Lighting 101: Part One- Light Fixtures

Fancy, schmancy bedroom chandelier from West Elm.

Lighting is one of the most effective upgrades in your home that can also improve your daily life. It’s often an ignored subject! This blog will focus on re-dreaming the fixtures in your home (or in the home you’re considering buying). Part two of this blog will focus on lightbulbs. Who knew they deserved their own blog post?!? Trust me, they do.

I have owned two homes in the last 6 years and have changed light fixtures in those homes a total of 10 times. I have only regretted one of the installations and had it changed a year later. Every time a fixture is updated, it completely changes the entire look and feel of the space. It’s an automatic update in an outdated room. If you are looking for a quick update ahead of listing your home, I would highly recommend changing the lighting. There are plenty of affordable approaches to this. The logistics of installing a light fixture can be done on your own if you are very careful and have researched ahead of jumping right in for the first time. If you’re not comfortable with electrical work, please hire an electrician.


The very first thing we did when we moved into our new home was to swap out the kitchen cabinet pulls and updated every light fixture on the main floor. We chose a combination of fixtures with black and brushed gold details. Three of the fixtures on our main floor are opaque glass and the dining room light has fully exposed bulbs. I wanted variety but also was seeking cohesion. We kept most of the fixtures simple and went for a big design pop in the dining room with the chandelier.

After a year of living in our home we discovered our main floor just didn’t bring in enough light and my husband decided adding recessed lights to the living room would solve our problem. The attic is directly above our living room so it turned out to be a surprisingly easy DIY project for my handy honey. Recessed lighting is a creative solution to a practical problem. Changing the other lighting was a way of updating the space to our younger eye for desing.

As far as how to choose what type of light fixture to install, there are a few different kinds to keep in mind:

It is good to consider the room and the height of the fixture. Often, it is advisable to have a chandelier or pendant above a dining room table. A flush or semi-flush light for your entry way if your ceiling is low, but if you have an open entry, a chandelier would fill the space much better. Track lighting can sometimes work well in a kitchen. Some people like ceiling fans in their bedrooms or living room, some people don’t like ceiling fans at all.

Under cabinet task lighting in a kitchen is wonderful. I never had this until we moved in two years ago and I will never go back. It makes any cooking project more manageable and really brightens up a dull kitchen.

This next part is where your vision and creativity come into play. Stand in the room (whether it’s in your home or at a house showing) and try to imagine what it would look like without the current light fixture. Then, think about what type of lighting would suit your needs best and what general size would work. Then it’s time to start browsing fixtures online or in store if you prefer. My favorite places to dream about lighting are Etsy (Olde Brick Lighting shop), IKEA, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Rejuvenation.

The light fixture in the baking nook beside my kitchen. OBSESSED. Photo credit to OldeBrickLighting shop on Etsy.

I am more than happy to share where all the specific lighting in my home was bought, just ask in the comments below! Happy daydreaming!

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