Tips for Choosing Light Fixtures for Your New Home
If you’re planning to list your home, look critically at your lighting to make sure your home will show to its best advantage. If you’re buying a home, review these tips for choosing light fixtures for your new home.
Categories of Lighting
Lighting serves different purposes. The function of each room will help you understand which types of lighting the room needs.
- Ambient, or general lighting, covers the entire room. Usually overhead, ambient lighting may be big and bold, or it may provide light without calling attention to itself.
- Task lighting is for work surfaces, like kitchen islands, desks, or vanities. Task lighting focuses on the work area alone.
- Accent lighting highlights objects or areas, like paintings or bookcases. Accent helps create a focal point in the room.
Most rooms will require a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting.
Types of Light Fixtures
Light fixtures vary depending on where they’re placed—ceiling, wall, or free-standing. The aisles of a big box hardware store lighting department can be a bit overwhelming. It helps to understand types of light fixtures, such as:
- Pendant lights hang from the ceiling. They light a particular area. They fall into the category of task lighting.
- Chandeliers, on the other hand, are pendant lights, but they light the entire room, so they’re also ambient light fixtures.
- Flush-mounted lights attach to the ceiling and don’t hang down more than a few inches. They light up the entire room or a specified area.
- Sconces go on walls and work like accent lighting for a small area.
- Track lighting works as accent lighting, illuminating a bookcase, a section of wall, or a large work of art.
- Lamps are free-standing and can work as accent lighting or task lighting.
Most people can safely assemble and plug in a lamp. But you shouldn’t attempt to mount some types of lights yourself. Installing recessed lighting, for example, is complicated, involving holes in the ceiling and possibly surprise electrical issues. It doesn’t matter if you live in Michigan or you’re moving to Texas—you shouldn’t attempt to install recessed lights yourself. Hire a licensed local electrician.
Choosing the Right Light Fixtures
Considering scale and style is a top tip for choosing light fixtures for your new home. Is your style modern or traditional? What furnishings will go under your lights? Once you identify your style, choosing a finish (e.g., brushed nickel, brass, bronze, etc.) will come more easily.
An ambient light’s diameter should be the same number in inches as the length and width of the room, added together, are in feet. For example, a 12 by 15 room needs a 27-inch diameter fixture. But if you are placing a fixture over a dining table, measure the length and width of the piece instead of the room.
As you shop for fixtures that express your style and your home’s character, you’ll begin to know what you want when you see it. If you’re perplexed, enlist the help of a professional designer to help you choose.