Proper Lighting

cheers without dazzlingWhen this was selection was originally written, I had just become an aunt (welcoming to the world, little Olivia Rose), my mom had turned sixty, and I hit thirty-five. Much to celebrate in Gemini-land, wouldn’t you agree? With such good cheer in the air it seemed appropriate to have a little birthday party. Good hostess that I am, I made sure to dim the lights properly to ensure a fabulous time for all of my guests. I do hate overhead lights, so this was a natural for me!

1957: Proper Lighting

Proper lighting is essential to a pleasant atmosphere, and by proper I mean light that flatters, that cheers without dazzling, that is intimate without inviting eyestrain. Too many of our modern methods of lighting are seemingly designed with a view to annihilating the human race. We will only be perpetuated, after all, so long as men are attracted to women and vice versa, but how there can be any hope for mutual attraction between the ghoulish faces that stand revealed by contemporary idea to do away with any and all pleasant illusion. This is accomplished in one of two ways: either the lights are cunningly concealed somewhere in the vicinity of the ceiling, casting a pale, indirect, ghastly green glow on the room and its occupants, or, crueler still, there is the relentlessly direct type ~ the spotlight that hangs immediately above your head, opaquely shaded to allow its full white glare to do its worst on you, for all the world like those naked bulbs the police ~ the movie police, anyway ~ shine in the face of a suspect in the hope of breaking his spirit. They know what they’re doing. It’s enough to break the most upright spirit. But direct or indirect, the result is the same. Make-up might as well not be used. Every line and pore and hollow is mercilessly disclosed and magnified, on young as on old.

Source: Maxwell, Elsa. How to Do It, or, The Lively Art of Entertaining. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1957.
~ pp. 213-14 ~