Choosing Light Fixtures: A Homeowner's Guide

Light fixtures may seem like a minor detail in your home design, but these small implements can dramatically transform the look of your home. It's important to take your time and put plenty of thought into your home decor light fixture choices. Here are a few pieces of advice to guide you along the way.

1. Always consider the purpose of the lighting.

Light can serve several purposes. Overhead light fixtures create ambient light, which is light that just allows you to see in general. Lights placed over counters or tables are task lights. They are intended to illuminate a specific space so you can see what you are doing more clearly. Then, there are accent lights. These would be lights mounted under a picture or shelf for emphasis or placed to the side of a room to make it look larger. Consider the purpose of the light so you can look for fixtures that satisfy that purpose.

2. Choose the right finish.

If all of the hardware in your kitchen is chrome, you don't want to choose a brass light fixture. Always make sure the finishes of your light fixtures match the finishes elsewhere in your room. You can vary the finishes throughout the home, but only if the finishes vary in elements other than your light fixtures, too.

3. Consider the size.

If you are hanging a light in a large dining room, then you probably want a big light fixture. If you're hanging a light in a small bathroom, then you want something tiny and discreet. While light is essential, you do not want the only thing someone sees when they walk into the room to be your light fixture. Consider the size of any furniture below the light, too. For instance, if you're hanging a light over a large table, you should go with a larger fixture.

4. Think about the throw of the light.

A light fixture that has a big shade over the bulbs is going to send a lot of light downward but not outward. On the contrary, one with several bulbs and no shade is going to spread light. Think about the light quality that would be best for your room, and select a light fixture with a shape that allows for this light quality.

To learn more about the best light fixture choices, talk to an interior designer and look through the options in your local home goods store.