Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Let There Be Light!

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This is a post I did for my design blog a few years back. The information is still current so thought I would re-post for those who like an occasional design tutorial.

I think we would all agree that lighting is very important to creating atmosphere or ambiance in a room. I would carry it one step further and say it is the most important aspect of any room. Don't we all look more lovely basking in the glow of candle light as opposed to the harsh glare of florescent lighting? So it is with our homes. In terms of decorating we have basically two types of light. Natural light that enters the windows from the sun and artificial lighting that we get from lamps, etc.

Natural light is so important to the way a home looks and feels and the most important thing regarding that is to keep your blinds and curtains open during the day. I cannot tell you how many homes I have done design or staging consultations in that look so uninviting and boring for this reason alone. If privacy is an issue there are several solutions~you just have to have natural light.


As for artificial lighting, it has come a long way in the last several years. If I needed to select one place where people try skimp and save, it's the under utilization of lamps. I have worked in very expensive homes that have the worst lamps imaginable. You do not need to spend a fortune on lamps but you do need to get enough lighting in each room. One of the best places I have found for great and affordable lamps is HomeGoods. They have some very fun and funky lamps with interesting shapes and shades. I love this one. I have gotten some gorgeous lamps for under $70 and most of theirs are under $40.00

They can be functional and fabulous
you don't have to sacrifice one for the other.


The details of your home...all of them, are
what make it interesting.

Think Disneyland~it's all in the details.

I am lovin' the fun shape of this whole lamp and
having two for the price of one by having it in front of
the buffet mirror.


This is our only expense lamp. I have found
that the cheaper
pharmacy lamps usually
do not hold the position you

want them in very well over time.
If you want one, get a good one.
This one was $200.00 at Pottery Barn.
The high quality was worth it. It has
been great for several years already.
It is a keeper.

Ambient (which literally means something that surrounds) light or task lighting is important in every home. We need lights to see what we are doing! Examples of this are most overhead lighting, desk lamps, reading lamps, etc. In this definition I would exclude lights that are recessed in the ceiling to give a dramatic look, spot light art, etc. These are more decorative although they can be ambient if placed over a counter or desk, etc.

Lamps are essential to create ambiance or a nice warm cozy feeling in a room. Often people are annoyed that their homes do not have overhead lighting in their bedrooms, this is a good thing. Bedrooms should have lamps to create a nice warm glow, not just stark overhead lighting. Various types of lamps that create ambiance are table lamps, floor lamps, up lights and torchieres and chandeliers. The nice thing about lamps is that you can vary the lighting in various parts of the room by simply switching them on and off or by using dimmers, 3-way bulbs, etc.

This is one of those touch lamps
that has 3 settings
...Love it!


I love the buffet lamps because they are actually taller than regular table lamps which helps with the scale with our bigger, taller furniture and beds. They are great on lower end tables so your light sounce is actually high enough to illuminate the pages of your book.

This is one of the homes we redesigned:
The lamps are too low and too small for this bed.

These are Perfect!
We found them in another area of the home,
not being used.

When you have placed your furniture correctly your lamps should always form either a diagonal line or triangle. What we see so often is a sofa with two end tables and a lamp on each one. This is not correct unless you have another lamp to form a triangle on the opposite side of the room. If you have a lamp on both side of your bed make sure you have another one on your dresser to form a triangle. It does not have to be an equilateral triangle. Two can also work if they are placed on the diagonal (one on the dresser diagonally across from the one near the bed.

It is also fun to have some smaller accent lamps throughout your home to cast some interesting shadows or highlight something special.


This has a sweet little glow at night and illuminates
the naughty and contented cat that ate
the canary in the bird cage.

This tin punched lamp casts a
wonderful fun light on to the wall.
Double click to see the pattern illuminated.

This little fringe lamp adds
a touch of light on top of the armoire.

You all know you can use books to bring
things up to the height you want.

And of course don't forget candles
and oil lamps for a cozy touch.

I will not be using this candle but have
blackened the wick to make it appear that I do.

Just a note on candles. Even if they are just decorative in your home, light the wick briefly to give the appearance that they are used. White wicks just look weird and are most often accompanied by a dusty candle top. Not good.

So invest in some nice pretty lamps and if your lamps are old...get some new ones. Nothing says outdated like a trendy lamp from the distant past. You can always change the shade, add some embellishments, paint it or do something to lighten and liven things up. Let there be light...lots of it.

3 comments:

laura.elizabeth said...

Awesome post, Mom and of course, I agree with you! Proper lighting and lots of greenery- those are key to making a house feel like a home! I miss working with you- those were great times, hu? Love you lots!

Julie Harward said...

I couldn't agree more...I have lots of this kind of lighting in my home too and I even have added a small pine tree by my fireplace, it is so gorgeous at night! ;D

Sister Susie said...

My two favorite pictures are: your tall lamp with the dark orange shade against the wooden paneling, and your tall lamp with the rooster figurine!
Nice arrangements!
Love you,
Susie