The do’s and don’ts of mixing lighting fixtures

When it comes to illuminating a space, your options are basicaly endless, because the array of lighting fixtures that are available is huge. This can be both a blessing and a curs. A blessing because you are guaranteed to have many options available that meet your preferences, and it’s impossible not to find lighting fixtures that you enjoy. It’s also a curse because the sheer number of choices you have to make can quickly become overwhelming. What will you do if you find four, five, ten wooden lamps that seem to go perfectly in the living room? Flip a coin? No, because a coin only has two faces. But, don’t worry and don’t give up hope. We have prepared some tips that we think will help you navigate the “finding the perfect lighting fixtures” process painlessly, and if we’re lucky, you’ll even have a little fun while browsing.


So let’s start by talking about the different options you have to consider when combining lights. First of all, each space in a home or office has different lighting requirements. This means that if you know what space you are lighting, that will help narrow down your many options. Here is a look at the most important elements that you have to take into consideration:

Material – aluminum, black, brass, bronze, chrome, glass, gold, nickel, silver, wood

Finish – polished, aged, brushed, distressed, satin

Type of Light – accent, ambient, task

Fixture Type – ceiling mounted, chandeliers, pendants, portable (i.e. lamps), rail, recessed, track, under cabinet, wall mounted

Style – commercial, contemporary, country/rustic, craftsman/mission, crystal, tiffany, traditional, transitional, tropical


Now, the next step is for you to understand how to mix and match all of these options to light your home as efficiently and eye pleasing as possible. You can start by identifying the feeling you want to radiate from each room. Let’s check out some tips on how you can tackle the rest of your lighting project with ease.

Let’s start with de do’s:

Layer your types of light

Layering light is the basic foundation of every well-lit space. Layers help create dimension, illuminate function, they set a mood, and improve the versatility of any space. You’ll want to make sure to include at least two types of light in here: ambient, task and/or accent.

Ambient lighting is like a canvas upon which to paint a distinctive lighting picture. It’s the big fluorescent box in the center of your kitchen or the track lighting or ceiling fan in your family room or great room. You can use evenly-spaced downlights and recessed lights to help create the perfect ambient light.


Task lighting is the light you need to get the daily to-do list done. This layer of lighting is concentrated where routine tasks get accomplished, like homework, cooking, putting on your makeup, brushing your teeth, etc. Task lighting is often under or over cabinets and around mirrors. You can strategically place downlights and recessed lighting above countertops, slightly away from the cabinets to help shed light on high-task areas.

Accent lighting is about casting a glow on your favourite things. Accent lighting is decorative lighting, including fixtures that make a design statement and those that complement a room, furnishings and things like sculptures, plants, boo, whatever it is in your home you want to illuminate.

Bonus Tip: remember to control your layers separately. This will give you the most flexibility in varying the function and feel of your new space after the lighting is installed.

Create a focal point

Your focal point can be one light fixture (an amazing chandelier or a cool looking lamp), but it doesn’t have to be. You can use lighting to draw attention to any element in the room you want to be your focal point, such as a painting or a fireplace. Track lighting and wall sconces are often used to complement, frame and direct the eye toward whatever you choose to be the center of attention.


Coordinate across rooms

There are limited physical breaks or barriers in an open floor plan. In this design, traditionally separate living spaces all blend together into one another to form one large gathering room. Most often you’ll see the living space, dining area and kitchen connected. It’s important in this type of floor plan to be consistent across all rooms. You don’t have to match all finishes or styles, but the overall feel of all three rooms should flow well together. A tropical style in the living room, a country style for dining, and commercial throughout the kitchen will cause confusion across all three spaces. We recommend choosing one style for all “rooms” in an open floor plan, then using the type of light and fixture to create breaks and distinguish between the functions of each space.

Mix finishes tastefully

We recommend mixing at least two, but no more than four finishes in each room. This is the hardest task to do well. Before you buy, take some time to get inspired. Flick through a magazine or browse Pinterest, or, if you want a more hands on experience, go to a lighting showroom and move the actual fixtures around to see what looks good together.


Let’s talk don’ts:

Don’t try to do too many things in one room

Like we’ve said in the beginning, you have lots of options. Trying to incorporate to many into one space can cause confusion and discomfort. Start with your favorites and the essential fixtures for illumination, and then add as needed. Create a design of your new space so you can see the total effect of the lighting in the room before you buy.

Try something new

You are, after all, re-doing your space for a reason, right? Whether you are changing the function of the room, breathing new life into a old tired space, or trying to create a new vibe, changing the lighting can have a dramatic effect on the overall feeling of a room. A new style of lighting will give you the best visual transformation, while the type of light and fixtures will most effectively create an emotive evolution.



Don’t go too far out of your comfort zone

While we’re all for trying something new, you need to use caution and not stray too far out of your comfort zone. Light fixtures are a significant investment, and they can make or break a room. If you are unsure in any way, take a picture of it and hang it in your new space. If after a few days you don’t love it, choose a different fixture that you are sure to enjoy looking at every day. Because it is so important within your home or office, lighting fixtures aren’t a purchase you want to regret or have to re-do a few months down the road.


Don’t go for looks only

Considering function is essential in lighting, so please don’t buy light fixtures without doing this first. Always start by defining how your space will be used. Second, choose light fixtures that serve that purpose and appeal to your tastes. Good luck in your searches. Following these tips will put you on the path to creating a comfortable, functional and stylish space.

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