Lighting is (clearly) one of the most important parts of any interior design – for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Adequate lighting is essential to getting around the house properly and safely…but you can also use those lighting fixtures to decorate and adorn your home in all sorts of elegant or unusual ways.
This goes for the exterior of the house as much as it does for the interior; from pendant lighting to extravagant chandeliers, or from string lights to floodlights, there are dozens of different ways to illuminate your house and your yard in whatever style or design you prefer.
Here are 12 striking lighting ideas and essential tips to give your home some impressive style and ensure it’s properly lit for everyday style.
We’ll start with the basics: pendant lighting is a fantastic and elegant way to add some light to any room in the house. Place them over the dinner table to draw attention to the center of the room – where it belongs –while making the table a brighter place to be. Place them over the stove or the kitchen island to make cooking and preparing food easier to see. Or, place them over your bed to make the room seem bigger by emphasizing all that air space.
Pendant lighting comes in nearly unlimited styles. If you live in a contemporary home, you can find sleek black or metallic looking lights to match. Industrial chic? There are steel rod and metalwork-style pendant lights for that, too. If you love a rustic, open-air feel, try some wicker lights. Farmhouse kitchen? You have a selection of lights to match!
What exactly does “layered” lighting mean? Layered lighting means putting lights – string lights, lamps, pendant lighting – at varying heights, depths and locations throughout the room, creating both a layered look with the lights themselves, as well as a textured and uneven – but also very interesting – look to the room’s illumination. You can make this work with almost interior design style, but it looks especially good with industrial, ironwork or metallic lighting.
It should go without saying that the size and layout of your home is essential to properly lighting it, but it’s a good idea to keep that in mind when planning out your lighting options. The larger the room, the more lights you will need…and the larger lights you should use. For example, in the dining room or the front entryway, you’ll probably want a larger chandelier in order to properly illuminate the room. A large, bright chandelier also has the added benefit of drawing attention upwards – making the room larger and more impressive.
For the kitchen, you probably want to do something similar – if not quite as large. Stick with pendant lighting, which will light up the room adequately while also giving that larger-than-it-really-is appearance that chandeliers create. You can think of pendant light like task lighting: it lights up your work areas so you can see clearly what you’re working on.
For smaller, tighter rooms – like bathrooms – you can get away with recessed lighting and wall lamps. Bathrooms should have a large, main light source in the middle of the room, complemented by lamps throughout the room.
Task lighting refers to lights placed above places where you carry out tasks requiring adequate lighting and precision – whether that’s chopping vegetables to typing on the computer or carving wood. Swing-arm lamps look great – and function perfectly – over desks and worktables, while perfectly-placed pendant lighting is usually best over the stove or kitchen counter. If your counters have cabinets overhanging, try adding some recessed lighting under the cabinets; this will provide some much needed when cooking, chopping and cleaning.
When outfitting your home with new lighting fixtures, pay attention to the size of these fixtures in relation to the rest of the room. Placing smaller lights strategically can make a room seem larger and more spacious – provided they give off enough light to illuminate for the entire room. Placing a chandelier or pendant lighting in the middle makes the ceiling appear taller, thanks to the elongating appearance of the lamp rods.
Likewise, placing larger lamps on small end tables can make a living room appear smaller, cozier and more comfortable; pair with soft bulbs and lampshades to create place perfect for cozying up and enjoying a good book and warm cup of tea.
When thinking of all these fancy lighting styles and attractive lighting fixtures, it’s easy to forget just how nice it is to make use of all the natural light you have at your disposal. The larger the windows the room, the better; be sure that any drapes don’t cover too much of the window and hide all that natural light. To make the most of natural light, you can place a large mirror on a wall opposite, reflecting as much as possible and making the room seem larger and more open.
String lights have really made a splash in recent years. And yes, despite what some people think – they really are more than just expensive Christmas lights! High-end string lights do a fantastic job of illuminating your patio or backyard when draped elegantly through trees, trellises or posts. They are the perfect way to add some soft, almost ambient lighting that’s just perfect for nights relaxing in the backyard – or for those “wild” backyard parties and barbecues. They work no matter your home’s style.
What better way to make visitors feel welcome than ensuring they have a well-lit path to get to your front door? Path lights are affordable and ridiculously easy solutions to keeping your front sidewalk or yard well-lit, while also doing double duty to make the house look even better come nightfall. They come in almost any style – from imitation tiki torch to classic lamppost looks – and in a number of power options; you can often get battery-powered lights, but most are solar-powered, so there’s no need to worry about charging them or finding a power source when setting them up. Convenient. (Did we mention they tend to be quite affordable, too?)
Lanterns may sound old-fashioned, but is there anything classier than a few gorgeous lanterns lighting up your backyard or the space around your pool? Nope! Electric lanterns come in almost any size you can dream of – even jumbo size! – and give that classic, ironwork appearance that we all just love. For extra soft lighting and a warm feel, you can even place some real, candle-lit lanterns around the back patio set; this will help keep bugs away on summer nights, too.