Lighting Fixtures 101: Basic Lighting Tips You Need for Your Home

Find out which lights fit best in every corner of your house.

Lighting Fixtures 101: Basic Lighting Tips You Need for Your Home

Find out which lights fit best in every corner of your house.
Photo by Liz Tan

When Lana Del Rey said, “Let the light in,” she couldn’t have been more right. Lighting is essential in spaces not just for its function (duh), but because it can make or break an ambiance. Your home is one light fixture away from screaming chaka or opulence. So don’t cheap out on your lighting strategy if you don’t want your decor endeavors to go to waste!

Don’t know where to start? As always, we’re here to help. Hopefully, this easy checklist can shed light (pun intended) on your situation.

Tip #1: Consider Your Lights

Hindi ukay ang lighting, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. Before anything else, assess the room you’ll be installing lights for. Are they for your living room? Bedroom? Kitchen? The activities in each space are wildly different; the mood you’d want to establish will vary, too. 

That said, you need to be mindful of the lighting requirements for each room. We doubt a lampshade in the kitchen could work. Similarly, a swinging chandelier by your bedside might not be the best idea. Here’s a general overview of the types of lighting you can employ:

  • Ambient lighting is also called general lighting because it says what it does: lighting. It’s the overall illumination and foundational layer of any space. Chandeliers and other ceiling-mounted fixtures are some of your obvious choices.
  • Task lighting provides focused illumination for specific, precision-oriented activities, such as cooking or reading. You’ll probably need it the most in your kitchen or home office. Pendant lights or under-cabinet lighting will be your best friend in these areas.
  • Accent lighting adds focal point and depth. It’s that one versatile friend that shows up just when you need them. You can use accent lighting — e.g. spotlights, pin lights, sconces — to show off artwork, architectural details, and the like.

(P.S. Hindi po kasama ang gaslighting dito. Please save that conversation for your infuriating ex.)

Tip #2: Layer Your Lights

Photos by Frannie Inoferio Nota and Dorothy Mercado

Here’s a lighting tip that’s almost always forgotten: If you want more depth, layering is your friend. Instead of relying solely on one light source, combining all three types of lighting above (i.e. ambient, task, and accent) will take your lighting to a whole new level.

Obviously, layering will enhance functionality, but it’ll also add some drama. You can integrate a mix of lighting fixtures — both bright and dim lights — so you can control the intensity. This allows you to adjust lighting according to the time of day, what activities you’re doing, or your desired ambiance. (Example: Dim for classy, romantic vibes; bright lights for vibrance and photo ops.)

Tip #3: Scale Your Lights

Well-thought-out proportion is a prerequisite for balance. So, if you don’t want your lighting fixtures to look out of place, choose those that complement your space. You wouldn’t put a chandelier in your laundry room or a measly pin light in a parlor, right? 

The rule of thumb is to consider the overall visual weight — not only for the light fixtures, but also for the size of the room and the furniture around it. So, whether you’re planning to affix a chandelier or a table lamp, make sure it’s appropriately sized. Bonus tip: If you already have a statement piece or two in the room, forego the chandelier.

Tip #4: Right Your Light (Bulbs)

Kung merong bright lights, meron ding right lights. (Ano daw?) Basically, the type of bulbs you choose will impact both the quality of light and energy efficiency. We know you know it already, but some bulbs are tipid-kuryente than others. These are the most common ones, each with its own pros and cons:

  • Incandescent lights are the “traditional bulbs,” a.k.a. the light that Mr. Thomas Edison patented almost a century ago. (Who invented it is a mystery we’ll leave to the experts.) Of course, they provide a warm and inviting light, but they’re less energy-efficient than newer alternatives.
  • LED bulbs are the “it girl” now if you’re keeping up with home trends. Energy-efficient and long-lasting, they provide any and all kinds of lighting, from ambient to task lighting. They also come in various colors, the most popular ones being warm white, cool white, and daylight.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are your other potential bestie regarding energy efficiency. They last very long and don’t produce much heat. However, they can be costly and contain mercury, which isn’t great for your health. They’re also typically cooler in color, which may not be ideal in certain settings.

Weigh out the pros and cons for each type before you purchase and commit. Make sure to consider your choices in a long-term sense, too — huwag magpadala sa mas murang bilhin.

Tip #5: Let Your Light Shine!

Finally, perhaps most importantly, don’t forget that your style matters. When you plan and conceptualize, look at your lighting and fixtures in the bigger picture. There are no rules when it comes to home decor, but a uniform style is easier to work with. Whether your concept is traditional, contemporary, or eclectic, try to see that your light matches it.

Additionally, you can use the lighting fixture as a statement piece. And no, it doesn’t have to be a chandelier (though that’s always a good idea)! Smaller, less “overbearing” lights like floor lamps or pendant lights can be a focal point. 

Got any lighting learnings to share with us? Don’t forget to tell us in the Home Buddies Facebook community!

This article has multiple parts
Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3