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Using Lighting Elements to Change Your Living Space

crystal chandelier shines hanging

Antique furniture gives your home undeniable charm, and collecting and arranging those pieces can be life-giving. You put in time, effort, and money so your home will stand out. Yet even after all of that, one thing can throw off an entire room: lighting. Lighting sets the tone for your space more than any other design element. From the moment you enter a room, it’s easy to tell if the lighting doesn’t feel right. Perhaps the light is too harsh or too dull. Maybe the lamps noticeably clash with the rest of the decor. It’s normal to feel frustrated with the light in your space, especially when working toward a specific design style.

The lighting choice becomes even more difficult when your home is furnished with curated antiques. The fixtures you choose should feel just as intentional. You may be tempted to look for antique lighting elements, but that may result in a home filled with candles and oil lamps. Candles add ambiance, but may not be practical long-term. Let’s explore how to use lighting to your advantage. We’ll learn how to use light itself to create a mood and how to use lighting fixtures to enhance your already appealing decor.

Types of Lighting Fixtures

Light fixtures should complement the antique statement pieces you already love; they should slide into place like they were designed to fit together. To achieve that harmony, we first need to know what options are available. This will allow you to shop with a plan in mind.

Chandeliers are the quintessential antique lighting fixture. They can be found in every old movie ballroom scene, but chandeliers don’t need to be audacious pieces dripping in crystals. Chandeliers can be smaller, ornate, overhead lights that rival any other antiques in uniqueness. Overhead Lights are a group all their own. While this category can certainly overlap with chandeliers, there are many other types of overhead lighting. This can include a fan with lighting or even a simple flush mount light. We’ll discuss later how this type of light can change the feel of a room.

For more directional light, we turn to lamps and sconces. Lamps are perfect for bringing light to any part of a room. Other types of light fixtures tend to hug walls or ceilings, while a lamp can be placed anywhere. Lamps also come in infinite styles and colors, allowing more coordination with your existing pieces. A sconce is a great choice if you are looking to direct attention to a particular space or item. This wall-hugging fixture points light and guides attention to one part of the room instead of lighting up an entire area.

Layering Types of Light

If you’ve ever walked into a room and wondered why the lighting felt too harsh, it could be a lack of layering. Layering types of light allows control over the light intensity and mood of a space, with two or more types of light being recommended in each room. Instead of focusing on one type of lighting, try adding different types to your space. In this way, you can coordinate with other furniture and create a harmonious space. Below is a general guide of light types to get you started.

Ambient light is a room’s overall illumination. This is non-pointed, usually overhead lighting. Its purpose is to light the entire room and bounce off of each wall. Having a dimmer on overhead lighting will allow more control over the room’s lighting and, thus, more control over the room’s ambiance. Unlike the blanket of ambient light, task light has a specific job to do. Task light is any type of light that would help you get a job done: reading, makeup, food prep. Often, task light is achieved with lamps in specific areas where these activities are common. Installing a separate light switch for task lighting can be helpful to keep it independent from ambient lighting. And lastly, the often under-utilized accent light. While you may assume accent light is any lamp in the room, it is light that directs the eye to an accent. Track lighting can bring light to the top of cabinets while a sconce may highlight a painting. Accent lighting should be three times brighter than any surrounding light, and can help a room feel larger.

Opposites Attract

Knowing what to look for, how can you select lighting that enhances your living space? It can be tempting to stick to a single style when decorating your home, but it may be time to break those habits. Using contrast in your space can extend from the use of color to furniture to style. Contrast directs the eye where to go. A corner filled with similar items allows the eye to skim, but fill that same space with multiple styles, and it’s easy to focus on every detail. This concept can be used with lighting, too. A sleek, modern overhead light may contrast well if your dining room houses a large wood cabinet and other bulky items. If your pieces are mostly light in color, a dark lamp may set the room off and provide a visual break. You can almost always find an opposing style to bring your room design to the next level.

There are a few design elements that can affect your space as strongly as light fixtures. As you shop for pieces, keep a few simple things in mind. Choose the type of fixture that fits your living space. Not all spaces need lamps, not all spaces can use overhead lighting, and not all spaces are wired for sconces. Know what you need before you head to the store. Mix and match types of light; several light sources will allow you to control the mood and feel of your space. They will allow you to create focus in specific areas. Ambient light may work for the day, but you may want a softer focus light in the evening. Don’t be afraid to use contrast. Your existing furniture does not need to match your light fixtures. Using opposing colors, styles, and materials will create visual interest and make your space feel more intentional.

Put thought into the light in your home. Let it give your room the finished feel you’ve been working toward. You’ll be amazed at what it can do!

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