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Nebraska Furniture Mart | December 13, 2018

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How to Choose the Perfect Lighting

How to Choose the Perfect Lighting
Kayla Morland

Lighting may be one of the most underrated elements of your home, but it’s also one of the most important.  How else can you cook that extravagant holiday dinner or read that book you’ve been meaning to get to all year with the shorter daylight hours?

Whether you read that book on Hygge and are trying to make your home a more cozy place or you’re ready for a home refresh before the new year – here’s your beginner’s guide to lighting.

First, you need to decide what kind of lighting you need.  Start by asking, what purpose will the light serve?

To help guide you to the answer, there are 3 main types of lighting:

  1. Ambient lighting: This is the main source of lighting for your home that allows you to see everything around you, not only so you can enjoy the home you work so hard on, but also so you can walk around safely!

Best lighting fixtures to use: chandeliers, ceiling and/or wall mounted fixtures, and recessed track lighting.

2. Task lighting: As the name suggests, this lighting will help you better accomplish specific tasks such as cooking, homework, reading, etc.  You will want to look for lighting that gives off enough light for the task so you don’t have to strain your eyes and that will also give you a glare and shadow free experience.

Best lighting fixtures to use: undercabinet lighting, pendant lighting, floor lamps, and desk lamps.

3. Accent lighting: When you really want to highlight a feature, use accent lighting.  This lighting can help bring focus and attention to paintings, sculptures, plants, outdoor landscaping, etc.  A general rule of thumb for accent lighting is that it should be at least 3 times brighter than the surrounding ambient light.

Best lighting fixtures to use: wall mounted lighting, recessed lighting, and track lighting

After you’ve decided what kinds of lighting you need (remember layering different lighting is key to good home design!) consider where you will be placing it so you know how much space you’ll need for the fixture, how much light you will need and how cool/warm you’d like it, and finally what type of fixture you want to illuminate your home.

While we can’t tell you how much space you have or what your preference is on how much lighting you’d like, we can help you discern the different types of fixtures so you can choose the best one(s) that fit your lifestyle.

Here are the basic differences between some of the most popular lighting fixtures that we carry:

Floor Lamps

Torchiere: These lamps feature shades that face upwards almost like a torch would, making them great for ambient or accent lighting.  Some lamps may be accompanied by a reading lamp connected on the side so you can have a task light for reading.

Arc:  The arc, or Arco, lamp was designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962, making this lamp a piece that’s genuinely Mid-Century Modern in style.  It features a sturdy base and large, dramatic arched shaft with a light at the end providing overhead lighting with poise.  This would provide ambient or task lighting and looks remarkable in a living room.

Table: Do you need a lamp but don’t have a lot of space to work with?  Then a floor lamp with a table built-in may be the best choice.  The tables come in an array of shapes and sizes and some even have multiple shelves for the ultimate functional ambient lighting and storage solution.

Table Lamps

Tiffany-style: Around 1895, Tiffany Studios designed lamps with stained glass shades. Unless they were made by Tiffany Studios, then they are generally considered to be Tiffany-style, but they will provide you with accent or task lighting just the same.

Desk:  Desk lamps are designed specifically to provide task lighting, but could also provide accent lighting or possibly ambient lighting.  They are normally characterized by their angular shape consisting of struts and joints so you can adjust the lamp to fit your work, just as you would your desk or office chair.

Buffet: These lamps are taller and usually thinner than other table lamps as they are meant to take up minimal space while also providing plenty of accent or task lighting.  You will often see them in pairs with one on each end of sideboards or console table, although, if you like the look, you can certainly use one on its own and in any space.

Torchiere:  Just like the floor lamp variation, these lamps feature an upward facing shade for ambient or accent lighting.  Also like their floor lamp counterparts, they may also have a reading lamp attached so you can also have task lighting as needed.

Piano and Banker: Very similar in design, these 2 types feature horizontally long shades and are generally adjustable.  Of course, the banker version are those with the slightly larger and certainly more iconic green shades and brass bases, although they don’t have to be in this finish to qualify.  Piano lamps tend to be a little more sleek and slim.  These are made to be task lighting, but could certainly provide accent lighting as well.

Ceiling Lights

Chandeliers: The most decorative of all the ceiling lights, a chandelier is a hanging light with branches that hold several lights.  They can range from the luxurious, ornate crystalline fixtures that you may see hanging above a ballroom to something more simple and modern and provide plenty of ambient lighting.

Pendant: Like a pendant on a necklace, as its namesake suggests, this is a single light that is suspended from the ceiling using a chain or rod.  Mount above a room such as the living room or dining room for ambient light, or use above a desk or reading area for task lighting that doesn’t take up any extra floor or table space.

Flush and Semi-Flush:  Flush lighting fixtures are typically dome shaped and mounted to be completely even with the ceiling, so all of the light will filter through the shade.  Its more decorative sibling, semi-flush lighting, hang down just a touch from the ceiling, allowing for more elaborate designs.  Both of these types will add ambient lighting to your home.

Track Lighting: Looking for a light fixtures with multiple lights, but with more function than a chandelier? Take a look at track lighting, which are long fixtures with multiple adjustable lights that sit on a track.  There are also some standalone fixtures that mimic this design.  Track lighting is a great option for ambient and task lighting in your kitchen, bathrooms, or hallways.

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