5 Simple Lighting Design Tips to Brighten Up Any Space

Lighting is a powerful tool when it comes to home decor. It can be used to make your room appear bigger and more spacious, smaller and cozier, and even calmer or more refreshing.

But it’s not just the quality of light that can alter the look and feel of a room—the light fixture itself can have a major impact on how you feel in a space. All it takes is switching out a lamp, bringing a new one in, or changing your light bulbs to make a noticeable difference in your home decor.

If you are new to using light for anything other than seeing what you’re doing, you may not know where to start when it comes to choosing the right fixture or light bulb. Don’t worry—creating a pleasing and practical lighting design is easier than you might think.

To help light your way, we’re sharing 5 simple lighting design tips you can use in any space, along with some of our favourite warm modern inspiration from Instagram.

1. Layer your lighting

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If you’re not familiar with the concept of layering lighting, it may help to think of a room like a three layer cake. The base layer is general or ambient lighting, which provides a general level of light to the room so you can easily walk around and see what you are doing. It sets the tone and lends ambience to the room, typically using light sources like flush mounts and pendants, wall lights, and floor lamps.

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The next layer consists of task lighting. Task lighting is used in places that require a brighter light source, such as reading nooks, work desks, and food prep areas in kitchens. Light fixtures that are typically used for task lighting include table lamps, desk lamps, under cabinet lighting, wall sconces (especially if they are directional), and pendants.

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The top layer of the lighting cake is accent lighting. Accent lighting is primarily decorative, such as a statement chandelier or pendant lamp, but it can also be used to highlight key features of your home, such as architectural details, artwork, and other wall decor. Light fixtures that act as accent lighting are most commonly pendants, wall sconces, and directional ceiling lamps.

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2. Proper pendant placement

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Light fixtures that hang, such as pendants, are versatile lamps that can be used in a number of settings.

For low ceilings or low-hanging pendants, these fixtures are best utilized over islands, tables, desks, and counters, where there is little risk of someone hitting their head. To save space on your bedside table, for example, you could consider using a pendant lamp instead of a table lamp.

If you have higher ceilings or a pendant lamp with an adjustable cord length, you aren’t as limited by location.

DESIGN TIP: If you are selecting an exposed bulb fixture for your pendant lamps (or any fixture!), you’ll want to use a light bulb that offers some visual appeal. We recommend these aesthetically-pleasing options:

  • LED or carbon filament (AKA Edison) light bulbs - These are the old fashioned-looking light bulbs you’ve likely seen in restaurants and cafes. They come with a unique filament design that is usually curly, looped, or criss-crossed, and are available in a wide range of shapes including standard, globe, pear, and tube.
  • Silver tipped or silver bowl light bulbs - These light bulbs are made of clear or frosted glass near the base and have an opaque silver chrome (or sometimes gold, copper, or black) “bowl” near the top. Their dipped-in-silver look makes them ideal for use in situations where you want an exposed light bulb without any worry about glare.
  • Mercury Glass and String Light light bulbs - Commonly used for holiday decor, these light bulbs are also available in standard fitting sizes and provide some very decorative, relaxing lighting.
  • 3. Choose the right light fixture style

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    While choosing a style of light fixture might seem fairly straightforward to some (if you like it, get it!), to others, the decision making process can be more complex. If you fall into the second category, there are some questions you can ask yourself to help with the decision making process:

    • Are you in the market for a ceiling fixture, desk or table lamp, floor lamp, or wall sconce?
    • Is it for ambient, task, or accent lighting?
    • How much space do you have to work with? This will dictate the size of light fixture you can get.
    • Is it going to be the star of the room or does it need to fit into an existing plan?
    • If it is going to fit into an existing interior design scheme, does it need to be subtle and sleek or beautiful and ornate?

    Subtle and sleek light fixtures

    Beautiful and ornate light fixtures

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    4. Consider colour temperature

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    The colour of a white light, whether it’s bluish or reddish in tone, is known as “Correlated Colour Temperature” (CCT). The CCT scale runs from 2,200 Degrees Kelvin to 6,500K. The lower the number, the warmer the light appears to our eyes.

    Light sources like fire and traditional incandescent light bulbs have a warm CCT, whereas daylight falls on the cooler or higher end of the scale. Modern LED light bulbs can fall anywhere on this scale and are often advertised as “very warm white”, “warm white”, “cool white”, or “daylight” to indicate the type of light you can expect. The quality and accuracy of the CCT label varies from brand to brand and is almost entirely a matter of personal preference.

    As a general rule, warm lighting (in the range of 2,200-3,000K) is recommended for places like bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms—places where you relax, entertain, or prepare for sleep. Cool lighting (3,500-6,500K), which is more reminiscent of daylight, is recommended for offices, kitchens, garages—places where you work or need to concentrate on tasks.

    However, if you want all cool lighting or all warm lighting, that is up to you, just make sure the colour temperatures of each light bulb in a given room match or are coordinated. There is nothing more jarring than lighting that is unintentionally mismatched.

    DESIGN TIP: If you don’t want to be limited to one colour temperature, you can opt for a smart bulb with colour-changing capabilities. If that type of connectivity doesn’t appeal to you, there are lower-tech options such as dimmable LEDs that become warmer in colour the dimmer they are.

    5. Pick your colour palette

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    Light fixtures can very easily blend into the background and don’t need to take up visual space in your room—instead, they can simply illuminate the things that you want illuminated. But they don’t have to blend in—they can be bold and stand out as much as you like, or simply fit in with your existing colour palette.

    With each lamp, there will be different components for you to factor into your colour palette depending on the type of lamp it is, such as:

    • Lamp shade
    • Lamp body
    • Chain or cable
    • Arms or tube
    • Lamp base

    For each of these components, there are many different material and colour options available. Lamp shades alone run the gamut from opaque fabric to coloured glass. You’ll find also lamp bodies, arms, tubes, and bases made from wood, concrete, metal, glass, and plastic:

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    While looking for the perfect lamp, you will almost certainly find something to suit the colour palette of any room. If you’re not sure, simply follow the same rules of colour matching that you would with any other item you introduce into a room:

    • If you don’t already have a colour scheme selected, base your colour palette on a prominent piece of artwork, rug, or other notable piece in your room.
    • Use the colour wheel to make selections. Do you want your room to be monochrome (different shades, tones, or tints of the same colour), analogous (colours that are beside each other on the colour wheel such as red, orange, and yellow), complimentary (colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as blue and orange), or triadic (three colours that are evenly spaced on the colour wheel such as. red, yellow, and blue)?
    • Is your lamp going to be a signature piece in the room, such as a statement chandelier or pendant lamp? If so, something bold and colourful would not be out of place.
    • Is your lamp simply acting as accent or task lighting? In this case, you will want it to blend in and should select a more neutral hue.

    Bright ideas for better lighting

    Bringing new lights into a space is a simple way to update an existing design scheme and completely change the look of your home. When updating and upgrading the lighting in your home, there are many different considerations to keep in mind. These five tips can help you light your way with ease:

    • Layer your lighting
    • Proper pendant placement
    • Choosing the right light fixture style
    • Considering colour temperature
    • Picking your colour palette

    Shop our complete collection of modern lighting

    Brighter Days are ahead! Use code BRIGHTER15 for 15% off all lighting until March 1, 2021.

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