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Lighting Fixtures – Top Tips from a Designer

Posted December 14, 2022

Would it surprise you to learn that one of the toughest parts of a renovation is often the decision making?

It’s easy to assume that choosing the details of your project is the “exciting” part of your renovation or custom home, but for many people, it’s easy to feel stressed by the volume of decisions that need to be made and the pressure of wanting to get it exactly right.

From flooring to paint to cabinetry , there are near limitless options to choose, and it can be easy to overlook the importance of some choices over the more obvious larger decisions.  Take lighting, for example.  Lighting can sometimes fall through the cracks when you are considering your design, but beware, poor lighting choices can dramatically affect your space and the overall look of all those carefully chosen details.

Thankfully, our good friends at All Things Home recently shared a helpful article to help you navigate the endless possibilities in pendant lighting.  In the article, “Pendant lighting:  33 ways to go minimal or make a statement“, author Anita Murray shares insight from local Ottawa Designers like Amsted’s Selections Supervisor, Deirdre Crick, about choosing the right fixture for each design.

Pendant lights in a dark kitchen
Subtle Pendant Lights in this Custom in the Country Home by Amsted.

In addition to her response about the subtle light fixture selected in this kitchen, Deirdre offered the following answers to some common questions regarding different light fixtures and the role they play in your space.

Q:  Why was a subtle light fixture chosen for the kitchen (above)?

In the case of this project, a “barely there” light fixture fit well in the space because of its surroundings – a dark, rich cabinet/counter combo, a light knotty wood floor, and natural stone backsplash create a comfortable and homey feel that would feel overwhelmed by a large or prominent light fixture. Good design takes the entire appearance of the space into account rather than trying to make every piece a spectacle of its own.

Q:  What are some of the pros of light fixtures that are “barely there”?

A barely-there fixture can get lost in a space, which for some spaces is a good thing! Having light that is functional instead of decorative can add to a beautiful space and not overwhelm it was material objects. Although many people may think a bold fixture is the only personality choice, you’d be surprised at the options for a barely-there fixture. Texture glass, wire frames, and light bulbs can all add aspects of personality but would be considered a barely-there light fixture. The selections are endless, there’s almost no wrong choice.

Q:  On the flip side, why might someone opt for a bolder light fixture?

A bold fixture can help to tie a space together. Have an all-white kitchen that’s lacking flare? A bold fixture can add in colour, texture, and balance to a space that doesn’t have that in its permanent features.

Q:  What are the pros and cons of a more bold fixture?

In the right space, a bold fixture adds an additional dimension to your home. It’s also relatively easy to change out light fixtures as your style changes. They can be inexpensive ways to add new character to your space! The only time a bold light fixture can be a con is when the space doesn’t permit its size or visual weight. If your kitchen has dark cabinet, counters, and a large black light fixture in the middle, your kitchen will feel washed out and flat with too much of one colour.

Q:  What is the significance of lighting in a space?

We all require light to get things done, whether it’s task lighting, ambient, or decorative. Having various levels of light creates interest in a space and can portray a room in a different light (pun intended). Ambient light is required for our eyes to see general details, these types of lights would be pot lights and wall sconces. Task lighting is like its name, most important for performing a task like desk lamps or under cabinet lighting. Decorative lights, like island pendants or table lamps. Each level of lighting is important in its own way.

Q:  What should a homeowner keep in mind when deciding on lighting options?

Make sure to think of your space as a whole, think about what you want the space to feel like and the materials or colours you might want to incorporate. You can almost never go wrong with decorative lighting, consider the visual weight of a solid black fixture versus a glass fixture, what do you consider to be more important in your space- the colour/material of your accent light or the kitchen behind it?

Q:  What lighting trends do you think are in the works?

We see a lot of light fixtures with different textures and colours coming into our client’s homes. Metal colours (gold, black, bronze) and soft materials (wicker, fabric) are popular for bold designs and textured glass (milk glass, tinted) and wire frames are popular for the barely-there style.


Still overwhelmed at the idea of making all those important design decisions?  That’s why Amsted offers design-build solutions – no one should have to navigate these important choices alone.  Our in-house team of designers work side by side with you to make sure you don’t lose the plot of what matters most to you in the midst of those exciting, but seemingly endless, possibilities.  Contact us to chat with our experts about your vision.