How to Choose Lighting for Your House – Style, Size, Location, Height and More

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Today we'll be breaking down lighting and how to choose a right light fixture for your space. This article comes highly requested by one of my neighbors, she actually just bought a brand new house in California and has no idea where to begin with lighting. I mean you got bathrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, pendants, sconces, chandeliers, where do you even begin in this article. I'll be breaking down the four key principles that you should look out for, when deciding on the right light fixture for your space. We'll be talking about the size of the fixture and the location of the room, the scale of the fixture in proportion to the room, the ceiling heights and the shape of the room and lastly we'll be breaking down the styles and the functions.

Size and Location

Typically a living room is one of the largest common areas that you'll have in your space. I love to install a chandelier, because a chandelier has arms to appropriately fill up the space. A dining room light fixture is usually situated right above the table, what you want to do is to specify a smaller chandelier or a pendant light. Not only does it light up your tabletop, but it's a really beautiful focal point to kind of anchor this. Kitchen islands are usually one of the trickier spaces to source a light fixture. First you have to measure the size of your island and then you'll know what type of fixture looks best right underneath it. For smaller or square- shaped islands, look for a linear pendant or petite chandelier. For islands 6 ft. or longer, try 2-3 pendant lights spanning the length of the island. Bedroom is the perfect space to install a really beautiful crystal chandelier, which highlights the bed sets, the mood and makes the bedroom feel much cozier. For bathrooms, I love to install a wall night or a vanity sconce, even if you have general recessed lighting. A wall sconce is a perfect place to show off a little bit more of your personality. For really narrow passageways like hallways or closets, I love to install flush mounts, which will allow you to walk right underneath it without impeding the walkway and it won't hit your head since nothing's dropping down.

Scale and Proportion

Have you ever walked into someone's house and all of a sudden, they had a really huge living room and a tiny little fixture, which means the proportion of the fixture is totally off. In relation to the size of the room, interior designers know that scale and proportion is one of the most key ingredients. When it comes to designing your space, the first thing you need to do is bust out those tape measures. You absolutely need to understand the size of your space and the ceiling height, before you get to source each individual light fixture for your space

Ceiling Height and Shape of Room

Let me break down all these different ceiling heights for you. Starting with something very typical -an 8-foot ceiling, you wouldn't want like a chandelier, dropping right on top of people's head.

So for an 8-foot ceiling, a flush mount fixture would be best. I will probably store something between 12 to 18 inch diameters for a botched mouth chandelier. For 9-foot ceiling, you have a little bit more height, but just think that's 12 more inches you can either install another flush mount or you can have another drop with a semi-flush mount, and the typical size will probably vary between 18 inches in diameter, depending on what the fixture looks like, and how low it drops I probably wouldn't exceed 22 inches. For 10-foot to 11-foot ceiling height, you have a little bit more options, depending on where the location is. If it's in a living room and you have a coffee table underneath or if it's against the hallway and you're trying to light up a little seating area, definitely consider what's laying underneath it and you'll know how far you can drop that fixture it down. Therefore you can probably go about 22 inches of 26 inches, which would be the perfect size for a 10 to 11 foot ceiling. If you have a space with a 12-foot ceiling, 30 inches would probably be the minimum. I would go not only would this allow you to fill up the space better, but the size of the light fixture would be a really beautiful contrast to the height of the ceiling. For double-height ceilings, like 17 feet or even up to 20 feet, what you want to do is source the largest fixture that you can around 54 inches to 72 inches in diameter. I know that sounds really massive, but you're trying to fill up a really huge space. And I am falling about statement lighting, the bigger the better. Remember that there are always exceptions to these general guidelines. Definitely understand where you're placing the light fixture and you'll know how large you can go in relation to the ceiling height.

Style and Function

Next we'll be breaking down the style of fixtures and the key characteristics, you know what to look for when designing your space. For instance, if your style is glam, you want to look for statement lighting, characterized by crystals, mercury glass, something really beautiful reflective and bold is your style. A little bit more bohemian, worldly, do you love that jungle look, if so, look for something with swags, chains and fringe. If you like a modern farmhouse, which is almost kind of industrial, but is characterized by distressed wood, a little bit of metal, lack matte or a really cool brushed nickel. Farmhouse lighting is totally fixer-upper Joanne and Gaines type of vibe, if your style is more modern, you absolutely want to look for a fixture that highlights a lot of glass and very clean simple lines. If your style is more traditional, you want to look for a fixture with fabric shades or maybe even crystals. If your style is mid-century modern, it's a very 1950s look, characterized by bubble glass and bulbous glass. If your style is a little bit more on the industrial side or you live in a loft, you love that type of metal and glass and wood. I love to source from Wayfair and Overstock, because not only do they have a variety of items, they have a very different price point.  

  • For Glam Lighting, key features: crystals, mercury glass, reflective, bold
  • For Boho lighting, key features: swags, chains, and fringe
  • For farmhouse lighting, key features: industrial, distressed wood, metal, black matte, and brushed nickel
  • For modern lighting, key features: glass and clean simple lines
  • For traditional lighting, key features: fabric shades and crystals
  • For mid-century modern lighting, key features: bubble glass and bulbous glass
  • For industrial lighting, key features: metal, glass and wood

Summary

Here are my designer tips for lightening and choosing the right fixture. For your space, always place your lighting on dimmers. If you don’t have dimmers currently installed, call an electrician or even YouTube how to do it yourself. Also make sure you buy dimmable lightbulbs. You want to be able to control how dim or bright the light emits, so that you can control the vibe and the mood of face. The only exception is probably the bathroom lighting, where you want a controlled amount of light all the time. So if you have a wall sconce in the bathroom and separate recess LEDs dimmers for the recess LEDs and a regular on and off switch for the wall sconce, remember these are not hard step rules. It's just a general guideline to help you take the guesswork, out of choosing the right fixture for your space.