Lighting can be one of the toughest things to replace. There are so many options that it’s hard to know what size and style to choose. I have been agonizing over which lights fixtures to buy for two years. I needed an easier way to find lights that fit my style.
I hate the lighting that came with this house. It’s a beautiful old home, but there was a generic fan with light from Home Depot in every room, except the dining room (but it wasn’t much better). I wanted lighting that would add more flair to my rooms.
Do you have a hard time choosing new light fixtures? It’s a high ticket item and that’s why you need a method to find a light fixture that complements your design style. Complementing isn’t really enough. You want lights that add some wow and enhance your rooms.
Follow these steps to quickly narrow down the infinite number of options. I promise you will love how the right lights can really change a room.
Step 1 – define your design style in one word
This one word step will narrow your shopping options. Is your style farmhouse, glam, coastal, industrial, boho, minimalist, modern, rustic, traditional or something else?
If you need help determining your design style, take a look at this post. If you don’t know your style you can choose a one word style from any catalog that you really like. Use the catalog you find yourself leafing through every time it comes in the mail even if you don’t need anything. Look at the adjectives they use when they are describing an item you LOVE.
The one word I used for my lighting was vintage, it’s a descriptive adjective. Vintage isn’t really a design style, but it evokes a certain look I like.
Step 2 – Determine the Type of Fixture fits your space
They type of fixture in your room right now is probably a good indicator of what you need. I say that because it’s not always true. For example, in my kitchen there’s a pendant type light where I think there should be a lower chandelier. Most of the time if there is a flush mount light, that’s what you should look for.
Here are the options: pendant (single hanging light), flush mount (attached to the ceiling), semi-flush mount (a few inches below the ceiling) or chandelier (hanging fixture).
You might need more than one light fixture for your space. The type of light and the number of fixtures you need depends on the size of the room and the ceiling height (see step 3).
Step 3 – Determine the Size Fixture You Need
The size light fixture you need depends on the size of your room. The larger the room, the larger the fixture it nees. A larger room might also work with more fixtures.
Measure the length and width of your room. Add the feet together and that’s how large of a fixture you should aim for. A 14×16 foot room would look best with a 30 inch fixture.
If you are looking for fixtures that hangs over a piece of furniture, like an island or a table the rules are slightly different. Read this if you want all the details about how to get the right sized chandelier for over your table.
Step 4 – Determine the Finish you want
Look around your house at the metals you already have. What are the curtain rods made of? What metal are the faucets and door handles? Are they bronze, brass, black, satin nickel?
If you see a common theme, then that’s probably the metal you should go with. If you want to make a change, you absolutely can (see mixed metals). Otherwise, find a light fixture that complements the metals already in your home.
Mixed Metals – If you don’t like the metal that’s already in your home, you don’t have to change everything. My house has lots of satin nickel, but I’ve added black fixtures. Mixed metals are popular. If it doesn’t bother you, then mix away.
Step 5 – Use Information Gathered to shop with focus
This is the secret formula to raise up your lighting game. You’ve narrowed down what you really want which makes shopping much faster. You can go to any web site where you like to buy lighting and do a very narrow search. Or you can even just combine your terms from above and search right on google (if you don’t have go-to lighting sources).
My search was “vintage, black, pendant light”. You might want to buy a mid-century modern, flush mount, brass light. When you search for this very specific term you get fewer results and it makes the shopping less overwhelming.
Here are some examples. The first one is my narrow search for brass mid-century modern pendant light on Amazon.
Here’s another example of this search in Shades of Light (one of my favorite lighting sources). The search was coastal black chandelier. I think they really fit the fixtures to my search criteria.
You can search any site where you like to find lighting. My favorite sources for lighting are Amazon, Shades of Light, Lamps Plus and Wayfair.
It’s time to step up your lighting
Now it’s your turn. Choose a light fixture in your home that you’ve always disliked (or hated). Follow the four steps to narrow your search and buy something new. Once it’s hung you will see what a huge different a light can make.
If you need help installing your light, here are my tips for finding a good handyman.