How to Pick the Right Light

Updated: Sep 15, 2018

Dear Daniel,

I hate dark rooms, but am overwhelmed by my lighting options. When do I pick a ceiling light vs a wall light vs a floor light?

Sincerely, I Wanna Be Lit

Dear Lit,

I also like bright rooms, especially when that light comes from windows. However, living in the Pacific Northwest as I am right now, I know all about days when natural light is scarce.

My preference is that light in any room would come from multiple sources at multiple levels. The wrong overhead lighting can be terrible. If you put can lights or flush mount lights over a sofa, it will cast shadows and always make your guests look sick!

If you don't have room to have end tables on either side of your sofa with table lamps, then I would recommend a small sofa back table with a lamp on either side. The right sofa back table can be just as easy to set a drink on as a side table. This would allow for swing-arm lamps on either side of the sofa that take up much less space, but will provide perfectly directed reading light. This is also a much more elegant composition than the standard end tables. I find sofa back tables to be terribly underrated.

Five or ten years ago, overscalled lighting was very popular, but now light fixtures are slimming down and becoming more invisible.

Rooms should never be lit from overhead lighting alone. You can never go wrong with multiple sources and multiple ways to direct and combine your lighting. And by the way, clients are always concerned about having the same finish everywhere. But what I find is much more important is that the attitude of the fixtures match. If you find a fixture with a perfect attitude, then a discrepancy in finishes may not be that important.

Go on, get lit!

Sincerely, Daniel

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