Lighting fixtures are simply my favorite thing to source and buy for a space. Not only are they functional, they can completely define a room. I’m equally drawn to collectible vintage fixtures as well as new designs. I often do a mix of the two. Unfortunately, amazing fixtures come at a price. Achieving a high-end look with lighting is not as easy as with other furnishings. Try splurging on one statement fixture in each room. Then fill in with other great fixtures at lower price points.
SMD Rules of Light
Here are a few rules to keep in mind when planning out your lighting scheme and selecting fixtures:
1. Vary your lighting sources. Do an interesting mix of pendants, table lamps and floor lamps.
2. Ignore your ceiling fixtures if they’re simply functional and not decorative. Use them, but don’t rely on them for the only source of light. Overhead lighting is not the most flattering to a room.
3. Please, please, please don’t use CFL bulbs! Use them in the closet or laundry room, but don’t use them in your living areas. The light is harsh and uncomfortable. You look ugly under them too. Trust me. Use incandescent lighting only and put them on dimmers to conserve energy. The light is much warmer and flattering.
4. Try to keep the majority of your lighting at ‘human’ level. As mentioned above, using only overhead lighting to provide an overall wash of light is very unflattering to you and to the room. Bring the lighting down to where you need it.
5. Think about where you need the light in a room. Flanking a sofa, flanking a bed, at a desk, in a corner near a reading chair. Don’t cluster all your light fixtures in one area…spread them out evenly. You’ll see my lighting plans below.
6. Go dramatic with design. Make a statement. Buy quality, well-designed fixtures. Think of them as sculptural object that light up. Consider the dimensions of your selections carefully before you purchase.
7. Lighting can often be used as a focal point in a room. A chandelier, for instance, can begin an entire aesthetic! Take my home for example. Remember?
Here’s how I planned out my lighting sources and the fixtures I selected.
LIVING ROOM, KITCHEN, and ENTRY
(Above: You all remember this. Vintage Raak chandelier with brass and smoke glass. This is what started it all. Hanging a chandelier at the side of a sofa provides a dramatic focal point.)
(Above: A vintage Pukeberg cast glass lamp is just what this dark corner needs. It’s a small accent lamp that lives beautifully on a small side table and provides just the right amount of illumination. It’s a sculptural little piece that’s quite conversational.)
(Above: For the built-in I selected this uber-modern glass fixture by Muuto. I love how the entire form lights up and becomes another white decorative element on the dark cabinetry. The light from this bounces off the bronze mirror!)
(Above: Sometimes you just have to get the job done. The kitchen needs light. This track system gives me the light I want where I want it. It’s not ugly, and it IS functional. The layout of my kitchen doesn’t really accommodate a lovely fixture. Besides, I spent time and money painting the kitchen walls black to shadow it from the rest of the living area. Why would I want a statement fixture to call the attention back? Think about it.)
(Above: Most people put a chandelier in their entry or foyer. Me? No. Why? I don’t really have a foyer to speak of. Instead of calling attention to my lack of foyer, I simply added a spotlight to shine on a piece of art directly adjacent to the door. It illuminates the doorway nicely, but doesn’t steal attention from the prettier fixtures I REALLY want you to see. Remember…don’t go overboard with lighting!)
(Above: Just like the Pukeberg lamp in the living room, this is a little piece of sculpture that I’ve placed on a small cabinet opposite the bed. The light floods over to the desk niche too! It’s vintage murano glass. It’s probably going to change in the near future because it’s not my favorite piece of all time.)
(Above: The ‘starburst’ of the show. Get it? I don’t really turn this fixture on very much unless I have it very dimmed. It provides a lot of light which is good when you’re folding laundry, but not when you’re…you know.)
(Above: I used these fixtures from Moooi to flank the bed. The form is simple and clean. I wanted something fresh, weighty and modern next to the bed that didn’t complicate the headboard or bedding. The interesting thing? The entire fixture glows! The base and the shade are all the same material, and each have a bulb. Simple, but unique.)
(Above: These vintage Robsjohn-Gibbings lamps have a heavy, solid marble base. The form is simple, but the material is luxurious! These rest on each end of the new wall-mounted credenza and bounce light off the wall into the space. They also ‘frame’ the artwork above with light. Very nice effect. Plus…it’s nice to have task lighting at a desk. I chose not to use office-y office lamps in order to keep the sexy vibe of the rest of the space. Remember…it’s all open to one another.)