Light It Up!

Updated: Sep 14, 2019

Ok, count the number of lights in your house. It was more than you thought, right? Now think of trying to plan AHEAD of time where all those lights will go, as well as taking into account the sheer scale (size) of your more focal-point pieces as well as the finishes involved for them all. Having a fixture that is too small or too big for the space can completely throw off the feeling of a room and the wrong finish can throw off the balance of the room too. Yes, really!

At the same time, you also have to think about how the fixtures will look with all your other selections and furniture; it's overall design. It's a lot to handle! I call the light fixtures the jewelry to a good outfit; it can make or break it!


When we help customers on lighting, this effort can take more time than most other selections efforts because of all the "crosschecks" that have to take place. Probably no more than any other, but it feels that way for some reason: design, shape, scale/size, finish, glass type, and bulb/lamp temperature.


My process:

  1. I create a lighting location plan for each area/floor that designates all of the different types and levels of lighting that your home will need.

  2. I then create a schedule for myself that tells me what the scale of the chandeliers, wall sconces, decorative flush mounts, and pendant light fixtures need to be based on their locations.

  3. Then I go out on the hunt for styles that will work. The additional cross-checks include finish of all the other things in the space (plumbing, cabinetry, cabinetry hardware, mirrors, flooring, countertops, etc.) Its a lot!

Helpful Hint: The preliminary lighting location plan serves as a great place to start when you do your electrical walk through with your electrician as well as sitting down with a lighting vendor or designer that is helping you with your fixture selection.

Lighting location plan from electrical walkthrough
Example of a customer lighting location plan

We like to pull as many of the selections together ourselves first and then send them out to be priced by vendors. If we haven't been hired to help with the actual fixture selections, to save time, it's always helpful to team with a vendor partner on this. This is done by sending the vendor the proposed location plan along with any initial design ideas the customer may have provided; this helps with selections ideas as well as pricing.

Claire Brandon at Ferguson is great at this. They help a lot of our builder customers all day/everyday make selections so they are intimately familiar with all the fixture possibilities available.

On our own home, like all the other areas, we are tackling this effort in the most crazy way possible and breaking all the rules that I generally advise people NOT TO DO. We are electing to purchase our lighting from a multitude of sources in order to keep our costs down. Why do we tell people NOT to do this?

  • The liability is much higher for us this way

  • There are likely fewer warranties

  • WAY MORE things CAN go wrong

But since we are managing this process ourselves, we had to take the chance to try to squeeze in as much as we could. That way we are only creating pain and suffering for ourselves. This tripled the effort and I have nearly driven myself mad on this. Here are photos of just six of the 50+ different lights in our home.


**I will say, I thought I was quite skilled at this exercise already, but having to do it this way (shopping everything) has taught me even more about lighting AND has reinforced why this really is not the ideal way to do this if you can avoid it.**


Our Ultimate Decision


In the end, we have carefully placed the "wow" factor fixtures in the places that they will be most appreciated (the first picture in the grid above is going in our foyer) and tried to save money by using more "go-away" task lighting in the spaces that really don't warrant that WOW.


We are going with LED fixtures for longevity in as many places as possible. We have chosen to stay with 2700-3000K light temperature where we can, because we both prefer warmer light (that looks more like what we all know as incandescent). This will blend better with our warmer table lamp bulbs and any other fixtures that might still be incandescent or warmer in light color. The higher the light bulb color temperature the light appears more bluish white/stark. For us, we lean towards warm so we are trying to keep the numbers on the low end where we can. It's all personal preference.

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