Archive for the ‘Bright Ideas in Home Lighting’ Category

Minka Aire Kewl Ceiling Fan $99

Minka Aire Kewl Ceiling Fan $99

Just like with the purchase of a car – you do get what you pay for when you choose a ceiling fan.

The Porsches of ceiling fans are made of high quality materials and have strong precision motors that can move some air without noise and wobbles.
So, How do you determine which fan is better than the other?

Here are five things to look when choosing a ceiling fan:

Motor size

Blade pitch
Blade size
Ceiling Height

The airflow of a ceiling fan is measured in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute)
More is Better.
It is more important to buy a fan with higher CFMs than it is to buy a fan that uses less electricity, since it moves more air and cools you down more, allowing you to set the thermostat higher.
For average size rooms, we like to see ceiling fans that move at least 6000 CFM.
Larger rooms need more (or multiple fans.)
Smaller rooms can get away with less.

Motor Size
Choosing  a high-quality motor will eliminate the noise, wobbling, and shaking found in lower-end ceiling fans.
Motor sizes are identified by the diameter and the height of the motor. The measurements range from 153 x 10 millimeters up to 212 x 25mm. Bigger is better.

Blade Pitch
Cheap fans generally have fan blades that have a low pitch, since the motor can’t handle more.
A higher blade pitch (13 – 15) degrees will generally move more air, but the pitch of the blade and the power of the motor must fit together so the motor won’t burn out or the fan won’t be wobbly or  noisy.
Be careful of judging the quality of the fan based on blade pitch alone.
It is all about the ideal combination of motor size and blade pitch.

Blade Size
Small Room ( up to 75 sq. ft.) = 36″ diameter fan

b. Small/Medium Room (76-144 sq. ft.) = 42″-50″ diameter fan

c. Medium Room (144-225 sq. ft.) = 52″-54″ diameter fan

d. Large Room (225-400 sq. ft.) = 54″-72″ diameter fan

e. Great Room (400+ sq. ft.) = more than one 54″-72″ diameter fan

Ceiling Height

How High do I hang my Ceiling Fan?

How High do I hang my Ceiling Fan?



Factoid: Ceiling fans do not change the room temperature. They simply create a wind-chill effect that makes you feel pleasantly cool.
So, leaving the fan on when you leave will not cool the room.  Just like leaving the lights on will not make the room brighter.




Reading in Bed

Bedroom Light, via Alvhem

Just spent a couple of inspiring minutes (well, let’s say hours) on Pinterest. I love browsing home interiors and get ideas.
I’m also pinnng to our Form + Function boards. One is “Bedrooms”.

Being a lighting person – AND an avid reader, I cringe whenever I see a bedroom without proper bedside reading lamps.

I can’t sleep without reading first, on travel as well as at home, and my husband is the same way.
At hotels we both hold our breaths until we have checked if there are decent reading lamps, and that they actually work.
The bedroom above is lovely, but I definitely know which side of the bed I’d choose! For the naked bulb in the corner? Who gets up to turn it off? (Where is the switch?)



Hudson Valley Lighting Haverhill Pendant

Scenario: Brand new kitchen.

You chose the most beautiful counter top or island surface with lots of color and drama. You spent more on it than you spent on your first car. It is a dream.
So of course it would be a crying shame, if you could only fully enjoy the beautiful colors and feel of the exquisite materials during the daytime.

So, now the question is: How to light your kitchen surfaces.
For the work areas undercabinet lighting is a great way to light the counters. Pendant lights over the island add the light that is needed for food prep and meals.
Pendants add a atmosphere in comparison to using just recessed lights, and in rooms with high ceilings they bring the light down to a level where it is needed as task lighting.

Please note: You can find all the fixtures you need at Form + Function.

LBL Bonn Pendant-


If you are using good old Edison bulbs in the fixtures over your counter they have a warm tone of light (2700K, as in Kelvin, to be nerdy) that works well with warm colors. This type of light and this color temperature (the 2700K) is what we are all really familiar with. It has a warm tone, makes its surroundings look cozy, inviting, just like candlelight.
Incandescent lighting might, however, not quite have the punch to bring out the colors and pizzazz in your materials.

LBL Volo Pendant -

Halogen provides excellent task lighting and really brings out the sparkle in  granite and many other unique stone surfaces. The clean, white light offers illumination that just can’t be beat by incandescent or fluorescent lamps.
The drawback of halogen under cabinet lighting is the heat it produces. It might actually make the surfaces warm to the touch, not ideal for cooking and entertaining on a hot summer day and therefore most likely will increase the cooling cost.

Fluorescent under cabinet lights have a bad rep.
Most of us still remember the cheap garage lights that flickered and hummed, and made us look sickly.
If you haven’t changed out your fluorescent lights since those old days you are in for a surprise.
Recent advances in the technology of fluorescent lights have made this an excellent option.
The color temperature ranges have improved and so has the CRI (Color rendering index), which measures the the ability of a light source to reproduce colors.
What I like about fluorescent lighting is the even distribution of the light without hot spots. They don’t give off much heat and are energy-efficient.
I am, however, worried about the recycling aspect and the mercury they contain.
Fluorescent under cabinet lights can generally not be dimmed. I don’t see this as a huge turn-off. I’d just get the wattage needed for the workspace based on the distance from the bottom of the cabinet to the work surface and not worry about using them as mood lights. But that’s just me.

