Interior lighting is one of the home’s most basic needs, but today’s popular fixtures are anything but basic. Designers commonly refer to lighting as the “jewelry” of a space—the finishing touch that dazzles and delights. Your home is filled with special decorative pieces, and lighting should be no exception. Now more than ever, homeowners are turning to light fixtures to showcase their personal style. Clueless about how to creatively incorporate lighting into your home? Local industry experts and designers have come to the rescue. With these tips, you’ll never be left in the dark.
Start with finish
The finish on a light fixture is key in a well-crafted piece and a way to showcase personal style. Some finishes can look dated or stand out for the wrong reasons. One of today’s biggest trends is flat, matte finishes such as rubbed bronze and toned-down metallics. Wrought iron is a timeless and versatile finish in keeping with the matte trend. Wood adds a natural flair and stands out in untreated or salvaged forms. For an especially rustic look, wire shades are playful and edgy. Glass and crystal remain popular materials, says Yaacov Golan, of The Lighting Loft (www.lightingloft.com).
Form and function also come into play when selecting statement-making light fixtures. Look for stylistic punches and attention to detail, as if selecting a work of art. Some trends you will find in today’s marketplace include:
The ever-popular drum shade is now modern and updated, says Michael Fortson of Illuminations (www.illumco.com). The drum silhouette is clean and classic, blending seamlessly with the design of any room. Make it unique by covering a basic drum shade in fabric, suggests Golan. If you prefer a neutral-colored shade, let the shape of the fixture bring the drama. Look for a pendant with multiple small drum shades across a beam for visual interest. Judy White, of Masterpiece Lighting (www.masterpiecelighting.com), suggests grouping several drum pendants of varying heights and sizes to modernize a space.
Today’s chandeliers frequently include crystal and glass elements, which cause light to dance across ceilings and make entire rooms sparkle. Unexpected uses keep things fresh. For example, don’t be afraid to use chandeliers outside of their typical locations in dining rooms and entryways. Why not hang a chandelier in the master bathroom to add European-boudoir glamour or raise the sophistication level in the kitchen? If glass and crystal are too ornate for your tastes, consider farmhouse-style fixtures that add a rustic touch for an of-the-moment look.
Beyond multi-arm chandeliers, orb-shaped fixtures command attention. Geometric shapes and textures are sculptural works of art, says Golan. Lantern-style fixtures are also common in today’s homes, bringing a touch of the past into the present. Even light bulbs have starring roles, including a major resurgence of Edison styles with exposed filaments, says White.
Mix, don’t match
Now that you know what’s new in the lighting world, it’s time to incorporate these finds into your space. To avoid an overly match-y, dated look, seek out finishes that complement, not copy, the rest of the space. While many cabinets, doors and furnishings feature shiny silver or chrome hardware, it’s not necessary to replicate that finish everywhere. “I never worry about mixing finishes!” says Fortson. “Do not be afraid to mix flat and shiny: polished chrome can be softened with flattened nickel, dark bronze... anything goes.”
Just as works of art are acquired over time, statement fixtures should have the same “collected” look, allowing each piece to speak for itself. Fortson says that many homes today are a mix of updated rooms and appliances paired with traditional furnishings and antiques. “My favorite thing to do is to put very contemporary lighting on top of traditional furniture like a Bombay chest,” he says. “The more contrast, the bigger the style kick.”
Tie it together
Interior designer Kerry Howard, of KMH Interiors (www.kmhinteriors.net), has a meat-and-three design philosophy, which is to choose key pieces of furniture and to shop for design elements around those pieces. He says to choose your main furniture, or the “meat,” then choose other elements such as rugs, mirrors and wall hangings and, finally, lighting.
Consider the characteristics of the space when deciding how and where to use lighting for maximum impact. “Various rooms require different types of lighting depending on task and function,” Golan says. “Ceiling heights require and demand a scaled size. Bathrooms and kitchens require more light for obvious task lighting. The various styles will create different looks and moods in the home.”
Remember while shopping for lighting that you are buying statement pieces and works of art. “Lighting really is the ‘icing’ on the cake in a well-decorated space,” says Howard. “It can tie everything together beautifully.”
|Altogether Home, Driftwood orb chandelier by Currey & Company, $1,109.||Crate and Barrel, Hoyne pendant lamp, $399||Ballard Designs, Petite orb chandelier, $219||IKEA, MASKRO pendant lamp, $49.99||
Circa Lighting, Orbe table lamp, $420
Lighting accounts for 15 percent of the average consumer’s energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By using energy-efficient lighting, consumers can use up to 75 percent less energy to light their home, adding up to some big savings. Here are
more tips for saving energy:
Conserve energy by using motion sensors and occupancy sensors. With sensors, you are only using light when you are at home and in need of lighting. The color temperature of the light source also is important. A color temperature between 2700-3000 Kelvin is ideal for residential lighting. Many light bulbs come with color temperature measurements listed on the packaging.
—Phil Sherer, Masterpiece Lighting
Add a dimmer to save electricity. If the light is dimmed, it’s like switching to a lower wattage bulb. Dimming a light by half can trim electric use by 40 percent over time. LEDs are four times more efficient than conventional light sources. They last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents and far longer than typical incandescents.
—Bart Lawrence, Sea Gull Lighting
Energy efficiency is now easy to achieve without sacrificing ambience or light output. LEDs will begin taking the place of incandescent bulbs and can be retrofitted onto any existing fixture. LEDs are more dimmable than compact fluorescents and not as hot.
—Michael Fortson, Illuminations