Lets talk lighting

Light fixtures aren’t given the amount of attention they deserve.  Beyond turning on a switch and illuminating a room, they’re simply a function of a necessity.  Stop and take a look at the fixtures around your home.  Are they dated? Are they sized right? Do they make a statement? Or are they hardly noticeable?

The importance ofAWESOME LIGHTING

Think of light fixtures as the jewelry to your outfit.  Fixtures finish off a room and have a big impact on the grand plan of your design. The style matters, just like your furniture and accent pieces. But what happens more often than not, you move in, make sure the bulbs all work, and never give your fixtures another thought.  But fixtures start to date themselves every decade, as do other design elements in your home.  Luckily finding inexpensive fixtures is a click away. (thank you Amazon)  So changing them out doesn’t have to be a financial Armageddon or a stressful decision.


Who decides what’s trendy and why?

Trends come and go, just like clothing.  But why?  And WHO is making these decisions?  Manufacturers create new products, we buy those products, they change the design of those products, and we buy again.  The internet, TV, Influencers, and marketing departments all over the world sell (read: manipulate) us through every media possible.  If bronze is the main finish in your local Home Depot, most people will buy bronze.  If the latest pink tone catches on, you’ll be seeing everything in pink. When our neighbors pull up with their cool new car, we start thinking about car shopping for ourselves.   It’s hard to tell what we truly like, and what we’ve been influenced to like. l recently read that having your refrigerator or stove visible in your kitchen was passé, and thought to myself “so now the kitchen can’t look like a kitchen anymore?” What’s next?  The bedroom can’t have a visible bed?

We’ve moved beyond functionality, and we make choices based on what other people have chosen for us or what our feelings tell us. Here’s the thing: there is nothing wrong with that. It’s OK to want change. It’s ok to see something we like and want it for ourselves.  And it’s business.  Businesses keep people employed.  And employed people shop. For most of us,  we want to fit in, be cool, and have a house that doesn’t include orange Formica countertops and deep pile green shag carpeting.  Although if that’s your thing, just call it retro and be on your way, you happy little 1970’s flower child you!

So short of bucking an entire system,  living off-grid, or simply just not giving a fudge, we all live with the material world influencing our life.  Things get dated, look old, and wear out.  What once made you cool back in the day, now becomes something to laugh at.  Think of all the cans of Aqua Net in the ’80s that made our bangs stick straight up a full 6 inches.  We were cool.  That was cool.  But we have to mourn that decade and move on.  Interior design is no different.  Design trends are sold by a FEELING.  So if an all-white living room invokes a feeling of serenity, and we want that…well, we get the paintbrush out and go to town. If all the cool kids on the block have gold accents, then we feel the need for gold accents.  It’s the feeling we’re buying.  Sometimes that feeling comes from a memory during a part of your life where things were really good, and you want to recapture that feeling.  Feng Shui will tell you that certain colors and materials evoke certain feelings and it’s true.  We’re feeling beings after all.

With all the constant changes to what’s hip and what’s out, what looks and feels good to us, and what’s within our budget, it’s pretty amazing that anyone can ever get any design right. But it doesn’t have to give you a headache.  I’m going to break down the basics of light fixture selection so you can make a no-brainer decision when it comes to each room of your house and end up feeling great about what you’ve chosen.

Functionality and location

This one is the easiest.  What is the purpose of the fixture?  Where is it going to be installed?  Overhead bedroom lighting?  A wall sconce next to your headboard? Lighting to illuminate a dark entryway?  This one shouldn’t take too much thought, but it does influence the TYPE of fixture you’re going to look for.

