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The final touch on any home remodel is the lighting fixture types that you choose. Depending on your choice, you can vastly change the feeling of the room. There are more decorative options, like chandeliers, and then there are options you should never really see, like undermount lighting. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right one for the job.
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3 Main Uses of Lighting
Before you can choose the right lighting for an area, you do need to understand the three basic uses of lighting. By understanding these uses of lighting, you can better identify light fixtures for each use.
Task lighting is when you get a light fixture to light up a specific area where a task will be performed. For example, a desk lamp is a task light because it is lit up specifically to light up the desktop so that you can read better.
Another type of task lighting is undercabinet lighting because it is designed specifically to functionally light up the counter so that you can prepare food easier. Of course, in the world of lighting, task lighting doesn’t have to be only functional.
Ambient lighting is the lighting that you use to light up an entire room or area. The recessed lights so common in vaulted living rooms are examples of ambient light. They serve no decorative purpose and they are designed to provide maximum square footage of light.
Accent lighting is used in conjunction with ambient lighting to maybe make a room brighter but also to give accent to specific areas. So, if you have a recessed light that is angled slightly to direct it more at a fireplace, that is more of an ambient light. Or wall sconces that can be lit up to light up a hallway a little bit more is another accent light.
Typically, recessed lighting is used as an ambient lighting option. You can find recessed lighting most commonly in 4” or 6” wide options. However, sometimes you can find 5” options. Older recessed lighting used metal “cans” or boxes to house the electrical wiring and give the decorative ring and light socket something to attach to.
However, newer recessed lighting options require no can and come as a single unit where the electrical house, LED diode, and decorative trim are all integrated into one. You can even get these newer recessed lights in gimbal options now so you can use them as accent lights as well.
Track lighting is becoming slightly less popular now but it definitely has its uses. It is one of the most flexible lighting options because you actually run the power to a track, or monorail, and then attach heads wherever you want.
Depending on the bulbs you choose for this type of lighting, it can be used for any of the three main uses: ambient, accent, or task lighting.
If you get tired of the style of the heads you selected, the beauty of these systems is that you can change them out. As long as you get heads that fit with your rail system, you can change their color, their shape, their size, etc.
The newest kid on the block, and the sexiest, is the linear LED light. Sure, the shop lights in your garage are also linear LED lights. However, these lights are much more than that. They are typically used as either accent or task lighting because they do not do well as ambient light givers.
But you can use a linear LED recessed into the wall as a beautiful light strip to accent the architecture of a room and provide light at the same time. Don’t shy away from using linear LEDs because of their utilitarian uses they are most known for.
Undermount Cabinet Lighting
The most common use of linear LED lighting is as undermount cabinet lighting. This is because they don’t get hot like the old halogen puck lights we knew in the 90s. And linear LEDs are thinner so they are easy to disguise behind the lip of most cabinets.
One of the lesser known uses of linear LEDs is as a wall washer. To do this, you put a bulkhead or valance slightly in front of the wall and then a linear LED light between the bulkhead and the wall. If you aim the light against the wall at a 45° angle, it will give the wall a beautiful, soft glow.
A sconce is a wall mounted, accent light fixture. These fixtures are typically dim enough that they aren’t used as ambient lighting. They have a mainly decorative purpose and can get incredibly complex if desired.
You frequently find sconces in living rooms, stairwells, hallways, and bathrooms. Actually, two wall sconces on either side of the face is considered the best lighting to do makeup. This makes them incredibly prized as bathroom fixtures.
In the grand scheme of things, most of the lighting in a home anymore is a ceiling light fixture. This is one of the most decorative light fixture types that most homes have, though they can be understated and simple if necessary.
Flush mount fixtures are designed to sit directly up to the ceiling and be very low profile. Most are only 6-8” deep so they are perfect for homes with lower ceiling heights. Flush mount fixtures are usually the simplest of the ceiling light fixtures but they can also come in very decorative options and in different shapes as well now.
Ceiling fans are, first and foremost, one of the most functional lighting fixture types. They are meant to move air around the room and most are very understated in their design. But you can also find ceiling fans with very decorative accents now.
The fan can become a part of your overall interior design. From fancy blades to special lighting fixtures, don’t be afraid to include a fan just because it is also utilitarian. You can find fans that fit any interior design style you may choose.
Chandeliers are, of course, the most decorative of any light fixture. We think of them mainly as fixtures that you may find over a dining table. But if your home is large enough, you may have chandeliers in your bedrooms, your dining room, even your closet.
Chandeliers are the most decorative lighting fixture types
When you are choosing a chandelier, you should definitely look at its design elements first. SInce the chandelier is meant as a statement piece, it must fit your overall design style choice.
If you need more or fewer lights than you see in the chandelier you like, ask for an alternative amount of lights. There are almost always 2-3 sizes of chandeliers in a specific style.
Pendant fixtures are used as task lighting and accent lighting over specific areas. In reality, the pendant is just a small chandelier with the only difference being that a pendant typically has only a single bulb. The most common use for this light fixture type is over the kitchen island.
But you can also use a pendant over something like a reading nook so that you have more light to read by. Pendants can even be hung to the side of bathroom mirrors to provide side lighting instead of a wall sconce.
Inverted Pendant Lights
Inverted pendant lights are those that have the bulb on top of the shade. Since pendants usually have their bulbs on the underside, the bulb could be too bright for people sitting beneath the fixture. An inverted pendant is one of the best lighting fixture types for over a dining table because it prevents the blinding bulb effect.
Floor and Table Lamps
Since most people tend to take their lamps with them when they move, the humble lamp is frequently overlooked as a design element. However, this excellent task lighting piece can be an incredibly design element. Just imagine your table lamp as a leg lamp next time you look at it and then disagree.
You can find not only table lamps but also floor lamps in a number of different designs now. Don’t just settle for the boring lamp that you see in everybody’s house. A lamp is one of the best lighting fixture types to put a bit more design flair on your room.
Outdoor lighting is generally a luxury rather than a necessity. But this type of lighting can also give a decorative accent to an area. Of course, not only can outdoor lighting provide this decorative aspect, but it can also serve the vital purpose of making sure that you don’t break your ankle by tripping in the dark.
For best results, choose 3-4 things in your yard to accent with spot lights. Then make sure that any pathways are light up with pathway lighting that points down at them. This will make sure that you can not only walk around your yard in the dark but also see the most beautiful parts of it.
Why do Different Lighting Fixture Types Matter
Lighting fixtures used correctly are usually overlooked because they are taken for granted in the modern world. Only those people with a design eye will notice them for their perfect combination of functional and beautiful. However, a light fixture used incorrectly will stand out horribly.
For example, if you put a ceiling flush mount fixture on the wall, you’re likely to get a few side-eyes from your guests who think you’re a little bit touched in the head. There’s something about light fixtures that they just stick out if they’re used wrong.
Using Lighting Fixture Types in Interior Design
The best part about lighting fixtures is their use in interior design. Lighting is the jewelry of interior design. It certainly cannot take the design alone and make it perfect. However, the perfect design definitely requires the perfect lighting fixture type to go with it.
There is a place for every type of light fixture. Ultimately, most homes have a combination of lighting fixtures used in all three major use areas. Lighting is a laying effort to make the perfect home. Not only can lighting work by keeping a space well lit but the design of a light fixture can make your interior design absolute perfection.