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Choosing a light fixture
Choosing A Light Fixture Better Homes And Gardens

Choosing A Light Fixture Better Homes And Gardens Choosing A Light Fixture Better Homes And Gardens

To make a more subtle design statement above, try a ceiling-mount light fixture. Kitchens, family rooms, and hallways still deserve a decorative touch when it comes to lighting the room. Ceiling-mount fixtures come in styles to coordinate with all decors and offer more design impact than recessed lighting but more subtle attention than a chandelier.

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Give a lamp a facelift with a new shade. Just make sure it’s a good fit. As a rule of thumb, the bottom of the lampshade should be 8 inches wider than the widest part of the lamp base and should be two-thirds the height of the base. Position a lamp so the bottom of the lampshade sits just below eye level, preventing the bulb from casting light directly in your eye.

Hang a chandelier in a room to make a statement. The eye is drawn to this light fixture when you enter a room because it is substantial in size and often showy in design — whether dripping with crystals or shimmering with sleek chrome arms. Chandeliers come in all styles for every design expression.

Kitchens call for a more complex lighting plan because so much happens in the room. Plan overhead lights for heavy-duty tasks such as wiping down cupboards and sweeping the floor. Add task lighting, such as pendant lights over the island, bar, or sink, for detail-oriented chores. Accent lights show off collectibles or design features.

Plenty of controlled lighting illuminates a multitasking basement media space. When the television is on, dimmed accent lights can provide a subtle and unobtrusive glow. Bright overhead lighting is a necessity in a basement room, but dimmers allow the light to be reduced for optimum television viewing. When placing lighting, avoid pointing any light directly at the TV screen to prevent glare.

To blend with modern design, choose light fixtures with clean-line shapes and limited detail. Look for fixtures made from steel, chrome, and glass to coordinate with contemporary furnishings.

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Function rules in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean lighting has to give up design to accomplish its tasks. Hang pendants over islands, sinks, and counters to add splashes of color and graphic shape.

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Although nearly everyone includes task lighting on the bedside table, a bedroom can benefit from more task lighting on a dresser, an accent light on a photo or work of art, and overhead lights on a dimmer switch for general ambience. The best light for bedrooms is generally warm light, which is more flattering and restful. If you do a lot of reading in your bedroom, however, be sure to keep a cool-light shaded task lamp nearby to prevent eyestrain.

Pendants are smaller hanging light fixtures that draw attention in a room, in part because their decorative portion hangs down closer to eye level on a long poll or wire. Hung individually, they are perfect for smaller spaces or areas that need direct lighting, such as over a kitchen island. When hung in a group, pendants can make a big design statement, similar to a chandelier.

Kitchens are often the hub of the household, incorporating many more activities than meal prep. When creating a lighting plan, consider the illumination you’ll need for entertaining or for working at a desk. Instead of a large chandelier, consider a series of pendant lights above a large island. The light source will be more diffused but will cover more area. The wattage of the bulbs can be reduced to compensate for the greater number of fixtures, and a dimmer system will make them more adaptable for every activity. The basic rule for the height of a pendant light is 35-40 inches above the work surface.

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Transitional design — a subtle blend of traditional and contemporary — is popular today in light fixtures to complement our eclectic homes. Fixtures made from simple materials, such as wrought iron, lend themselves to many decors. Chandeliers with curvilinear arms and fixtures featuring subdued ornamentation also blend nicely.

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Chandeliers were once reserved for grand statements in dining rooms and entries. Embrace their trendy use today in nontraditional spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. A sparkling chandelier is the perfect way to romance these private spaces.

Without supplemental task lighting, the eyes can grow weary looking at the glow of a computer screen. When choosing light bulbs for a desk lamp, keep in mind that cooler, or bluish, light helps with reading tasks. Glare can create an unwelcome distraction in a home office, so use a shaded lamp with a bulb of no more than 60 watts. Brighten the rest of the office space with soft lighting from a pendant lamp.

