you do colour without addressing lighting. You've taught me a great deal about colour, but I think lighting is really hard too.

  • Bryant Park Designs says:

    Maria – You put into words something that we are unable to! The effect that those little white lights has on everyone is amazing. This year we added lights to a tree outside our sons room and it is magical!! I am reluctant to take them down. I might have to add a little twinkle to the rest of my home year round. And lastly, I am touched by the story of your Dad – Merry Christmas to all of you.

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