You Light up My Life: From Lamps to Fixtures

I am of the philosophy that a light fixture can make or break a room.  Think about television, movies, theatre and dance.  The lighting can change the entire feel of a scene right?  The same is true of the lighting in a room.  With light fixtures for a room though, they need to do more than just play with light.  There is the functional role of lighting up the space.  There is the aesthetic aspect of how the fixture or lamp looks in the room.  And, there are all those secondary aspects of lighting that matter, from efficiency in terms of the bulb to how the light is turned on or off, dimmed, automatic, plugged in or hard wired.

Here are my top 5 things to consider when choosing a light fixture or lamp.

Design by Victoria Elizabeth Design.  Reading Room Lounge Floor Lamp from George Kovacs
Design by Victoria Elizabeth Design. Reading Room Lounge Floor Lamp from George Kovacs

1 – Function

The most important thing is to first consider the function of this light or lamp.  Are you lighting an entire dim room?  Are you adding spotlights to highlight an area of the room?  Are you looking for a lamp that will cast light just on the person sitting or lying near it (as for a bedside table)? For example, right now I am looking for a few different types of lights.  I would like to find lamps that work well as bedside table so one person can be asleep and another can read without casting too much light around the room.  I would like to find a good light fixture that is at one end of our hallway but that can light up the entire hallway.  Lastly, I would like a light that is perfect over our dining room table that doesn’t cast too much light in the eyes of diners, looks fabulous and lights up the room in the evening.

Design by Victoria Elizabeth Design.
Design by Victoria Elizabeth Design.

2- Scale
Scale is so important, but not always easy to figure out.  You don’t want a light fixture that disappears into a space, unnoticed but you also don’t want a fixture that is way too big for the space and seems to invade the room.  For each fixture I try to look at as many designs and photos online as I can to get a sense of what size light will fit in my space.

This design from Beckwith Interiors shows both a "show piece" light fixture and then some functional recessed lights. Designer: Samantha Culbreath Photographer: Chip Pankey
This design from Beckwith Interiors shows both a “show piece” light fixture and then some functional recessed lights. Designer: Samantha Culbreath Photographer: Chip Pankey

3- Type of Light

The light you put in will usually serve one of these three roles: general lighting, task lighting, or accent lighting.

General lighting will light an entire room.  Task lighting adds focused light to a specific area for example on a kitchen counter for kitchen prep or a certain chair for reading.   Accent lighting will create a mood by adding light or highlighting features in a room, but doesn’t really serve as a primary source of light.

In addition to these types of lighting you want to consider what kinds of bulbs you want to use.  This matters because the type of light they create varies, as does how frequently you need to change the bulb and/or how energy efficient the light is.

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4- Switch & Wiring

The first thing to consider here is do you want the lighting to be hard-wired or are you replacing a fixtures that is hard-wired.  Then you will have an electrician in to help with the instillation.  Or, do you have a space that a light that can be plugged in will work better.  In a small bedroom you might need small night stands so a hardwired light will free up some of your night stand surface.  You may want to hang a pendant light but don’t want to hard wire it in the room, so you will need to look for a light with a long chord that can be hooked up on the ceiling.  Lastly, where the switch is matters.  Do you want to be able to tap on a lamp with your foot and turn it on or off?  Do you want to have the switch on the lamp itself and not on the cord?

5- Longevity

Unlike linens and throw pillows you are not likely to switch your lighting on a whim to go with the seasons or the latest style.  You have two choices here.  The first is to get something classic that you know will be timeless and suit the room regardless of trends.  The second, is to just find something you love that you will love for years to come regardless of trends.

Since I’m looking for night stand lighting/ bedtime reading lights here are a few that I am considering.

What I like about the George Kovacs Reading Room Swing Arm Wall Sconce is that they plug in so you do not need to call the electrician to install them.  The look is fairly classic and the finish is somewhat neutral.  I like the clean lines and the size of the lamp.  Since our room is already blue, I'm not sure if I want an all silver light as that may be a bit cool for our space.
What I like about the George Kovacs Reading Room Swing Arm Wall Sconce is that they plug in so you do not need to call the electrician to install them. The look is fairly classic and the finish is somewhat neutral. I like the clean lines and the size of the lamp. Since our room is already blue, I’m not sure if I want an all silver light as that may be a bit cool for our space.
I love the look of this one, and since our entire room is not Mid-century modern (which my husband is not a huge fan of) I think these can work.  I love the warmth of the wood and the sleek design especially since our room is quite small. The Cerno Levo 1 Light is an LED light, so it won't need a new bulb too often.  This sconce can either be hard wired or plug in.
I love the look of this one, and since our entire room is not Mid-century modern (which my husband is not a huge fan of) I think these can work. I love the warmth of the wood and the sleek design especially since our room is quite small. The Cerno Levo 1 Light is an LED light, so it won’t need a new bulb too often. This sconce can either be hard wired or plug in.
If I really can't decide on what lighting I want until I get a new bed and night stand (see that slippery slope) then I think these could work perfectly as a temporary inexpensive solution.  These All the Rages Mini Touch Table Lamps have four settings so I can control the light.  They are small and they are inexpensive.
If I really can’t decide on what lighting I want until I get a new bed and night stand (see that slippery slope) then I think these could work perfectly as a temporary inexpensive solution. These All the Rages Mini Touch Table Lamps have four settings so I can control the light. They are small and they are inexpensive.

This is a post sponsored by Wayfair.com where I am in fact currently shopping for bedside table lamps as well as rugs for the playroom.  As always, all opinions are my own and I have a lot of them, which is perhaps why it is taking me so long to choose which ones I like.  Thank goodness for filters.

If you need a little help choosing a light fixture or lamp for your home, I hope keeping these 5 tips in mind will get you started.  I can’t help you decide which ones you like best and I can’t help you convince your significant other to love it too.  What I can do is lighten the load on your wallet a bit. Wayfair is offering 15% off all lamps starting November 6th, 2014 and ending November 10th, 2014.  The code is: WFLAMPS15.  Happy shopping!

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