Let's talk lighting. It may not be the most showy or glamorous aspect of interior design, but its impact can't be ignored. A harsh or inadequate lighting setup can seriously undermine an otherwise beautiful space, casting awkward shadows on your favorite pieces of furniture and obscuring small details. On the flip side, the right lighting can create visual depth, foster a comforting vibe, and even showcase your unique personality.
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"[Lighting] is an essential part of a room's overall function, but also its fashion," interior designer Justin Q. Williams of Atlanta's Trademark Design Co. tells Hunker. So yes, lighting should be a priority for practical reasons, but utility doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style.
Hunker caught up with some interior design experts to illuminate the outdated lighting trends you'll want to avoid — and shed some light on new and exciting options for brightening up your space. Find their advice below.
1. Fluorescent Bulbs
Although fluorescent light bulbs do a quick job of brightly illuminating a space, they can look harsh and dated, says designer Delia Kenza of the Brooklyn-based design studio Delia Kenza Interiors. "First, they emit so much heat," she tells Hunker. "Secondly, no one looks good under that blue lighting."
For a simple and cost-effective swap, opt for LED bulbs, which come in a variety of warmer, more hospitable tones and are way more energy efficient than fluorescents. The environment — and your house guests — will thank you.
2. Single Pendant-Style Light Fixtures
Lone pendant-style overhead light fixtures are a major no-go for Williams, who cites both their antiquated look and lack of functionality. In houses especially, most rooms are simply too big to be fully lit up by a single pendant light. "Now that homes cater to our modern-day lifestyles," Williams says, "lighting within must do the same and be able to produce adequate light with as much energy efficiency as possible."
3. Recessed Overhead Lighting
Kenza recommends steering clear of large recessed overhead lights, which create jarring vibes and are decades out of date. "Recessed lighting can be useful when general lighting is needed," she explains, "but there are more discrete options." Something as simple as opting for a few smaller recessed lights instead of one distractingly large fixture can make a space feel more welcoming and contemporary.
4. Boring, Box-Standard Light Fixtures
Why not use your light fixtures themselves to tell a story or express your personality? In lieu of box-standard overhead fixtures, which tend to come in boring shapes and "antiquated finishes," Williams is partial to using "unexpected" household items as light fixtures — think rustic-chic woven baskets or colorful handheld fans.
On the flip side, Williams also suggests experimenting with exposed Edison bulbs sans lampshades or fixtures, which allow the simple but eye-catching bulbs to shine, literally and figuratively. "The minimalist design aesthetic really makes for a stunning space without visual distraction," he adds.
5. No Table Lamps or Sconces
"Overhead lighting is important, but it shouldn't be the sole source of brightness in a room," says Kenza. She recommends incorporating a healthy mix of table lamps, floor lamps, and sconces in addition to overheads for a "layered look," which can complement a variety of decor aesthetics and is of the moment. Plus, plenty of home decor retailers now offer easy and affordable plug-in options for sconces and other wall lights. "These are great for renters because no electrician is usually needed, and you can take your lights when you move," Kenza adds.