Lighting is often overlooked when it comes to essential interior design elements, but it is vital to the overall ambiance of a space. In fact, lighting is just as important as furniture, wallpaper and paint. Besides helping you see and perform tasks in your home better, the type and position of the light fixture affect the colors in the room, and the fixture itself can serve as a decorative piece. While natural light still is the best choice (windows, doors, and skylights), it is still limited to one part of the day, and it is impossible for it to access every space. Fortunately, these days, it is possible to find light fixtures to fit any room, regardless of its décor and style.
Know the three types of lighting
The trick for creating the perfect atmosphere in any room is layered lighting. Here are the three layers you need to know about:
- General or ambient lighting is the ceiling fixture which makes up to 75% of the light in the room. In larger rooms, there is a need for several ceiling lights.
- Task lighting helps accomplish specific tasks (e.g., reading a book or preparing food).
- Accent lighting serves as a decorative element by enhancing certain features of the room (e.g. artwork, bookshelves, decorative trim).
Your guide to lighting: Room by room
Every room has a different ambiance and function. Therefore, every room requires different lighting solutions. The foyer is the perfect room to go grand with the lighting fixture. Install an oversized, single-light fixture or a large statement chandelier. For a small, dark space, use a full-length mirror to double the amount of light. General lighting in the living room is usually provided by a modern or a traditionally ornate chandelier, but you can also use several big pendants. Wall sconces will help you create a theatre-style atmosphere, and you can use accent lights to draw attention to artwork or bookshelves. As for task lights, you can spotlight the entertainment area with LED tape lights and place a floor/table lamp near the reading chair.
Functional lighting is the key in the kitchen. A striking ceiling fixture will provide ambient light, but you will also need task lighting for specific areas (e.g. mini lights for the kitchen cabinets) and accent lights in the form of pendants above the kitchen island. The dining room lighting depends on the shape of the table. For long, rectangular tables choose multiple pendants or linear chandeliers. For round tables, go with mini chandeliers or staggered pendants. Task lights are the most important in the bathroom, and the lighting around the mirror is the most essential here – bathroom sconces and vanity lights are the best choices. Depending on the size of your bathroom, you might need more than one ambient fixture (e.g. one in the center of the room and the other above the bathtub). Bedroom lighting needs to create a relaxing atmosphere. Don’t place the general fixture above the bed to avoid glare. It would be useful to have dimmers to be able to control the light intensity. If you have a reading nook, use a table/floor lamp or a pendant to provide adequate light for reading.
Lighting fixtures as style statements
Finally, lighting fixtures need to fit into the overall style of the room. It is not the same if your home is decorated in Mid-century modern or vintage fashion. So here are the most frequent interior design approaches and fixtures that fit them best:
Arts and crafts: Fixtures made of thick and solid materials, usually of rectangular shape.
Contemporary: Clean, uncluttered lines, complete absence of ornamentation.
Country: Rough-hewn woods, heavily textured surfaces and natural forged metals.
Traditional: Elegant, gentle curves and restrained ornamentation.
Transitional: Earth-tone finishes, traditional lines, light ornaments.
Scandinavian: Simplistic, often bell-shaped pendants in neutral or metallic hues.
Oscar de la Renta said that the most important thing is “perfect lighting at all times”, and he couldn’t be more right. Take these tips and use them to create the home you deserve.