Let there be light! Lighting is a fundamental element of every room, and you can do much more with it than just allow yourself to see (though that’s very important). Whether you’re looking to show off some new decor, create a warm or cool mood, or add a touch of drama, there’s a perfect light for every space. To make the selection a little easier, I created this handy guide so you can illuminate the right option for you.
Light Function and Fixtures
The first thing to consider with any light fixture is its purpose. What is the function of the light? What room are you shopping for? How much light do you want to add to the room? How will this light find its inner happiness?
I’m kidding about the last one, but a great light is no joke. To start to answer some of these questions, let’s think about the three forms of lighting in most lighting plans.
Think of general lighting as your replacement for natural daylight. It’s meant to help you see clearly and walk around safely throughout a given room, without much detail or focus on a particular area.
Task lighting is what it sounds like: lighting that’s useful for performing specific tasks, like reading or writing (or sewing, where the high contrast of task lighting can be helpful).
Accent lighting blends function with style, helping you highlight a point of focus in a room. A well-placed lamp could provide accent lighting to a nice piece of art mounted on the wall, for example.
With this in mind, consider four main types of light fixtures.
These are your big statement lights, the centerpiece of a room’s lighting plan and hardwired through your ceiling. They typically contain many branches for light bulbs in ornate arrangements. Pop stars sometimes swing from them, but don’t try this at home.
A general rule of thumb is that the bottom of a chandelier should hang around 30 to 36 inches above the top of your table in a room assuming an 8-foot ceiling. Chandeliers and other overhead lights are good options for general lighting.
Pendants are elegant pieces of jewelry worn around the neck. They’re also single light fixtures that hang from the ceiling with hardwiring. They’re less dramatic than chandeliers, and are often placed 2 to 3 in a row over a given area (with more depending on the size of the space you’re lighting and desired effect). Pendants are also pretty flexible. Depending on the particular size and shape, you can use them for general, task, or accent lighting.
Floor lamps help add ample light to a room (or serve a unique function, such as a reading light next to a comfy chair). They’re generally on the taller side — think 60 to 72 inches (5 to 6 feet) with the lampshade at roughly eye level for someone standing in the room. Floor lamps are great for task and accent lighting.
Table lamps are great for task lighting and can generally be 24 to 36 inches tall, though you can adjust based on the surrounding furniture to get the right look
How Many Lights Do I Need?
With these fundamentals in place, let’s think about how much light you actually need in a room. A simple formula goes like this. Measure the length and width of the room and multiply them. Then multiply that square footage by 1.5 — this is how many watts of light you’ll need to fill the room. You can then divide that number of watts by different size bulbs depending on your lighting plan.
For example, if you’re lighting a room that’s 8 feet by 10 feet then you’ll need 8 x 10 x 1.5 = 120 watts to light the space properly. A couple 60-watt fixtures or a few 40-watt bulbs will get the job done. Elementary, my dear Watt-son!
Style of Light
Now that you know how much lighting you need and what kind, it’s time for the fun part: picking a style of light fixture! Let’s start with contemporary.
Classic and understated, my Ryker Table Lamp is a delight! Featuring glass casing and metal finishes, this lamp brings a traditionally modern vibe to your space. Best of all is the neutral lamp shade, easy to match with your existing decor!
Sparkly glass and crisp white lampshades make a fine pairing if you’re looking for more glam in your lighting. My set of 2 Camilla table lamps is a great option — and features a 3-way switch to control the level of light in your room.
Mixed materials can really heighten an industrial lighting look. With its metal cage-style shades, exposed light bulbs, and concrete accents, my Tasnim pendants offer a fine example of how this style can come together in your home.
Rustic is a great option if you’re looking for extra charm and warmth in your light fixture. The polywood bases on my Ashton lamps bring that rustic appeal while their brass accents add extra flair.
You can’t go wrong with traditional! The classic look my Chelsea nailhead table lamps lies in their brushed finish and soft linen shades — subtle with a touch of pizazz!
With their beige lampshades and nautical base patterns, my Bayside lamps offer a lovely transitional look for task or accent lighting.
With your overall look decided, it’s time to pick your material. Do you want the polished look of glass or marble, or something a little edgier like metal?
A touch of ceramic can bring just enough drama to a room. Just look at the beautiful blue of my Angelica table lamps! When sturdy meets shiny, everyone wins.
The rippled glass of this Wyatt pendant is an easy focal point in any room. The metal finish and visible bulb add handsome contrasts.
Marble & Stone
My Amara table lamp brings a dash of classical Italian decor with its magnificent marble base, which rests on a lovely brass pedestal.
Metal lamps meld bold with beautiful in light fixtures. With its combination of metal and crystal accents, my set of 2 Crystal lamps demonstrates stunning luxury appeal and value.
Synthetic materials can help you add some unconventional looks when selecting a light fixture. My Atlanta twist bronze lamps feature resin bases in a transitional style that coordinates well with transitional living rooms and bedrooms.
We’re not finished yet! But it is time to talk about the finish. A beautiful finish can make a good light fixture great, and make a great one even better.
Add the industrial look to your home with my stunning Pipeline floor lamp.
My Set of 2 Heather Lamps adds a nice pop of light blue to any space. This set is perfect for accenting any foyer, bedroom or living room with its sleek design.
The brass finish on this Jonah table lamp heightens the already elegant look of the seeded glass and flax shade. Whales not included.
Nothing beats the shine of a well-placed bronze lamp. Check out my Nina table lamp, a clear focal point in any room thanks to that ombre plated finish.
My Morely floor lamp showcases a great way to merge contemporary style with an old school industrial look, and the pebbled brown finish seals the deal.
Copper finishes can bring delightful polish to the right light. My Chad table lamp transforms a room with the refined contrast of its blackened base and copper shade.
A gold finish can bring some bold style to your lighting, as my Tilly brass floor lamp proves in simple and chic fashion.
A gray finish adds simple elegance to your new light fixture. My Kobi table lamp complements this with its surprising concrete base. A rock-solid choice for any room.
Nickel can turn a simple statement stunning. Just look at my Sheldon floor lamp! With its brushed nickel finish and neutral shade, it’s ready to match with any decor. Good luck finding these for a dime a dozen!
Just when you thought my Sparkle crystal goblet lamp couldn’t get any more glamorous, elegant silver finish brings it to another level. Just be sure to save the drinks for your other goblets.
White finishes give a classic look to the right room. The double gourd base and cotton French-style drum shade on my Karena petite table lamp complements the simple yet iconic appeal of the piece. Sometimes big things do come in small packages.
Share Your Lighting Style
I’d love to see how your lighting journey turned out! Feel free to share a pic and tag me @mybobs for a chance to be featured on my feed.