Home Style: Bright ideas for lighting your home
Scripps Howard News Service
STYLE AT HOME
With photo/graphic: SH12G092HOMESTYLE
By MARY CAROL GARRITY
Scripps Howard News Service
Whether it's a petite night light in the powder room or a grand chandelier in your entry, we demand a lot from the lighting in our homes. The right fixtures in the right places not only provide the illumination we need, but they do so with beauty and grace. Here are some ideas.
1. Set a Mood with Accent Lights
While they don't add much in the way of illumination, accent lights are an essential part of a well-dressed room because they set the mood, add warmth and usher in lots of character. I like to place accent lamps in areas that are already well lit, but could use an added touch of sparkle, like on an entry table, a dining-room buffet, the counter in a powder room or in the kitchen.
Since accent lights won't be providing the main source of lighting in a room, you can focus simply on how they look, not how they perform. I often opt for lamps that look like artwork themselves. One of my favorites is a lamp that resembles a weathered garden statue. In this one decorative piece, we have two of my favorite decorating tools: garden statues and accent lighting.
Accent lights make wonderful, welcoming night lights. After Dan and I are done cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, we turn off the overhead lights but leave a small accent light burning on the counter, so when we pop back in to answer the phone or grab a glass of water, we are greeted in the darkness by a soft, warm glow. I also like to turn on an accent light in the main-floor powder room when I entertain so guests can find their way.
If you want a small seating arrangement to look warm and inviting, add an accent light. Place one on the table in your breakfast nook to pull the grouping together and make it look finished. Try the same idea next to a chair in your entry or bedroom.
2. Get Stuff Done with Functional Lighting
I love to set a mood in my home, but every once in a while, I need to get stuff done. That's where functional lighting shines. These lamps need to bathe a room in light, and look beautiful while doing it.
While I love black shades, they restrict the light output of a lamp. So if you're picking a lamp to put on your office desk, in the main conversation area in your family room or by your bedside where you read, go with a light shade.
While small, delicate lamps are occasionally the right choice if you have a tiny table or other small space, most often a bigger lamp will look better on a standard-sized table. The key to picking the right-sized lamp is to study the size and scale of the table where it will sit, the size of the furnishings that surround it and any other accents that will be on the table. Go with the largest-sized lamp that will work.
Lamps are an investment, so you need to treat them well so they will last for years. Make sure your lamp is fit with the right-sized halo and shade. If you're not sure, take it to a lighting store and ask the pros. Check shades periodically to make sure they are holding up. If they are faded, dingy or out of style, replace them. (I've found that when you use higher-wattage bulbs in lamps, the shades need to be replaced more often.) Sometimes just updating the shades can invigorate a room.
3. Illuminate Rooms with Stylish Chandeliers
As a general rule, I'm not a huge fan of overhead lighting because I think it can be cold and harsh. But, I have to confess, a gorgeous chandelier still makes me weak in the knees. Right now, the selection of chandeliers is better than I've ever seen, and I'm thrilled by what I'm seeing at market.
Don't skimp when it comes to lighting -- spend the extra money and get a lamp or chandelier that will add to the style of your home, not detract from it.
The trend now in overhead lighting is to go big. Lots of our customers at Nell Hill's want hefty fixtures to hang over kitchen islands or in entries because these large-scaled pieces bring a lot of drama.
When I moved into my home, I loved the chandelier hanging in the dining room, but the scale was too small for me. When I finally found a chandelier that was just right, I moved the existing dining-room fixture to my den and moved the den chandelier upstairs. You can try the same thing if you opt to upsize a fixture.
You can find beautiful chandeliers and lamps at antiques stores or flea markets. Simply have one rewired, and you have a treasure. Or, if you're creative, you can make a lamp out of something unique, like an antique bird cage. Spray-paint it a fun color and have it fitted with a bulb and chain and you have a novel light.
(The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol(at)nellhills.com.)