Points of Light

Portrait by Jean Lannen

On a chilly, dark morning last winter, I met a couple of friends at Cannelle Patisserie in Birmingham for coffee, tea, pastries, and some catch-up. In the cheerful ambiance of the tiny French-style bakery/coffee shop, I inhaled the heavenly scents of cinnamon, almond, vanilla, and ground coffee beans. Why don’t I do this more often?

I felt as light as the steamy coffee vapors that faded into the air around us. Light, in its many forms — light conversation, a light-filled ambiance, and a feathery giddiness over simply being with pals — buoyed me, and it felt good. Looking through the bakery windows, my friends and I felt the winter doldrums lifting from our heads and shoulders as soft-yellow rays of sunlight broke through the clouds.

As the landscape brightened outside, we poured more tea and coffee into our cups — and also poured out to each other a little of what had been bothering us. It didn’t take long to discover that our complaints likely wouldn’t seem so heavy had we had more light and sunshine in our lives. We commiserated with each other about this and that, and how things are always worse when dealing with an endless string of dark days and bitter-cold polar vortex temperatures. We also discovered that community and camaraderie — especially at a light-filled bakery — is a sure tonic for winter gloom.

Before getting into my car, I looked up and smiled at the sun. (This is Michigan, so when the golden orb shows itself in winter, it’s not to be taken — pardon the pun — lightly!) I tilted my face up toward its glow for several seconds and let it breathe new life into me. It felt amazing.

Medical studies reveal that we all absolutely need sunshine and light for our well-being, our state of mind, our happiness, and our vitamin D levels. There’s no doubt that light can positively impact health and mood. And because we’re in Michigan, we most definitely face a reduced level of sunlight in the winter, which can disrupt our internal clock and cause a drop in serotonin (the brain chemical that affects mood).

The quality of our indoor lighting is just as important. When is the last time you’ve reviewed the lighting situation throughout your home? Have you updated your bathroom fixtures in the last decade or so? Have you learned about the new types of LED lights, and do you know that every room should have multiple layers of lighting, from task to accent to ambient?

My own home needed a lighting face-lift this past year, so my husband and I had 14 LED ceiling lights installed in the family room, kitchen, and an upstairs hallway. Instant sunshine!

In this issue, we offer several suggestions for upping your lighting game. Take a look at Richard Ross and Shannon Truesdell’s lighting ideas in our Inspired Designers section. Their gorgeous spaces, selections, and tips are sure to inspire.

Need a good electrician or a fabulous lighting store? Look no further than our Best of Detroit Home listings, where you’ll find that and more.

As for natural light, a homeowner featured in this issue craves it so much, she left what she thought was her dream home and moved to a spot that she calls her “heaven,” thanks to the light that streams through a large wall of glass overlooking a lake where there’s all kinds of reflective light. She says the home is the best gift she ever gave herself.

Speaking of gifts, a lot of presents are piling up under the beautiful Christmas trees showcased in this issue. Whether they’re multicolored or all white, tree lights are an exquisite, comforting source of light this time of year.

It might be dark outside, but the season of light is upon us. Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice, Kwanzaa — whatever you celebrate, cherish that light, too, and take it with you throughout the year. Add some friends and a good bakery, and you’ve got some of the best lights of all.