Xenon lights are very similar to halogen lights. They do not give off quite as much heat as halogen  but on the other hand they don’t provide quite as bright a light.
Xenon is a a good choice if you are not after the extra sparkle that halogen produces and don’t want the heat produced by halogen..
Another advantage is its longer lifespan. The average Xenon bulbs last 2-1/2 times longer than their halogen counterparts.
One last selling point for Xenon: Xenon bulbs do not require that special handling you are asked to use when you deal with halogen bulbs. It is sometimes tough enough to exchange those tiny bulbs. Now holding onto them with a tissue while contorting yourself under the cabinet light adds to the excitement. We have seen grown men cry!
Xenon bulbs are not this sensitive. You can eliminate that one obstacle from the procedure and just hold them with your bare hands. Yeah.
But, then there’s the sparkle……    Guess, you can’t have it all.

Cool, long lasting, super energy efficient. What is there not to love about LED?
When LED lighting was first introduced into the residential market cove and under cabinet lighting were some of the first applications it was used for.
Well, LED was obviously not where it is now, and the light output was not quite strong enough for other uses in the home. This has of course changed a lot just over the last few years.
LED has so much to offer. The main advantage is the incredible savings in energy and the long life of LED.
Unfortunately many manufacturers jumped on the LED bandwagon without going all the way with their design. A lot of inferior products have hit the market and we now see a lot of LED under cabinet lights with horrible color reproduction, hot spots where you see the reflection of the individual diodes on you counter top, multiple surface shadows, you name it.

But, there are also excellent choices out there like the Tech Lighting Illume. They are expensive, but worth every penny in the long run.

lease note: You can find all the fixtures you need at Form + Function.


Your front entry is your chance for that great first impression.
Check out our tips, guidelines and ideas for your outdoor lighting design.

Most guests visit your home at night, so your entryway lighting is crucial for setting the mood and make an inviting entry.
Welcome guests to your home with the warm glow of outdoor lighting.

Contact us with your questions. We’d love to help you!

Garage Lights create a safe entry. Via CG&S Design Build

Outdoor lighting has a dual purpose: You want to create a welcoming entrance to your home as well as be able to walk safely up the steps and from the inside clearly identify who’s coming to visit.
Your front door is usually what most guests approach (Or so they say. For some reason all our guests find the kitchen door first – and then never leave the kitchen!)
So, theoretically at least, the front entrance door is THE place to choose to make a statement!

Lighting is one very important way to create a great first impression. 
A pair of wall sconces or lanterns flanking the entryway can complete the look you want, whether it’s grandiose, contemporary, rustic or artistic.

Safety is of course also an issue and the right lighting is key to reducing trip hazards around your home.
Wall lanterns create a warm welcome  and are very important for that exact reason. Aside from that they are primarily  supposed to be decorative.
Combine them with landscape, step  and path lights for ideal illumination.

A third, maybe unexpected,  benefit from outdoor lighting is the illumination it creates outside the windows. Keep the windows from becoming “black holes” when viewed from inside. Instead it visually extends the living areas to the outside.

The Troy Lighting Cameron outdoor light has a striking architectural design


Lighting the secondary entrances to your home, like patio and kitchen doors, follow the same requirements as the front door, but there the focus might be primarily on safety paired with a comfortable patio light for outdoor entertaining.
I’m not saying that you can ignore aesthetics and go ahead and install some of those glary security lights that will illuminate your neighbor’s back yard as well as yours. That is Light Pollution! (More about that later.)

Troy Lighting Old Town Outdoor Light

Choose lights that meet your needs for illumination as well as atmosphere and fit the style of your home.
You’ll find styles from sleek, minimal architectural fixtures to traditional lanterns or Craftsman style lights in all price ranges. The choice is yours!


Troy Lighting Dayton Wall Light

Troy Lighting Dayton Wall Light features an LED light for energy efficiency


Wall lights, lanterns, ceiling lights or pendants?
Depending on the architecture of your home it might be possible to use wall sconces or lanterns flanking the doorway or lights mounted to or recessed into the ceiling – or a combination of both.

With some minimal, clean, contemporary home designs it might be tempting to choose only recessed overhead lights. But keep the “flashlight-under-the-chin” effect in mind: Illumination directly from above is almost as ghastly as from below – and it can be almost impossible to see the facial features of a visitor with this choice of lighting.

If this is still the lighting of choice, consider combining it with indirect illumination of landscape features or architectural details nearby.


The Aspen collection of outdoor lights by Troy Lighting includes wall sconces, pendants and post lights.

The same principle goes for the must-have decorative fixture that looks wonderful at the front door, but does not shed sufficient light. It just needs a little help and can work well if you augment it with other less visible light sources.
One of the most important considerations when choosing wall sconces to flank a doorway is size and proportions.


Size matters!
In our experience most home owners tend to choose entry lights that are too small for the scale of the door and the wall they are attached to.
With larger homes and taller ceilings, be bold!

As for size: look at the proportions of your front entryway.
Those Jelly-jar wall lights we all know all too well might look out of place next to the door in your new home, even if your parents also had them “and they worked just fine.”
By the same token, no matter how much you admire those wrought iron lanterns that would be suited for a grand entrance they might very well seem overwhelming flanking your cottage door.
The wall fixtures should be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 the height of the door.

If you are using two sizes of sconces for your front door as well as your garage you’ll want to use the larger sconces at the front door, since this is where you want to create the focal point.   The smaller sconces that flank the garage door shouldn’t draw too much attention to this less attractive area of your home.

As a rule of thumb, outdoor sconces or lanterns should be mounted with the center of the light source about 5’6″ to 6′ from the ground and 8’ – 10’ apart.


Troy Lighting Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain from Troy Lighting is inspired by the rugged slopes of the Colorado Rockies

Patio Lighting creates a mood for relaxing and entertaining.

