Design / August 30, 2021

Lighting Tips to Remember

Lighting, or lack thereof, can make or break a space. Let me tell you a quick story: When we first moved into our current home, we upgraded the existing dining room pendant for one a little more modern. When we finally had guests over for dinner, we found ourselves dining under a spotlight! Sort of a party foul. Turns out, this could have all been avoided if I had remembered to install it on a dimmer switch. I want to save you from making the same mistakes I have, so I thought of some lighting tips worth remembering.

Lighting Tip #1: Choose the Right Color Temperature

Color temperature can be easily overlooked and when it’s not right, you definitely notice. Sitting under a 3500K lightbulb (a color temperature meant for task lighting) while having a romantic dinner just doesn’t jive. A warm, soft glow reminiscent of candlelight is more appropriate, so you would want to opt for a 2700K light. Color temperature generally ranges from 2700K to 5000K. The higher the number, the colder (more blue) the light. Below is a breakdown of color temperatures I like to use in each room:

Recessed Downlights3500K
Dining Room Pendant2700-3000K
Kitchen Pendant3000-3500K on dimmers
Bathroom Pendant or Sconce3500K
Wall Sconce2700K
Table Lamp2700K
Task Lamp3500K

I rarely go above 3500K because I find the light becomes too cold and sterile. Anything 4000K and up is reserved for office or commercial warehouse environments. 

glossy blue walls and globe pendant
via Soho Home
The pendant globes pair beautifully with a candlelit dining table and create a warm atmosphere. I also love their soft reflection on the glossy midnight blue wall. 
silver task lamp and bookshelf
via Rejuvenation
Desk lamps not only provide useful lighting, but add character to your space.

Lighting Tip #2: Decide If You Want a Dimmer

Before installing or purchasing a light, decide if you would like to have it on a dimmer switch. Controlling light intensity provides much more flexibility in setting your ideal atmosphere. For example, I like to dim my stair lights so if I need a glass of water in the middle of the night, I have a gently lit path that doesn’t jar me wide awake. Dimmers are also fitting for a kitchen island. Bright lighting is useful for cooking or studying while softer lighting creates an ambient mood for an intimate evening of entertaining.

Lighting Tip #3: Switch the Light On 

It might sounds obvious, but the easiest way to see if you like a lamp is to turn it on! A lamp can be entirely picturesque until you see patterns on the ceiling you weren’t expecting. To avoid any surprises, test the light if you can. Here are some characteristics to look out for:

  • How does the shade look when the light is on? Does it highlight imperfections or textures?
  • Does the light cast any patterns on the wall or ceiling?
  • Is the shade thin or thick (i.e. how much light is emitted)?
  • Can you see the lightbulb through the shade?
ceramic white dome table lamp
via CB2
The table lamps’ dome shaped, opaque shade creates a subtle glow which is more suitable as an accent light.

via lawson-fenning
Alabaster wall sconces look lovely both on and off and are a perfect example of how light should make a lamp look better, not worse.

via Urban Outfitters (Geometric Rattan Pendant, left. Swirling Rattan Pendant, right.)
Lightbulbs peek through woven rattan pendants for a casual look. 

Lighting Tip #4: Pay Attention to Detail

Getting a complete understanding of a product can be challenging when shopping online. Product images can be limited or don’t detail every part of the lamp. Below are some helpful questions to ask before making a purchase.


  • What is the underside finish of the shade?
  • Does it hang on a rod, cable, or chain?
  • What shape is the canopy? Is it square, round, or rectangular?
  • Is the finish matte or glossy?

via Rejuvenation
The pop of gold on the underside of these pendants elevates the design and creates a warm reflection.

via Lulu and Georgia (Baza Pendant Light, left. Dea Pendant Light, right)
I am in love with these bubblegum pink pendants! One detail to pay attention to is how they are suspended. In this instance, we have a chain or a cable. These details are small, but they matter to the overall aesthetic of the lamp.

Table/Floor Lamp:

  • What material is the shade?
  • What style and shape is the finial?
  • Where is the light switch located?
  • Where is the cord attached? (I have seen cords connected at the socket rather than the base. This is common for lamps with a glass body in which the only alternative would be to run the cord through the body and up to the socket).

via Zara Home
Veering away from the common canvas material, the chunky weave on this wavy lampshade is definitely eye-catching.

clear table lamp with white shade
via CB2
I love the purity of the clear glass base on this elegant lamp. That could only be possible if the cord were attached at the top end closest to the socket.

via In Common With
This playful lamp has a centrally located switch. Super cute! It’s important to note where switches are so you can decide what is comfortable for you (especially on frequently used bedside lamps).

Wall Sconce:

  • Is it plug-in or hardwired?
  • Can it be mounted both vertically and horizontally?
  • How far does it project from the wall?
  • What is the range of motion on adjustable sconces?
white wall sconce above kitchen shelf
via Cedar and Moss
Take care to measure a wall sconce’s projection, particularly if you plan on using one above a shelf or countertop. Wall sconces shouldn’t exceed the edge of the surface you are aiming to highlight.
leather and brass arm sconce
via Lostine
Adjustable arm sconces are versatile and offer flexibility. Just double-check the range of motion to make sure it suits your needs.

Lighting fixtures are not only necessary, but an important feature that enhance the home’s style and environment. On its face, choosing a lamp might seem straightforward however there are many factors to consider on both an aesthetic and technical level. I hope these lighting tips help to guide you in the right direction!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *