Decorating UNschool: Lighting

First up in my new series (you can read the intro here):  Let’s talk about lighting.  I started with this because I love this topic and could talk about it for hours.

I avoid turning on ceiling lights if at all possible- ESPECIALLY if they are flourescent. I would prefer a lamplit or sunlit room over an artificial overhead bulb any day.  You know that feeling you get after being in Walmart for too long?  Too crowded, too busy, too much walking.  It makes my eyes water and my head hurt. And then you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and yikes!  Yep, time to go home.

Now, have you ever been in an Anthropologie?  Generally you’ll just find me window shopping… but its the ambiance for me, the smells, the warmth, the lighting, that draw me inside.  Both places are consumer driven and buy buy buy, but something about the second one has tricked me into feeling like I’m home.

Lighting has great power.

Kitchens & Dining Rooms

I’ve said this before, but I don’t believe a light fixture over a table or island can be too big.  I think bigger is ALWAYS better.  Are you considering a light fixture for your dining room table and not sure which size to get?  Always go bigger.  You won’t regret it.  As The Nester just wrote after recently switching out a wimpy chandelier “…now my table doesn’t look forgotten if its cleared off- it looks just right because the chandelier commands so much attention that I don’t need much else.”

Nester's Dining Room


When you have great and large lighting, you don’t need much else cluttering up the space.  It speaks for itself.  So why not, instead of filling the space with those smaller things to get it to feel right, just save up for that one big light fixture?

The same goes for kitchen islands.  I talked about it before in this post, but when I was working on the Montgomery House, we went back and forth on whether or not to spend more money on countertops or put the money into the lighting.  After realizing the countertops would be laying down flat and the lighting would be commanding our attention from every angle in the room, it made the decision easy.

The Montgomery House - Kitchen Small_0 WM

These are the large Eldridge pendants from Ballard Designs.  It just wouldn’t be the same if we had gone with the mediums!

Generally, chandeliers should hang about 30-35″ above a table, and in my opinion to just above eye level over an island.  Lower and bigger are the way to go!

Here’s another one that I love, from designer Lauren Liess.

Lauren Liess Dining Room

I love all the contrast in this one as well.  Notice how the dark chandelier balances out the dark table.  And its so large and hung so very low.  But all of the darkness is balanced out so well by the chairs, the curtains, and the light walls.

Here are some more examples:



HOF_Breakfast Room Small-3

source (my house)





Bedrooms & Living Rooms

Now, I live in the depths of humidity near a little town called Houston, TX and unfortunately for us we need ceiling fans in our bedrooms and living rooms.  Its just one of the decorating downfalls of living here which you know what I mean if you’ve ever experienced August here.  Or even January for that matter (my ceiling fan is running at this very moment).  So if I were building a home from scratch here, I would put in recessed lights in the living and bedroom (on dimmer switches), and then I would put in a simple white ceiling fan with no lights on it that would fade away into a white ceiling.  Add in to that lots of table and even floor lamps around the room and that would be my perfect lighting equation.

Because we didn’t build our house from scratch, we spray painted our brassy ceiling fan white, replaced the tacky light globes with more simple ones and called it a day.  I still start to twitch whenever that light actually gets turned on and try to rely as much as I can on the one recessed light in the living room and the lamps around the room.

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that you are not in need of a ceiling fan to keep from melting away in the summertime year-round, you get the exciting opportunity to consider a light fixture in your bedroom or living room!  I love this especially in bedrooms, as it can add to a romantic feeling with a beautiful chandelier.  Remember- bigger is always better!

This one is a beauty from Lauren Liess.  So daring and bold, but I love it!

Lauren Liess Living Room

Simo Design Living Room






Bedroom chandelier lighting



Generally the same rule of “bigger is better” applies here as well.  I just love a big lamp that is a piece of art on its own.  Especially in a pair- that is a lovely find!  I love to look for lamps with a curvy traditional base and a modern drum shaped shade.  Its just my thing for contrast.

Dark lamp shades lighting


Blue Lamps Lighting


I’m in love with this giant floor lamp below!!

Studio McGee Lighting


So in short, no wimpy light fixtures!

Of course, every once in a while rules are meant to be broken and you will find something that just works but doesn’t at all fit into this “bigger is better” idea.  I found several of them while I was looking for pictures for this post.  Why is that??  Its just because there are no hard and fast rules here!  In general, I have found that bigger light fixtures and lamps tend to look better.  But you have the freedom in your own home to try and to do what you want!  That’s why this is decorating UNschool.

Now, go forth and light!

xoxo Bethany

p.s. Let me know in the comments any other areas you’d like me to cover in this series!  I always love hearing from you!!


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9 Responses to Decorating UNschool: Lighting

  1. Tabaitha Kaye January 21, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    The orb in the bedroom is the exact one we selected for our entry way in the house we are building. I love it!

    • Bethany January 22, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

      I love that, Tabaitha!!

  2. Rebekah January 21, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

    Love this. So helpful for the real woman trying to diy!

    • Bethany January 22, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

      So glad to hear it was helpful! 🙂

  3. Holly January 30, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    Thank you! About a year ago, I bought a big orb light to put over my dining room table, and I love it. It’s big and makes a statement. I’ve always wondered what I should put on my table, and you described it perfectly. Sometimes you just don’t need anything. I’ve already make a statement with the light. Love this series!

  4. Andrea August 13, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    What light bulbs do you recommend for lamps?


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