Our decks and patios have become important extensions of our living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms.
As we add state-of-the-art barbecues, outdoor kitchens, comfortable dining areas we want to add the comforts and feel of home we have become used to indoors.
Whether enjoying a romantic al fresco meal for two or entertaining a crowd, we want to see the food on our plate, look good, maybe feel romantic and also be able to move around without danger of tripping.


The Access Lighting Ariel Outdoor Light puts the light exactly where it is needed

Create a safe environment with atmosphere.
One tip is to avoid glare and use as much indirect light as possible.
Inconspicuous step lights and small light fixtures positioned under a railing or a banister can help you put the light exactly where it is needed to safely negotiate stairs and dark areas on the patio.
Try to avoid the “runway-effect” of light sources lined up in a straight row unless. The trick is to illuminate an area without the light sources being the center of attention.


Patio lights don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. Try a combination of wall sconces next to the entryway, some lights for areas that need special attention like changes in terrain and compliment these with twinkling strands of lights in nearby trees or indirect light sources that add atmosphere by accenting architectural features or parts of the surrounding landscape.

Patio String Lights


A little light goes a long way outdoors. 25W or 40W are sufficient in most exterior fixtures. In order to avoid glare and create atmosphere it is always preferable to use several light sources with a low wattage instead of a single one that will keep your neighbors awake.
With LED bulbs, look for some that are equivalent to 40W and 60W and choose a color temperature of around 2700K or lower, since they feel more like incandescent bulbs.


Compact Fluorescent bulbs Outdoors? YES!
Outdoor lights tend to be on for longer periods of time and are sometimes hard to reach. Both good reasons for switching to compact fluorescent lamps.
Since not all compact fluorescents are suitable for cold temperatures check the description on the package to make sure that you choose CFLs rated for outdoors.


Take Control!
It might be practical for a variety of reasons to have the flexibility to choose the levels of light, so plan on installing dimmers to control the light levels of your outdoor lights!
This way you can go from security lights to mood lighting at the touch of a switch.
Just keep in might that dimming incandescent lights cause them to shift to a warmer, more yellow tone. I love this effect around my deck because it adds warmth and the feel of flickering candles.
Plants, however, take on a sickly look in yellow light, so dimming is not for landscape lighting!

Some manufacturers like Kichler Lighting have come out with chandeliers as well as floor and table lamps rated for exterior use. This makes it possible to bring a feeling of “home” outdoors and extend the hours you can enjoy your patio or deck.

Kichler Lighting Alameda Chandelier

Form + Function represents the outdoor lights by a large number of manufacturers. We offer choices from cutting-edge Contemporary to Craftsman style or Traditional. Our criteria for choosing the fixtures is quality, integrity and form as well as function.


Motion Sensors are great! -If you aim the sensor right, so the lights turn on from a sufficient distance.
(I am embarrassed to confess that I am speaking from painful experience: for way too long I have dealt with a hard-to-reach garage light that doesn’t turns on until I am directly under it after having stumbled my way through the dark. I’ll fix it next weekend. I think.)
Again, please don’t even think about blinding your innocent guests with a spotlight with a motion detector! It is cruel!
Motion detectors can be used in combination with regular wall lights, not only as part of a security light system.


Landscape and path lighting looks the best if the light source is is not glaring in your eyes, blinding you. That translates to: No runway lights flanking the driveway, but subtle illumination of rocks, bushes and other natural features along the way. Works just as well, but what a difference!





Corbett Spellbound Chandelier

Nowadays living rooms are not reserved just for special occasions. The living space is frequently the social center of the home.
It is the place to curl up with a good book, watch TV, visit with friends or entertain formally.

Contemporary living room via Coates Design Architect

Unlike the kitchen and bathroom, where the position of the light fixtures is pretty much determined by the built-in furniture and appliances, the living room often has a more flexible lighting plan.


Tech Lighting Monorail via Applegate Tran Interiors

In new construction you generally see recessed lights.

“Downlights place the most brightness on furniture and floor surfaces.
Three-dimensional forms stand out; the lighting blends into the ceiling.

Space downlights 4′-6′ apart for even illumination.
Arrange the pattern so it relates to doorways and windows. You do not have to keep downlights in a single grid pattern; they can be clustered over conversation areas and spread out in between.”

- American Lighting Association


Kichler Lighting Palla Chandelier

How does one know how much light is needed for a room?
Kichler Lighting has a helpful formula:

Multiply the length times the width of the room.  Then, multiply that number times 1.5.  That gives you the amount of wattage you need to light the room properly for general illumination.

Example:  A room is 12 ft. x 16 ft. (12 x 16 = 192).   Then multiply 192 x 1.5 = 288 watts.
That means an 8-light chandelier using 40-watt bulbs would give 320 watts, which is even more light than needed.


Striking Vintage Style Fixture, via TruLinea Architects

For specific task lighting in areas where stronger light is needed, multiply the area’s square footage by 2.5 rather than 1.5 to find the needed wattage.
A kitchen work island or a desk area where schoolwork is done are examples of task areas in your home.
Theoretically a large living room could according to this calculation get away with one large multi-arm chandelier, but the result would not be that pleasing.

Try to incorporate at least four layers of light in a room , so that you can smoothly transition the space from high energy to relaxing by the touch of a few dimmers.


Tech Lighting Monorail

Sometimes the living room only has one single box in the ceiling that was intended for a flush mounted ceiling light or a chandelier.
In many remodels the ceiling lights were replaced by track lights that are just sitting there in the middle of the room asked to do a task they were not intended for. The result: glare and discomfort.
Use spot lights to highlight artwork while allowing light to bounce back into the room. Great way of getting ambient light without glare.

Here the Tech Lighting MonoRail spots do a great job of creating drama as well as allowing ambient light to reach into the room.







