Why Lighting Matters

By Kate Riley March 28, 2013

Whenever I see a well designed space, my eyes are immediately drawn to the lighting choices. No room is complete without good lighting, and a great fixture is always an element I include whenever I’m working on a makeover too. Sometimes I score a chandelier from a discount store or a home improvement store, but I’ve also splurged on good lighting when I find “the one” – my kitchen island pendants and bathroom sconces are the perfect example.

Great lighting is like the jewelry that makes a fabulous outfit. Your lamps, chandeliers, and sconces are an opportunity to set the style of a space, to add a layer of texture (think industrial or woven shades), or to play the role of the unexpected element. Think of crystal chandeliers in a contemporary space, a minimalist modern fixture in a more traditional room, or an industrial cage pendant in a cottage dining room.

shades of light drum pendant


Sconces and chandeliers will live in the space for years and add value to a home. Today, I wanted to give a quick shout out to one of my sponsors Shades of Light. I’ve purchased several pieces from them over the past year and they deserve some thanks for their support of the blog. Shades of Light recently has been featured in the spring color issue of Better Homes & Gardens and they have a variety of fixtures available from the new Young House Love collection under $100 to splurge worthy pieces that will make a statement in any space.  Here are six of my favorites:

lighting choices

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6


How big should your chandelier be?  Here are the formulas:

Width of overhead chandeliers (living rooms, family rooms, bedrooms, home offices): A singular chandelier in a living space needs to be proportionate to the room size. Add the width and length of the room together in feet and convert that figure to inches to come up with the correct width of the chandelier. For example, in a room that measures 10 feet by 13 feet, add 10 + 13 together to get 23 inches in diameter.

Width of dining room chandeliers: The rule of thumb is to choose a chandelier with a diameter equal to one half the width of the table, for example, a 48 inch wide dining table should have a chandelier with a 24 inch diameter. However, many designers choose oversized pendants up to two thirds the width to make a strong style statement in a dining space (I love that look!) and modern rectangular fixtures are very dramatic over a dining room table as well.  Height: When hanging a fixture over a dining table, the bottom of the chandelier should be 30 to 34 inches above the table, low enough to create a focal point in the space, but high enough not to interfere with conversation.

Have you added any new fixtures to your home lately?

What style did you choose?




  1. Oh, my. I have printed several contenders from that company! I just love the Yin/Yang for our back room which is pretty much all glass. And, I found the perfect sconce for my husband’s study. Hammered copper to perfectly compliment an antique copper lamp we use in there. And, I need that industrial cage work light chandelier in the aged iron for our dining room. What fun!

  2. Oh gosh! Hard to pick a style! I find beauty in everything! I would LOVE to know more about that green room though! Where in the world is that space and that color…….!

  3. I just purchased a new chandelier that I LOVE and my husband installed it in our family room as part of our redecoration project. I also changed out the lights on the fireplace. You can see a sneak peek of my new chandy on my blog!

  4. This is soo true! I’m realizing I totally goofed on my pendant lighting over our island in our new house. The scale is all wrong:( because I didn’t grasp just how big the island was. We will have to live with them for a bit. Another decorating lesson learned(the expensive way;).

  5. We’ve been looking at new lighting recently, but we have to stick with picking really great lamps because we’re in a rental and can’t change the fixtures. Besides, we have those in-ceiling lights which cost a fortune to run and look really plain but would be so difficult to remove. When I do finally pick a style, I think it will be along the industrial/rustic lines – it just seems so cosy.

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