Lighting can set the mood of a room — not just by the light it gives off and the mood it sets but by the actual light fixtures. Consider design, as well as function, when choosing the right light fixtures for your rooms.

Task lighting is important in many places throughout the house, such as for bathroom mirrors and showcasing artwork. Think beyond standard task lighting (track and spot lights), and seek wall sconces that add design character as well as function. Sconces also offer a decorative way to illuminate a hallway instead of overhead lighting.

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Proper lighting enhances the decorating scheme in every room of your home.

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— Select a hanging fixture no wider than the width of a table minus 12 inches.

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The dining room is a good candidate for a dimmer switch because flexibility is a key feature of this space. With a dimmer switch, you can use low lighting for dinner parties or flood the room with light for a casual homework station. If possible, wire every light in the room to a central dimmer system to instantly set the appropriate mood or render a glow akin to candlelight.

Give a room an instant facelift by changing the lamps or lampshades. An affordable accessory, a new lamp can give a room a fresh look. Or, redecorate without spending a dime by trading lamps among rooms. There’s more than one perfect shade for every lamp base, too. Pick up a couple of new lampshades to refresh a stale look.

Fabric, wallcoverings, and furniture can all transform a room, but one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to freshen a room is through lighting. Proper layering of light can enhance color and ambience. Layering involves the careful use of task, accent (or decorative), and ambient (or overall) lighting within each room. Develop a lighting plan that addresses every purpose your room may serve or each task you will accomplish in it.

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The wide selection of decorative lighting offers many design options. Still, sometimes less is more. Lighting that is not noticed can be a design choice, too. In this clean-lined, contemporary room, recessed can lighting is as much about design as it is about function.

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The bedroom offers multiple opportunities for decorative lighting accents. For overall ambiance, hang a pretty chandelier or a quaint ceiling-mount fixture in the center of the room. For bedtime reading, choose stylish table lamps or functional and decorative wall sconces. A writing desk or sitting area offers the perfect spot for task lighting.

Hung over the center of the dining table, a chandelier is a traditional fixture for providing light in the dining room. An attractive chandelier can serve as a decorative focal point for the space and provide a nucleus for arranging furniture and other lighting such as complementary sconces. In a room with 8-foot ceilings, a chandelier should hang about 33 inches above the table; add 3 inches for every foot above 8 feet. Keep your room layout in proportion by selecting a fixture that is about 12 inches narrower than the top of your table.

For many people, a bedroom is much more than a place to sleep — it can be a place to watch television, relax with a good book, work at a desk, or dress for an evening event. Plan your lighting for the ways you use this hub of activity. Soft recessed ceiling lights provide ambient illumination, while task lamps stand ready at the desk and nightstand. Overhead, a beautiful chandelier acts as both dimmable ambient fixture and decorative accent.

Creating warm, welcoming rooms is easier with well-planned, well-placed lighting. Using bases and shades to enhance your decorative scheme makes your lighting another ingredient in a pulled-together room. Here, a red shade on a wall sconce brings an accent color up to eye level as you enter the room. The animal-print base on the table lamp injects an extra hit of personality in the space.

An effective lighting strategy for your entry can make your home look more welcoming. An overhead light on a dimmer switch helps you set an appropriate mood at your front door. A large lantern, chandelier, or subtle recessed lights create ambient illumination. Accent lights highlight a work of art or architectural feature to create visual interest, while task lighting illuminates an entry table.

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Living rooms may not have an overhead fixture for overall lighting and instead rely heavily on portable task lamps around the room. Accent lights can make such a room work harder and smarter. This can include spotlights on plants or artwork, indirect light concealed behind crown molding or above casework, even a light behind a chair to brighten a dim corner. When you add this type of accent lighting, keep in mind that the effect of the light should focus on improving the atmosphere of the room. The light source itself should seem almost invisible.

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While lighting artwork is often considered essential in public rooms of the house, it is an often-overlooked element in a bedroom lighting plan. And it needn’t require the addition of fixtures and switches. In this bedroom, accent and ambient light sources combine in a track system that provides overall light and focuses spotlights on artwork throughout the room.