Track Lighting used artfully by Joie Wilson Interior Design

Track lights are great for illuminating artwork, interesting architectural details, bookcases, anything you would like to show off.
By illuminating these focal points you will get the benefit of extra ambient light that doesn’t shine directly into anyone’s eyes.







Tech Lighting Display Lights via Webber and Studio Architects

Start by illuminating points of interest in the room.
Find architectural details like artwork on the walls, a bookcase, heavy beams or a natural stone fireplace.

Once they are illuminated this alone will add a considerate amount of accent light to the room.
Track lighting with wall washers, individual spot lights or recessed lights with adjustable trims are ideal for this task.

In a smaller living area this might do it for the ambient layer of light.  In larger spaces you can add wall sconces or ceiling lights.
Torchieres that light the ceiling can help expand the space visually.


Luceplan Costanza

Once you have lit your focal points, look for your task areas: Your favorite reading chair, a game table, sitting area.  You want “pools of light” to give these areas atmosphere. It’s all about creating a feeling of comfort well being.
Portable lamps have the advantage of being  very flexible.
You can move them around and change the shade color to fit the season.

Remember to layer the light and control the layers independently so the room can adapt to different functions as needed.
Dimmers are a good way to help the change the mood of the room.
As an added benefit, dimmers extend the life of incandescent bulbs considerably.



Cozy Reading Chair, via Rebekkah Davies Interiors + Design

Table and floor lamps with fabric shades add a warm and friendly ambience to the room.
The warm circle of light invites you to sit down, relax, read a good book or engage in an intimate conversation.


Don’t be afraid of being eclectic in your lighting choices.
Got an old lamp base from your grandmother that has sentimental value – pair it with a fresh shade and feel good about setting it on your modern side table.
It’s all about being creative!

Eclectic and inviting living room via 6thstreetdesignschool




Colorful Living Area via Kristen Rivoli Interior Design

Magnificent Living Room via Applegate Tran Interiors

Last week I did a house consultation in a home where there was no overhead lighting in the living room except for two rows of track lights aiming towards the sofa “for reading”.  Horrendous glare, no matter where you were sitting or standing in the room.

Simple fix:  By moving the track close to two opposite walls and aiming the track heads at a beautiful painting,  a huge rough-hewn beam and a colorful wall with family photos the room received enough general light bouncing off the walls. The rest was then filled in with table- and floor lamps. We changed a ratty looking shade for a new one in a neutral tone.

Result: An inviting space with warmth and focus on what matters to this couple.

Cost: a few hundred dollars.


Lifestyles change over time, and furniture gets moved around. That’s the reason portable lamps work so well in a living area.
It’s amazing, how  good lighting can change a space. And it doesn’t even have to be expensive.
A few tricks make a huge difference in making the living room feel comfortable and inviting.

I do so many home consultations where all I do is to haul a few floor and table lamps out from various nooks and crannies throughout the house and demonstrate how creating “pools of Light” creates atmosphere.
We also try to find just the right “wow” pieces to make an instant impact in your room.
At Form + Function we are all about finding good lighting solutions for every budget.

You can create ambient light by placing a $25 floor can light behind a potted plant or by using it to highlight a sculpture.
We have lots of tricks up our sleeves for getting you the most for your money.



Rules of Thumb for Track Lighting
This is one of the most frequent questions we encounter when we do lighting consultations: How far away from the wall do I position my track?

Here are a few guidelines:


For lighting objects on a wall, the wall itself, or any vertical surface, position the track and the fixtures as shown above

  1. Generally, fixtures should be aimed at a 30 degree angle from the vertical to prevent light from shining in anyone’s eyes and to avoid disturbing reflections on the surface of the object. Usually, one fixture is required for each object being accented.
  2. Measure the distance (“B” to “C”) from wall, on ceiling as shown in the tablebelow.
  3. Mount track at “Location” (“A” to “B”) from wall, on ceiling, as shown in the table.

Mounting Distance for Track Lighting

Wall grazing via

Track lighting is ideal for artwork, bookcases, interesting architectural features. Try grazing a stone fireplace with spot lights positioned close to the wall  making the interesting texture stand out. Or highlight a beautiful wood ceiling so that it glows with the warmth of the materials.

Wall grazing is such an easy and relatively inexpensive technique that  can become an important feature in itself.

The effect entirely depends on the texture of the wall, the light source and angle of the beam. A wall graze creates dramatic high and low levels of light on irregular surfaces,such as brick or stucco.

The aim  is to get an even spread of light across the entire wall from an acute overhead angle (between six and twelve inches from the wall depending on the ceiling height), to make the texture  stand out.
You can use a track positioned close to the wall to create this effect or recessed lights as shown in this stunning home by Lacroux and Streeb.of Basalt, Colorado.

Wall washing is another technique that can be used to add light to a room. It is different from wall grazing, which creates more shadows to emphasize texture.
A wall wash will make a wall look smooth and minimize its texture due to the even illumination. To create this effect the lights are positioned further away from the wall.

The rule of thumb for wall washing is for your mounting distance (the distance between your lights and the wall) to equal your spacing distance (the distance between your lights).

1/3 of your ceiling height is a good guideline for determining this.

  • Mounting and spacing distance : 2-3 feet for ceilings up to 9′ high.
  • Mounting and spacing distance:e 3-4 feet for ceilings between 9 and 11′ high, etc.

In addition to the aesthetic effects of wall grazing and wall washing, it is amazing how much you can illuminate a space using light reflected off walls.

Last word: when using light to bounce off and showcase architectural features, always keep one thing in mind: Only illuminate what you actually want to highlight!
Sounds so simple, yet I am tempted to repeat the phrase.
Don’t shine a light up to a spot where you primarily highlight a fire alarm and a faulty patch job, but move the beam so that it hits the beautiful arch and stucco ceiling and leave what you don’t want highlighted in the shadows. That is what shadows are for!


