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Let It Shine: Top Lighting Tips

Lighting is one of the most important features in a home. Besides the obvious purposes of security and enabling you to see, it helps create warmth, mood, drama, and dimension—both in and outside the house—taking a space from ordinary to extraordinary. What’s the best way to achieve a well-lit home? Keep reading for some top tips from area pros.

According to Kathy McDavid, lighting consultant at Lighting Unlimited (, you should aim to have at least three sources of light in family rooms and bedrooms to create a comfortable mood—a goal that “can be achieved with bedside table lamps, a chandelier, and can lighting.”

“Statement lights are great for entryways, dining rooms, or even above a bathtub,”


The color of light (how yellow or blue a bulb appears to be) is measured by kelvins (K), while lumens, on the other hand, measure how bright a bulb is. Jane Reed, designer and co-owner of Brush Strokes Inc. Unique Remodeling and Design  (, recommends “keeping the color of light the same in each room without going higher than 3,000K or investing in smart bulbs, since you can change the color and brightness to suit your mood and experiment with different effects.” Tammi Rollins, designer and owner of Hinge & Stone (, agrees that the bulbs you buy is imperative. “To help avoid glare, ambient lighting in a living room or dining room should be at least 1,500-3,000 lumens, whereas task lighting should be 400 lumens.”

All three designers concur that being able to adjust the brightness in a room by adding a dimmer switch is an easy way to add ambiance and create a mood. Says Reed, “You may need bright lights for a particular task, like cooking, but when that task is finished, you can use a dimmer to make the lighting more subtle.”


“Statement lights are great for entryways, dining rooms, or even above a bathtub,” says McDavid. “There are so many beautiful art-style fixtures—the choices are limitless.” In addition, she says there are no rules saying your cabinet hardware, faucets, and lighting finishes all need to be the same color or material, as “mixed metals are all the rage.”

For an easy update to a bathroom’s aesthetic, replace overhead vanities with sconces. Shares McDavid: “It gives the bathroom a more modern look and brings the light down to illuminate your face, since overhead light creates shadows.” Rollins agrees that adding ample lighting over bathroom mirrors is a quick but effective way to brighten bathrooms.

Another detail to keep in mind is lighting placement.


While good lighting creates depth and height in a home, Rollins says it’s important to choose proper fixtures based on the existing ceiling height. Another detail to keep in mind is lighting placement. “Hanging chandeliers or pendants too low is a big no-no. As a general rule of thumb, they should be six feet from the floor or three feet from the top of the table,” advises Rollins.

When it comes to illuminating a kitchen, Reed suggests task lighting for preparation and cooking (undercounter or hood lights) and a good overall light (canned lights). Open shelves and glass-fronted cabinets should also be lit to highlight anything on display and create impact, while pendants over a counter provide both light and add to the space’s overall aesthetic.

As important as the artificial light you bring into a home is, natural light shouldn’t be overlooked either. Whether it’s through big windows, light-colored window treatments, skylights, or white, bright interior paint, “incorporating natural light helps improve overall mood, health, and well-being,” says Rollins—plus it saves energy!

by Megan Wiskus

Room designed by Lindsay Tate Designs; photo by Nicole Dianne Photo. Top photo courtesy of Brush Strokes Inc. Unique Remodeling and Design. Bottom photo: Room designed by Lindsay Tate Designs; photo by Nicole Dianne Photo.