Fixture Size

Once you know what type of fixture you’re looking for, the next consideration is the size.   A too-small chandelier in a large dining room is a mistake, just as a huge fixture in a small room will not work either.  For a dining room, you’re not only taking the size of the space into consideration but also the size and shape of the table.  The rule of thumb is to purchase a chandelier that is 1/2 to 3/4 the width of your table.  When installing, the base of the fixture should hang down about 30 inches above the tabletop.  So the ceiling height is important for the length of the chain or down rod.

light fixture pink living room


A light fixture should align with the design style of your home.  For ease of selection, most lighting websites will let you filter by shape, finish, price, style, color, and finish.

Although a traditional fixture will work pretty much everywhere, it may not be the unique piece you’re looking for.

When a fixture falls under both “farmhouse” as well as “coastal” style,  it’s not a mistake.  Most fixtures will fall under several categories, which means you have a better chance of nailing the best one for your room.

dining room chandelier


How much lighting do you need?  Will one overhead suffice? Will you supplement with lamps? What tasks do you need the lighting for? For reading? Watching TV? A much-needed brightly lit front entryway?

Recessed can lighting can be added anywhere you don’t want to see your fixtures.  You can also purchase retrofit conversion can light kits to replace an existing hard-wired fixture.  Your hallway may be a place this could work well, eliminating an outdated flush mount fixture.  The opposite issue can be solved with a conversion kit to turn an existing can light into a hanging pendant light.

For mood lighting, don’t think dimmer switches belong exclusively to the dining room.  Add them to the bedrooms and your kitchen for times when you don’t need bright light.

living room chandelier


This may end up being the deciding factor when looking at replacing or adding a new fixture.  Give yourself a budget and stick to it!  Window shop all you want, find the most perfect, beautiful, brings tears to your eyes light fixture, and then search the internet for a similar one at your price point.  Champagne taste on a beer budget shouldn’t stop you from having something you love. Expensive looking doesn’t have to be expensive. Spend your money where you get the biggest impact.  A gorgeous chandelier you see every day may be worth the cost.  And if cost isn’t a concern, then go wild, go nuts – and buy strictly based on the emotion that fixture gives you!

colorful chandelier

Statement Lighting

Sometimes you need your fixture to make a statement.  Something big, bold, bright, and beautiful.  If it’s the first thing you see when you enter a room, then make it matter.


Hidden Lights

Functional lighting may not be what you want your eye to go to as soon as you turn the switch. Recessed can lighting,  a strategically placed sconce, or a clear glass chandelier can work to not obscure your view and will give you the lighting you need.


Welcome To Fixtures 101

Light Fixture terminology

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Chandelier – fixture suspended from the ceiling. Types: Island, Drum, Orb, Linear, or Ornate.

Flush mount – typically domeshaped and mounted directly to the ceiling

Semi-Flushmount – hanging lower than the flush mount, but still close to the ceiling, typically more decorative

Swag – hanging from a cord or chain and also from a second location using a ceiling hook to position the light for best use (easily customizing the length & location)

Track lighting – a lighting system in which the lights are fitted on tracks, allowing variable light direction

Recessed – lighting installed directly into the ceiling or wall. Can lighting with visible trim, fully flush with the ceiling or wall

Pendantsometimes called a drop light, is a single fixture that hangs from the ceiling usually suspended by a cord, chain, or metal rod. Pendant lights are often used in multiples

Mini-Pendant – a scaled-down version of a pendant light


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Let’s talk Bulbs

Lighting, as important as it is to brighten up a room, also controls the ambiance and style. With all the light bulb options available it can be confusing.  When purchasing a new light fixture, using the recommended bulb is your best bet.  When choosing a new bulb there are many factors other than shape and size.  Brightness, color, ability to dim, and energy efficiency come into play, as well.  And if there weren’t enough lighting options already, you can find apps to use with smart bulbs to fully customize the color and ambiance of each room right from your phone. 

"Light up the darkness" -Bob Marley

Is it time to replace your outdated fixtures?  The impact it can have on your home is worth the small amount of effort it takes.  Spend some time online, or stop by your local hardware or lighting store and take a look around.  You may find something you fall in love with!

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