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Extend your living space to the outdoors!

Outdoor Lighting and Fireplace via CG&S Design Build

Outdoor living areas have become a huge trend and it’s easy to see why. This is where we spend a lot of time. Why not  extend the personality and comfort of our decor and personal style to the outdoors?

Outdoor Lights add warmth to this outdoor space via Home Envy

Gone are the days of a small cement porch with a single gas barbeque and a few rickety lawn chairs.  Outdoor living is in!

Since a lot of activities take part after dark it is important to make sure that the lighting is perfect, first of course, so we can see , second for aesthetic reasons.

Stunning outdoor lighting via Home Envy

It’s a good idea to actually create a  lighting plan for your outdoor living space, just like you would do it for your living room or kitchen. Think of all the different activities the space is used for and plan with that in mind: Grilling and cooking, reading in your favorite deck chair, enjoying a romantic meal al fresco or having everyone over for a neighborhood party.
All these activities require different kinds of outdoor lights.

Inspiring outdoor lighting design via House and Home

Just like an interior room outdoor spaces profit from the use of multiple smaller light sources instead of a few powerful ones. The same “layers of light” we are talking about indoors.

An overhead outdoor light can be complemented by a few sconces and a table or floor lamp for task lighting in the seating area.

Outdoor Reading Lamps via

Limit bright lights to high activity areas such as the entrance and your outdoor kitchen and use softer decorative overhead lighting in your outdoor dining and living area.

Keep in mind that great contrasts in lighting, especially outdoors can be trip hazard.  As we age, the eye’s ability to adjust from dark to light surroundings slows, which makes it harder to move quickly from a well lit to a darker area. So, if you are a baby-boomer or older, just plan your outdoor lights accordingly: Avoid sharp contrasts by using multiple light sources.
Use soft ambient lights to fill the completely dark areas with a touch of light, especially at the perimeter of brightly lit areas around doorways and stairs.


Outdoor Path Lights via

A little light goes a long way outdoors

Please, please (did I say it pretty enough?) limit the use of flood/spotlights!! Sure they are cheap and functional, but they are also also extremely glary,  a nuisance to your neighbors and  a source of light pollution.
Of course they have their place: for safety, like at the garage with a motion sensor and at the barn, so you can check that all the critters are safe and tucked in.

Extend your interior design plan to the outdoors

Evenings on the porch are for relaxing.
Fire pits are immensely popular these days.
One of the many reasons is the warm, amber glow of the light (and then of course the fragrance of the burning wood – and the marshmallows!)

A fire pit doesn’t throw a lot of light, but it creates a very unique atmosphere of intimacy and warmth.
You can create this feel with the right patio and landscape lighting.

Outdoor Firepit by Doug Burch

Outdoor Firepit via Doug Burch


We spend most of the time at home in summer outside. We eat all our meals outside and sit and read or visit with friends on the deck every night. We had the dilemma that it was easy to illuminate the deck close to the house under the portal (we live in New Mexico where houses have portals), but further out on our big deck it was pitch black – and we do love to sit and read and that is our favorite spot. Solution: a commercial light string with regular bulbs in the tree branches above reading/dining area. 25W bulbs on a dimmer. Works like a charm and looks so nice, for parties, too!
String lights are ideal for small outdoor spaces, too.

Lighting small outdoor spaces

String lights add charm and a festive touch to your outdoor areas

If all this seems overwhelming, keep in mind that it’s not necessary to illuminate everything in your yard.  Just decide which areas are the highest priorities for you and your family.  Begin closest to the house, since that is where most activities take place.
A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can have a huge impact on your landscape. Again, follow the principles of indoor lighting: illuminate only what you want to highlight and create focal points.

Outdoor Step Lights add safety and general illumination

Looking at the lights at my own walkway down to the horse barn I cringe, since our wonderfully creative and rambunctious dogs have destroyed every single one of them. My project to keep me busy for a weekend, I guess.

After this experience, I can’t stress it enough, how important it is to buy the quality that can stand up to the (ab)use your yard gets.
In my quest to find affordable high quality fixtures I chose some that obviously didn’t stand the test and now have to do the job over.
Should have looked for bollards like these I saw in the Swedish magazine Hus o Hem. They look indestructible!

I also need this T-shirt from!!!


Outdoor kitchens have gained popularity. I definitely have one on my wish list! Just stumbled across this great outdoor kitchen that uses industrial warehouse lights. Looks so much better than the typical barbecue light and of course illuminates the space so that you can really see what you are doing.




Outdoor Kitchen with Barn Lights

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Dining Area via Skona Hem

I love to cook, eat, and especially share a meal with friends and family.

Sitting down at a dining table after a long day (working or playing) is just such a pleasure.

Today I sat down and wanted to write about all the practical aspects of dining room lighting. Measurements and numbers etc. All good stuff. But when I went to look for photos I REALLY got sidetracked.
After hours of pouring over wonderful images of various dining areas I realized that there were SO many places I would feel at home and would really enjoy lingering.

A mix of Warehouse Shade Pendants in a cozy Kitchen

I personally lean towards  contemporary design, but enjoy all kinds of spaces.
A traditional dining room with perfect place settings can be such a treat – with the right company and good food!
And that’s just it!  It’s all about personal style, expressing ourselves and embracing different styles when we come across them. Good food, friends and good company.

I’ll therefore share a bunch of fabulous photos of dining areas in between all the dry facts.

Dining room with Ingo Maurer Zettel'z Pendants

In our showroom we so often get  questions like how large a chandelier to choose for the dining area or how high to hang it over the table. (Answers: Diameter 12″ less than the width of table.  The bottom of chandelier should be 30″ above table.)

