simple is beautiful

Lighting Advice: Tips From the Trade

Monday, March 24, 2014


There's a saying that rules are made to be broken, but sometimes rules give us a starting point. Especially when it comes to decor.  I think most folks do what they want within reason ignoring those "old" rules that once defined the homes of many.  Function and comfort trump perfection and formality as we try to create a safe haven free from a world of chaos.  Still there are those daunting questions that pop up from time to time when making lighting changes.  Here are a few rules shared by designers that at least give you a place to start when making some of these decisions.  Of course not everything falls into the cookie cutter mold, but this can at least help you to move in the right direction.

1.  Chandelier size.  This is a great tip for finding the appropriate chandelier size for a room.  Add the length and width of a room in feet and your chandelier's diameter should match that in inches.



2.  Chandelier height.  Ever wonder how high to hang the chandelier over the table? It should hang 60-66" above the floor.  



3.  Bathroom lighting.  We've all been there.  The overhead light is not our friend - especially when standing in front of a mirror.  Sconces that flank the mirror (if you have room) are much more flattering.



4.  Sconce height.  Now that you've decided to use sconces beside the mirror rather than above it, where do you hang them?  Normally 66" from floor to mid-sconce is a good starting point.



5.  Do my lamps have to match?  This is very much a personal preference.  I'm a symmetry girl and tend to go with pairs of matching side tables, lamps, etc.  Many times we are working with what we have.  In this case two lamps that don't match work together as long as they are similar in scale and about the same height.



Here is another example using a table lamp with a floor lamp.  You can see the overall result is the same.




Now it's your turn, do you have any lighting advice or tips to share?

19 comments:

  1. Oh, great rules! I know that these are "guidelines" but they will definitely come in handy. Thanks for sharing.

    http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com

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  2. So great to have these gathered into one place! My one tip to add is to be sure to check the amount of light a fixture can give, so often I see a great light and find that it simply isn't bright enough.

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    1. Great point Cathy - and so true!

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  3. Thanks! Those are great rules to follow!!!

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  4. great tips! especially as my over-40 eyes are slowly failing me and I need more and better lighting in my life to function :)

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  5. FYI Your instructions say to find the square footage of the room, which would mean multiplying the length by the width, but the other instructions in the box say to add the length and width, which seems right. But good tip.

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    1. So glad you caught that Lisa! That's what I get for working late at night :). It has been fixed now. Thank you!

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  6. i loved this post - such a good bit of meat in this for everyone! i never knew that about sconce height - just got a wrinkle in my brain! good starting point for sure...

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  7. I am in a quandary about what kind of light to put over my bed--a very tall pencil-post bed, king-size. New light would replace ceiling fan that I'm finally ditching, and will hang about at the foot of the bed, centered b/w the posts, just b/c that's where the center of the room is. So do I look at chandeliers, lanterns, shaded light, or what? I'm at a loss, b/c I seem to lack all ability to visualize what anything I like might really look like once it's installed up there...

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    1. Hmm...it is tough to say without seeing a picture of your room and knowing a few key measurements Alice. Here's to ditching the ceiling fan :).

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  8. Very good and informative post!! I pinned away. I DO have a guideline for how much lighting to use in a room on my blog post, there is actually a formula that might help your readers.....http://goodlifeofdesign.blogspot.com/2013/05/do-you-have-enough-lighting-in-your_9.html

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    1. Thanks so much Kathysue! I will check that out.

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  9. I had to laugh a little reading this - all of the bathrooms in our new house have overhead, recessed lights, and only overhead, recessed lights. Every time I look in the mirror I have to hold back a cringe! And it is utterly impossible to see stray eyebrow hairs that need plucking ;)

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    1. Haha! Your comment made me laugh out loud. We do need good lighting in our bathroom don't we?

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  10. I love these tips and will be sure to pin them. I love the idea of the sconces next to the bathroom mirror rather than above it. Also, the older I get the more I appreciate lighting that can be dimmed!

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  11. Lighting is definitely one of the most important elements in any space. I always have my electrician put dimmers on all the switches, even bathrooms and walk in closets. Great post!

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    1. You are absolutely right about dimmers!

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  12. Great post....everyone should read this!

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I love your comments and read each and every one. Your questions will be answered here or you can email me at rene.cottageandvine@gmail.com

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