Definitive Guide to Room Lighting

Lighting is an essential element to room design, most designers agree that a room needs more than one source of light.

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“Light is a powerful thing”

“Light is a powerful thing,” states Theo Richardson, the director of development at Rich Brilliant Willing, the Brooklyn-based design studio known for its striking LED fixtures. “The right light lifts the mood, inspires productivity and motivates us. At home, light enlivens the little things — our morning routines, or the moments we spend with friends.”

Think layered illumination

Every room should have a mix of lighting, that includes overhead, accent and task lights. Lighting is an essential ingredient when you’re decorating a room — not an afterthought.

Here’s how the pros do it

Don’t be tempted to spend most of your time selecting your furnishings or designing layouts, remember that lighting can transform a space — not just by brightening dark corners, but by affecting your emotions. The right lighting can lift your spirits and make you more relaxed and productive.

Focused illumination

Accent lighting creates an inviting ambience while brightening dark corners. It can also be used to highlight artwork or architectural features.

Focused illumination, task lighting is often associated with desk lamps, but also found in many pendants, sconces and floor lamps that provide direct.

Take advantage of an empty corner and create a calm spot that’s perfect for curling up with a bestseller. Task lighting is great for reading in bed. When using a desk or table lamp, remember to place it so you’re not looking right into the bulb when lying down.

Light up island counters

Island counters can be lit up with decorative pendants. When used with a dimmer control, these ceiling-hung fixtures can provide adequate task lighting for homework, hobbies, or family business and allow you to adjust the light for dining or entertaining.

Any pendant you might walk beneath should be a minimum of seven feet from the floor, or a foot taller than the tallest person in your home.

The diameter of your light fixtures should be about 12″ less than the width of your table or island for the best use of space.

Add a striking light fixture

Whether you go for a romantic chandelier or a modern pendant, a striking light fixture can complete a living room. Use the piece to brighten the seating area and create a focal point. Incorporating a bold ceiling fixture will direct attention upward and open up your space. interior designer Michael Murphy states, “A large, even over-scale ceiling fixture can add illumination and drama, and also trick the eye into thinking the space is much larger than it actually is.”  

Lampshades, not just decorative accents

Lampshades, if you use them at all, aren’t just decorative accents — they actually make a big difference in the quality of light you get out of your lamp. Therefore, it’s important to know your lighting goal when selecting a shade.

“Whenever you use a shade — whether it’s on a lamp, sconce, or a chandelier — use frosted or soft-white bulbs to eliminate the shadows and hot spots created by shade clips,” said Paloma Contreras, an interior designer in Houston.

Hang a pendant for all over lighting

Hang a pendant to provide soft, all-over lighting in smaller spaces. It provides the same type of light as a floor lamp without taking up the square footage.


Put dimmers on all of your lights

Wall sconces are perfect in pairs or on their own as additional light sources. Put dimmers on all of your lights: it allows you to manually adjust lighting to respond to changes in natural light, seasons and so forth. It is the easiest way to adjust the light in a room is by putting a dimmer on each fixture, versus replacing a wall switch with a dimmer that adjusts all the lights at once.

The best choice for applying makeup is sidelights, such as a pair of sconces flanking the mirror. An overhead light helps fill in any shadows on your face and also fully illuminates the room. In a large space, you might also want a light directly over the shower.