In most cases the chandelier is hung way too high, probably with the thought in mind that it could then help illuminate the entire room. Wrong!

Beautiful sunny dining room via CGS Design Build

The bottom of chandelier should be approximately 30″ above the table.

With a chandelier hung too high  and no additional lighting the overall ambiance of the dining room  is more of a diner or fast food restaurant, less conducive to lingering.

Do keep in mind that all these rules of thumb I am presenting are really just that –  ”Rules of Thumb”.  They are not set in stone. There are quite a few factors that determine the right fixture size and hanging height, like the space, the size of the table, the diameter and height of the fixture, as well as the height of the ceiling.

This said -

A dining room chandelier generally should measure 6 -12″ less in diameter than the width of table.
Makes sense: You don’t want to hit your head on it or feel crowded.

The diameter of the chandelier in inches should at least equal the room diameter in feet.
(Well, just thought you’d like to know…. )

For ceilings nine feet or higher consider a multi-tier style chandelier  to fill the space .


Flos Mod30 Chandelier, striking and elegant

Thinking back to meals I have thoroughly enjoyed over the last months, there were cozy gatherings at friends’, a few nice restaurants , several business lunches and dinners. I ALWAYS look at lighting, when I am in a room (No, It’s not a crick in my neck!)  because it amazes me, how lighting affects the mood and general well-being. Without an exception, the places with the best lighting had the best food!


More »

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Tech Lighting Zenith Pendants via artisticdesign

Photo: Tech Lighting Zenith Pendants 

Make your bathroom into a sanctuary of relaxation. You can achieve this with the right bathroom lighting.

Be Creative! - via Joel Kelly Design

Bathrooms are no longer just functional rooms with harsh light and cold tile, but have become warm, stylish, inviting retreats.
The introduction of warmer materials and colors call for  softer, more sophisticated bathroom lighting.







Be Bold!

With a lot of effort and money being spent on beautiful materials and wonderful luxuries, you of course want to be able to see the beauty of your bathroom not only during the daytime.
Keep in mind, that only the right lighting will be able to fully show the colors and textures of the beautiful stone, glass and wood that make your bathroom special.





via Shoberg Custom Homes

A good lighting plan asks for layers of light: placing ample direct light where it is needed for showers, shaving, or putting on makeup, while other light sources enhance the overall mood of the room.

Task lighting around the vanity must be bright enough to do its job, but the addition of indirect accent pieces provides a glow that softens the more direct task lighting.




via Visbeen Associates

Good, functional bathroom lighting is needed for the area around the vanity mirror and sink. These light fixtures need to be gently flattering, yet bright enough so you can see to shave or apply makeup.
Wall sconces mounted on either side of the mirror or vertical strip lighting fixtures or are best for casting an even light across the face.
In addition to adding a decorative touch to the bathroom and vanity area, wall sconces help evening out the light by eliminating shadows.




The best vanity lighting surrounds the face with light.
Light from all sides minimizes shadows under the chin, eyes, cheeks, and forehead.

A wall sconce on either side of the mirror is ideal for lighting your vanity area.

Rule of Thumb: Normally you want the center of the fixture at 60-66″ above the floor and the sconces should be least 30″ apart




Beautiful Cabinetry : Christian Gladu Design

With the size and positioning of some vanity mirrors, sidelights can, however, sometimes be a challenge.

This is where a fixture for over the mirror might be the only solution unless you opt for the elegant, but costly solution of mounting the wall sconces directly onto the mirror.

A vanity light fixture above the mirror should be placed 75-80 inches above the floor and ideally hold 150 watts, spread over a fixture that’s at least 24 inches long so that the light will wash evenly over the person in front of the mirror.


Photo: Teri Fotheringham

Shower lighting is another area that often gets neglected.
In smaller bathrooms a fixture may not be necessary in the shower stall itself, if it has a clear glass door – but it is nice!

A recessed downright wet location makes it easier to read shampoo bottles, and just adds extra sparkle and a welcoming atmosphere.
Recessed fixtures also work well over a freestanding tub.




via Hurst Design Build Remodeling

In most bathrooms a surface-mounted ceiling fixture is used to provide ambient light.
Be creative: A pendant lamp or a charming mini-chandelier can take the place of the more inconspicuous recessed down light and add sparkle or character to the bathroom.






Another interesting option is cove lighting or other indirect concealed light sources, which can add a soft glow around the perimeter of the room.
In this oasis of a bathroom the architect Hugh Jefferson Randolph also created a backlit mirror by simply placing fluorescent tubes behind the mirror and sandblasting part of it off in rectangular patterns. Beautiful in its simplicity!

A small recessed spotlight can be directed at a beautiful powder room basin or highlight the tile work and at the same time create another layer of light in the bathroom.

Think about using dimmers in your bathroom. They can make you control the light level in your bathroom from a gentle night light to bright task lighting when needed.

Small can be Beautiful! via Skona Hem

A bathroom makeover doesn’t have to break the bank.

So, you are stuck with a single fixture over the mirror and one utilitarian ceiling light.  Make the best of it!

You can use lighting to make your bathroom look larger and elegant, serene, or comfortable and cozy.





via Skona Hem

Add a small table lamp on a counter, an inexpensive portable up light on the floor behind a plant or a Soji screen and voila! Instant added atmosphere.

A linear fixture above the mirror or a fixture with several shielded bulbs will give sufficient light for grooming. Granted, it’s best with the light coming from the sides, but if you use a mirror that’s as large as possible over the vanity area, a long light strip will give a good amount of light and make the room appear larger.

