How to Choose Ceiling Lights

There’s one thing that is true for almost EVERY room. Unless you have floor to ceiling windows, your room needs many light. Ceiling fixtures should be one of the main sources of light in your room along with lamps and sconces.

Light fixtures in your home decor are just like jewelry for an outfit. A great light fixture can really add that extra wow to your room. This ceiling fan is the “wow” in my living room unfortunately. I’ve been looking for a replacement for two years. If your light is more of a ho hum than a wow, get some tips for finding your wow ceiling light.

big brown fan light

Choosing a flush mount or semi-flush mount light fixture is hard when there are so many choices. I hope these tips will help you narrow those choices and get that light that makes your room twinkle a little more.

Tip 1 – scale matters

Consider the size of the room before you choose a fixture. If you have a large room, you’ll want a fixture that is larger, gives off more light and holds more bulbs.

Measure the length and width of your room. If your room is 10 feet x 10 feet you should look for a fixture that is 20 inches wide. To find the right size, add the feet together and convert that into inches. Ten plus ten equals twenty. Get a 20 inch wide fixture (or something close).

Tip 2 – Consider ceiling height

If you have ceilings that are eight feet tall, you’ll need a different fixture than if you have twelve foot ceilings. Like every other decorating rule, there’s a measurement for the ideal height of a ceiling light. Get a fixture that is 2.5-3inches high for every foot of room height. Is that confusing?

A room with an eight foot ceiling needs a light that hangs down 20 to 24 inches from the ceiling. You don’t want people to feel like they have to duck if the light hangs down too low. For ten foot ceilings you can use a fixture that hangs down 25 to 30 inches. Twelve foot ceilings can hold something that is 30-36 inches from the ceiling.

Tip 3 – Add Ceiling Lights Even if There’s NO Wiring

If you live in a rental home or apartment, that doesn’t mean you can’t add lights to your ceiling. All you need is a hook and a plug. It might be hard to hang something in the middle of a large room, but there’s still plenty of places you can put a ceiling light.

My pro tip is that you can turn any hard wired light fixture into a plug-in fixture with a simple conversion kit. You can see detailed instructions in this post.

Here are some of my favorite swag or plug-in ceiling lights.

I use affiliate links so I can afford to keep doing this.  Hope it saves you time. See my disclosure policy.

Tip 4 – More Lighting is Almost Always Better

Have you ever gone into a house that’s for sale and every light is on? There’s a reason realtors do that. Most houses look too dark.

Every room needs three sources of light (not including natural light). The ceiling is usually the place where most of the light comes from so don’t overlook it. It can be an investment, but it IS something you can take with you if you keep the old fixtures and put them back up.

In addition to ceiling lights, your room needs lamps, floor lamps and sconces. Floor lamps are the next largest source of light. Click to read more about why every room needs a floor lamp and where to find them.

Tip 5 – Use a complementary metal

You might not like the look of a ceiling fixture if it’s different than everything else in your home. Take a look at your curtain rods, knobs, plumbing fixtures, etc. If you are comfortable mixing metals go ahead, but lighting is a big investment so be sure.

In my house, most of the metal is brushed nickel, which isn’t my first choice. I’ve added some black light fixtures, which complements the brushed nickel.

Go to Sources For Lighting

My favorite place to shop for lighting is Rejuvenation (this is a new phase for me). I also like Shades of Light, Wayfair, Schoolhouse (expensive but awesome), Anthropologie and West Elm. Here are some of my favorite ceiling fixtures. Many come in different finishes.

You can almost always find many of these on sale if you can wait for the next holiday to order.

Try adding or replacing the lights in your ceiling and see what a difference it makes to your home’s style.

Before you go, you might like how to choose the right size chandelier for your room and how to choose and indoor ceiling fan.

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  1. What a great and helpful post Andrea! I love all the options you shared with everyone as well.

  2. I love all these ideas, Andrea! You’ve really shared some great tips for choosing lighting too.

    1. Thanks Anne! It’s a nuts and bolts kind of post, but I was trying to figure out what size fixture to buy myself.

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