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Lighting and Interior Design: What You Need to Know

11 Jun 2020

Lighting has a big effect on how you feel in your home. The effect may be more subtle than paint color or furniture but it makes the difference between a lackluster space and a lively one.


And besides setting the mood, the right light fixtures act as decorative and functional elements; completing a room while ensuring you can read your book without a flashlight.


We met up with Cindy, our Store Manager in Middleton, to get her advice on lighting your home.



Why is lighting important?


Lighting sets the mood more than any other design element. All you need to do is think about the fluorescent lights in your dentist’s office to be reminded of just how much lighting can affect your mindset.


Spending time considering lighting can be the difference between an energetically noisy living room and one that you genuinely love to spend time in.


Cindy adds, “Lighting can affect your vision and cause eye strain if the light is too low, or cause a headache if it’s too high and bright.”


Lighting is also important as a design tool, adding warmth or coolness when necessary, and creating focal points in the room. It can soften wall colors or make them stand out. It can make a room feel small, dark, and cozy or wide, bright, and open.


Where should you start?


The first step in lighting your home is seeing how much natural light you have coming in from your windows, during the day and in the evening.


Cindy explains, “If you find that recessed or overhead lighting gives you enough visibility in that room during that time of day or night, then you may not need additional lighting.”


However, if you lack natural light, strictly overhead lighting can be unflattering and one dimensional.



This is where layering comes in. The key point is to vary where light is coming from; from the floor to the ceiling. Cindy says, “End tables are a great way to add lamps next to a chair or sofa for reading.”


A decorative floor lamp is a perfect mid-height option to create multi-dimensional lighting while adding drama and interest. Play around with where you place lamps in a room and see what effect it has.


And remember that lamps aren’t the only options: experiment with wall sconces, pendant lights, fairy lights, and track lighting fixtures. A lot of lighting is trial and error, and you may need more lighting than you think.


Choosing the right lighting


When it comes to choosing the right lighting, you want to consider not just how much natural light you get but also whether your room is northern-facing or southern-facing.


Cindy describes, “If your room is on a northern-facing with cool light, you may want to consider a warmer bulb in your lamps. With a southern exposure, you may decide on a cooler bulb.”


If the room has a dark wall or floor color, you might need to use higher wattage bulbs in your lamps to get the amount of light needed in the room. Cindy says, “Dark walls absorb light whereas a white or off-white wall will make a room appear lighter and will require less lighting.”



For an entertaining space like a dining or living room, dimmers are a great idea to easily set a warm and inviting atmosphere. Faced with a dark corner in a big living room? A floor lamp is a great option to illuminate a corner.


If you want to create an environment that’s truly calming and maybe even a little moody, avoid overhead recessed lighting and focus on adding subtle light sources like lamps and hanging light fixtures.


Final thoughts


Except for your kitchen, which is usually the brightest room in the home, your lighting shouldn’t come from one source. Varying the height, brightness, and source of lighting creates a dimensional and alive space.


Consider function first. Where will you need the most light for reading or working? Where is natural light coming in? Once you’ve answered these questions, then you can begin layering in lighting.


If you’re feeling lost, or there’s something off about your space that you can’t pinpoint, working with a designer is a great place to start.



Oftentimes it’s the most subtle changes – like replacing floor lamps with wall sconces by your bed – that can make the biggest difference to your space. A trusted designer can be the extra pair of eyes you need.


Find inspiration on our Instagram page and answers to all of your design questions on our YouTube Channel


Have a question we didn’t answer? Reach out to us!


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Author: Guest Author