Depending on your personal style the ceiling light can be replaced with anything from a contemporary spotlight cluster to an ornate mini-chandelier for added pizzazz.




There are many factors to consider when choosing the lighting for this very personal space.
This is the area of our home where we are our true selves, where we savor our private time alone or with a loved one.

Cozy Bedroom in Sweden viw

Not only intended for sleeping, the bedroom is usually the space you get dressed, choose your outfits and also where you curl up with a good book and relax.

Choosing the right bedroom lighting plays a major role in how comfortable you feel, not to mention your ability to choose matching socks.

Most bedrooms have a central ceiling light that is often asked to light the entire room.  But you really can’t make one type of light serve all the purposes of reading in bed, getting dressed, etc. Just like any other room in the house, the bedroom, however, benefits tremendously from the use of multiple light sources to create “layers of light”.
Table lamps, wall sconces and floor lamps can all add to the overall feeling of comfort.

Bedside lamp via Jodie Rosen Design


Good Bedside lighting is usually the first priority in a bedroom.

These lights can be a great excuse to add something fun and unique to accessorize your room. Table lamps on bedside tables or nightstands is a classic option that provides a good sense of symmetry and balance to a room.

So, how tall do bedside reading lamps be?
I hate to give this answer, but it’s true: It depends.


Colorful yet tranquil bedroom via Robin's Nest and Houzz

A lot depends on the scale of the room. An oversized master bedroom suite with high ceilings and a king size bed with a tall headboard can obviously handle larger scale table lamps next to the bed. A small intimate bedroom with small side tables will need a different scale to look balanced. Low modern beds with low nightstands are yet another issue.





Soothing Blue Bedroom by Mosaik Design. Photo: Lincoln Barbour

Yet, it all boils down to functionality. You want to be able to read comfortably without glare.
Here are some general rules of thumb: If your nightstand is 24” to 30” tall, your lamps should be at least 27” – 32” tall.  Low, modern style night stands that are only 18”- 20” off the floor, call for taller lamps for comfortable reading.






Reading Lamps from Hudson Valley Lighting via Artistic Design for Living and Houzz

Swing-arm lamps great as bedside reading lamps since they doesn’t take up space on the bedside tables.
It is important to mount them at the correct height.
The ideal mounting height depends on how you prefer to read in bed, seated or lying down. You don’t want the lights so high that they create glare and on the other side you want to be comfortable and not have to contort yourself to get light on the pages.




Rule of Thumb for Hanging Bedside Wall Lights via CWB Architects

The best way to find your personal favorite mounting height is to get into bed in your normal reading position. Then measure from the floor to just above your shoulder height.
OK, so you like reading sitting up and your partner reads lying down. How is that going to work? Hanging the bedside sconces at different heights on the wall would obviously look wrong. This is where swing-arm wall lights that adjust both vertically and horizontally come in.





Pendants as bedside reading lamps via Feldman Architecture

Another great way of providing light for reading in bed is using pendants.
Pendant lights have the advantage that they don’t take away space on the usually too small night stands.
It is just critical to get the hanging height right and to choose pendants that don’t just focus the light directly down onto the surface below, but spreads it through the shade.

Bedroom Design in Black and White via Skona Hem





Berenice Table Lamps in colorful bedroom via Johnson Berman

The following article by the American Lighting Association offers helpful tips and a checklist for lighting your bedroom:


Lighting Experts Offer Lighting Tips for the Bedroom

Whether you retire to a small alcove or grand master suite, you probably use your bedroom for more than simply slumber. Dark bedrooms are great for sleeping, but too little light hinders other activities taking place there.


Artemide Tolomeo Wall Lights via MJ Lanphier

The bedroom has become a sanctuary, a haven,” says Kathy Knapp, lighting consultant and designer for Wabash Electirc’s Showroom Division in Indiana. “People are watching TV, reading, relaxing and spending time alone in their bedroom.”






Dan Blitzer agrees. “Bedrooms are getting larger,” says the American Lighting Association’s continuing education instructor.  “And while the bed remains the focal point, it might be sharing its space with a television, workout equipment, a computer, or a sitting area,” adds Blitzer.





Troy Lighting Bedside Lamps via Rambling Renovators

To illuminate its many sides, bedrooms need layers of diffused light. “You must have enough light to focus on particular areas, as well as permeate the corners and edges,” says Blitzer. “This means both overhead and portable lights throughout the room.”Types and styles of lighting depend on bedroom occupants.
Couples need individually controlled reading lights on each side of the bed.




Little Girl's Room via Skona Hem

Children demand extra light for homework areas, The baby’s nursery requires an installed dimmer or subdued lamp that allows parents to check on their cherub without waking him or her up.




A senior citizen’s bedroom has special lighting needs as well. “Those over fifty need more light to see well,” says Blitzer. “Their eyes are more sensitive to glare.” For maximum comfort, seniors should make sure bedroom bulbs are bright enough and covered by shades or bowl-type fixtures.

Serene bedroom with table lamps. Via Meg Branff Design

Lighting showrooms offer something for every taste and pocketbook. Lamps range in style from neo-classic to contemporary. Rope lighting in cove molding lifts the eye. Recessed cans direct light to specific areas. “We are beginning to see the use of chandeliers in bedrooms, as well as semi flush fixtures and ceiling fans, depending on ceiling height,” says Knapp.

Soothing colors make this bedroom by Flow Home Staging and Design

Even in homes with contemporary bath and kitchens, bedroom trends tend toward traditional. For warmth, look for bronze, brass and antique brass fixtures. Darker finishes and colors also predominate. Cream, textured white and brushed nickel offer a lighter bedside option.