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Scale and proportion are important in choosing the size and placement of hanging light fixtures. Consider these measurements:

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Portable lighting — or lamps — is a popular element of design in every room. On a table or on the floor, they accessorize spaces with interesting shapes and colors. Use them to add scale by mixing tall and short, petite and bulky.

Light fixtures are a key element in the design of a room. “Think of decorative lighting as architectural jewelry. It can dress up or dress down the look,” lighting designer Randall Whitehead says. Consider style, shape, color, and size when choosing a light fixture as the perfect accessory.

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Dining rooms are probably the easiest rooms in the house for most people to light effectively. After all, most of the action happens around the table. A chandelier or pendant over the dining table does the lion’s share of the work, but don’t forget the possibilities of a task lamp on the sideboard or in-cabinet lighting to put the spotlight on a china hutch filled with favorite collections or family heirlooms.

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Lighting is an important function at the bathroom vanity. Give it equal importance as a design element by using decorative sconces instead of expected recessed lighting. Various styles can convey a spa mood or an elegant retreat.

A bathroom needs to look and feel different from day to night. In the morning, bright white light awakens and refreshes; while at night, a soft light can provide a spa-light mood or dimmed light can accommodate a late-night visit. In this bath, ample natural light supplements the overhead and task lighting to create an inviting atmosphere. Mirrors keep the light moving throughout the space.

— The bottom of a light fixture hanging from an 8-foot ceiling should hang 27-30 inches above a dining table. For higher ceilings, add 3 inches for each additional foot.

Sconces above and beside a vanity mirror assure appropriate light for daily tasks. Place sconces near face height for the most flattering illumination and the fewest shadows. While task lighting is the most important type in a bathroom, pay attention to the other layers as well. Bathrooms with well-placed accent lighting can be more welcoming, and an overhead light on a dimmer switch is easier on the eyes during late-night or early-morning visits.

A home office should be heavy on task lighting. Lamps on a desk or worktable are essential to reduce eyestrain. An overhead light on a dimmer switch is useful for working at night or on cloudy days to add brightness to the room. Accent lights add an inviting, decorative element to an otherwise utilitarian space.

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BHG.COMDecoratingHome AccessoriesTipsChoosing a Light Fixture

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If your decorating style is primarily traditional, look for light fixtures with more ornamentation and complexity in their shape. Materials, such as brass and crystal, and decorative finishes, such as bronzed and brushed, also give lamps and chandeliers a traditional look.

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— Hang pendant lights 35-40 inches above kitchen work surfaces.

This long entry space benefits from multiple light sources. Twin overhead fixtures wash the foyer in light. At the stairway landing a pair of matching lamps creates a focal point. The large mirror behind the entry table reflects the light throughout the area. Used in partnership with an ambient light for maximum effect, a mirror will bounce light into dark corners and brighten dead ends.

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In a large open-room plan, relying on overhead light won’t do the trick. A comprehensive plan for the space includes a dimmable chandelier over the dining table, pendant lights above the island and undercabinet lighting on either side of the sink for kitchen tasks, as well as table lamps in the living area and accent spotlights on the beams for soft illumination toward the ceiling.

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Balance and adaptability are keys to a well-lit living space. That means permanent fixtures such as a chandelier or a ceiling fan with a light kit should be on a dimmer switch. Overhead fixtures should work in tandem with task lighting such as a floor lamp or lamp on a side table. Wall sconces and down lights or spots accent elements around the room in a final layer of lighting.

Most kitchen illumination focuses on task lighting, but bathing a kitchen in soft light creates a much more inviting space. Recessed ceiling lights arranged around the room are especially useful when the room is being used simultaneously by several people for different purposes such as cooking, homework, or socializing. Smaller accent and task lights such as in-cabinet and undercabinet lighting provide sufficient light on their own to illuminate the room when most of the activity moves elsewhere.

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