Bedside lamps with shades offer soft light without glare


“Bedroom lighting purchases are usually driven by existing furniture decor,” says Howard Bernstein, vice-president of ARTCRAFT, a Canadian-based lighting manufacturer. “Bedroom furniture is a major purchase and lighting choices should coordinate with that style.”

To update an existing bedroom, replace a flush-mount ceiling fixture with a newer design or a ceiling fan. Change or add portable table lamps for a quick, inexpensive face lift.


Cozy bedroom with fireplace via alvhem

Uplighting from the floor to highlight a plant or potted tree adds interest, as does directional lighting.

When building a new home, consider a pre-construction bedroom lighting plan. “At that point, you can install lighting exactly where it needs to be,” says Bernstein. “You can pre-program the outlets so you have them-and enough of them-where you want them.”


Elegant Bedroom with beautiful Pendant via marthaoharainteriors

The Right Night Light

Bedroom lighting ranges from basic to bold, dimmed to dramatic. To help you properly light your bedroom, the American Lighting Association offers the following tips:

BE SIZE WISE: Before buying bedroom lighting, first determine the size of room, says ARTCRAFT vice president Howard Bernstein. Take your room measurements, along with outlet locations and furniture placement to a lighting showroom. The experts there can help you fill in with just the right light.


Bedside lamps can be mis-matched for an eclectic look. via amerrymishap

HEIGHT RIGHT: Consider scale. Bedrooms typically have lower 8 or 9 ft. tall ceilings. Avoid fixtures with longer bodies in favor of shorter or flush-mounted fixtures. “You want a certain level for reading and enough lighting for dressing,” says Bernstein. “You also need light to be high enough to reach all the areas.”


Cheerful lighting in teen bedroom via home designing

ROOM TO GLOW: Decide what you want to do in the room, then choose appropriate lighting. Home computers, sewing machines and exercise equipment in the bedroom need directed lighting. Sitting areas beg for softer, shaded fixtures. Makeup tables demand brighter light.


Bedside table lamps with softly diffused shades in two colors via marthaohara

THE LIGHTER SIDE: Avoid shades on lamps or lights that are too opaque, otherwise your bedroom will be too dark, say the ALA experts. The fixtures may look nice, but the light will not be as functional. “When bying a table lamp opt for one with a softly diffused shade,” says Dan Blitzer, ALA continuing education instructor. “Spend a moment to see how you turn it on and off to make sure it is not going to be too difficult to manage when you are in bed.”


Bedroom Lighting in serene bedroom via csimplicitydesign

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Don’t install lights directly over the bed. You will tend to look up at them while you are laying in bed. Direct light from overhead is less comfortable than soft light at face level.


Bedside Table Lamps with Opaque Shades give a Pleasant Reading Light

MORE IS MORE: No single source of light is as visually comfortable as a combination of portable lamps and installed lighting. “Too much light in one place is unpleasant and glaring,” says Blitzer. “It’s better to see more light sources of lower wattage.”


Warm Colors in a Modern Bedroom

IN THE MOOD: “A strong dose of ambience is also important in the bedroom,” says Blitzer, who suggests installing dimmers on lights for altering effect. Softer or colored light bulbs can also change a room’s mood.


Cool Closet Lighting - for people with uni-colored wardrobes

CLOSET CONDITIONS: Few things are more frustrating than dark closets. “Closets need good light,” says Blitzer. “But be careful not to put a hot light bulb too near combustible clothes.” Attach a closet light 12 inches from the edge of the rod or upper shelf. Lighting experts favor fluorescent lights because they provide lots of light, are cooler, save energy and can be concealed behind the header of the door. If you use a good color tube, you will be better able to tell the color of your clothing.


Bedside reading lights in a eclectic Swedish bedroom

BEDSIDE READING: Books and bed seems synonymous. Portable reading lights set on nightstands offer book lovers flexibility. “The guiding principle in buying reading lamps should be the ability to adjust the light to your taste, either by swiveling or moving its arm,” says Blitzer. “They should also be well-shielded so you don’t see the bulb and you are able to read without bothering your sleeping partner.” Lighting controls located at the middle of the headboard allow you to turn off a snoozing partner’s reading light without disturbing them.


Feminine Bedroom with oversized pendant light via husohem

Beautiful Bedroom via home designing

CONTROL POWER: Imagine pushing a bedside button and turning the lights off or on. No problem, with high tech lighting controls. “There are gadgets to turn off lights with an infrared remote like you use for your TV,” says Blitzer. “Lighting professionals can help y0u install these.”


Reading Lights are a must for a Bedroom


BEDROOM LIGHTING CHECKLIST: To make sure you have proper lighting in your bedroom or master suite, the American Lighting Association suggests asking the following questions. (Tips: You want to be able to answer “yes” to all!)


Bedroom with Fanimation Ceiling Fan via CG&S Design Build

1. Can I see well enough to get dressed?

2. Is there a light in the closet?

3. Are there individual reading lights on each side of the bed?

4. Is there an overhead light source?

5. Do I have enough light to determine the colors of clothing in my drawers?

6.Do I have a light source near the door?

7. Have I installed outlets in convenient locations while building/renovating my bedroom?

8. Can I fill dark corners with portable lighting sources?

9. Do I have a dimmer installed on the overhead light source?

10. Are there lights at the dressing table to help with makeup?


Industrial Design Bedroom via Designsponge

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Colorful Children's Room with Reading Light

A lot of fun is to be had when decorating a child’s room.
All kinds of themes and colors are available to tailor the room to a tot’s tastes.
When it comes to lighting, practicality and atmosphere are important.

The first factor to consider is the age of the child.

Babies need central lighting during the day, and something soft to let them sleep at night.
An effective choice would be a ceiling light, centered in the room with an up-lighting shade and a dimmer switch. More »

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