Light fixtures are one of my favorite things to choose for a home. They can be statement-makers or play a supporting role to other pieces in a room. One question I get asked pretty frequently is how do you choose light fixtures that coordinate with each other? This question comes up particularly in the context of open floor plans when you can see multiple light fixtures throughout out the space. Since so many of us have homes these days where this is the case - whether it’s a living room that’s open to the dining room, a kitchen that opens up to the dining room, or even where it’s ALL open (like our new house!).
There are so many different directions you can go and the combinations you can choose are endless, but my goal today is to keep things simple and offer a few “tricks” and guidelines you can follow when you’re picking light fixtures for your home. It’s nice to have a cohesive general scheme throughout your home (e.g. flushmounts, pendants, and chandeliers), even if you don’t have an open floor plan. Setting a few “boundary conditions” will help guide you as you go about finding new fixtures and narrow your search so you don’t get overwhelmed by the options…there are a lot out there!
I’ll explain a little bit about what I mean by setting boundary conditions below, but the general gist is that you want to create a lighting plan before you start shopping. If you’d like to see a few examples of what some lighting plans could look like, I’ve got three ready to go for you in three different metal finishes: brass, black, and polished nickel! Each plan includes a variety of fixture types that can work in various rooms in your home. Once you select a few to start with, you can add other fixtures to fill in the gaps as needed.
How to create a whole home lighting plan:
1. Start by making a list of the fixtures you need.
Take a walk through your home and figure out where you need new light fixtures and what kind you need like flush mounts, sconces, chandeliers, pendants, etc. Don’t forget about bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways!
You’ll find that some spaces can only accommodate one kind of fixture and others are more flexible. For example, if you have 8’ ceilings, you may only be able to use flush mounts - or maybe a semi-flush mount - for overhead lighting in a lot of your rooms, so that means you can narrow your search and exclude fixtures like low-hanging pendants or chandeliers (except for over a dining table of course!).
During this step, you’ll also want to figure out if you need any electrical work done - do you need to move a junction box or add any new ones? If you do, I’d suggest finding your fixture first so that you can get the placement right. This is especially true for things like island pendants and wall sconces. For most “regular” overhead fixtures, this matters less. You’ll likely just center them in the space.
2. Determine the general style/design direction of your fixtures.
Use your decorating style as a guide for choosing your light fixtures. Don’t know your style? Pinterest is a great place to start! I also wrote up a post recently on using Instagram to define your style, so you can head over and give that a read if IG is your jam.
Once you’ve got that figured out, the easiest thing to do is to stick to light fixtures that fit nicely into those style categories and keep the theme going throughout your home. There are certainly ways to make a more eclectic mix work beautifully, but I think for most people, keeping it simple is a key to success!
3. Pick your metal finish.
I love mixing metals, but if you don’t feel confident doing that or prefer to stick to a single finish, just choose one and carry that throughout your home! You’ll see that I did that in my example whole house lighting plan starters, and you really can’t go wrong with that.
Metal finishes can be a little tricker to match than you might think, so I’ve got a couple of “watch outs” for you as you choose one:
Make sure the sheen is the same. If you choose nickel for example, I’d go with all polished or all brushed. If you mix them, even though they’re technically the same color, it won’t look right - just trust me on that!
Blacks aren’t always black. Many, many fixtures that look black in photos are actually an oil-rubbed bronze. And to make it more confusing, some fixtures that are labeled as oil-rubbed bronze or antique bronze actually look like matte black. Ugh! Just be sure to pay close attention and look at closeups of the fixtures to see what the true finish is. Reviews can help too.
Polished nickel and chrome are different (don’t mix them!). It may seem like a silver metal is a silver metal, but that’s not the case! Polished nickel has a warm undertone and chrome has a cool undertone. You see chrome a lot in kitchen and bath fixtures - less so in lighting. Nickel is a lot more common. I have a bias for polished nickel over brushed generally these days because sometimes brushed nickel can look cheap if it’s not done well. That’s just a personal preference though!
4. Choose fixtures with similar “lines” and “feels.”
I’ll admit, this part is more of an art, so it’s not as straightforward to understand! Generally, if you can echo design elements from one fixture to another, that’s going to help a ton with a cohesive look.
For example, if your dining room chandelier is minimalist with a curvy shape like the one I have in my matte black lighting plan below, you might choose island pendants that are also minimalist and have a bit of a curve to them. The simple pendants I included in that same plan are just that. See how the top part has a curve to it? That’s what I mean by having similar lines and feels. If you have any questions about that, I’d be happy answer them!
All right, so with all of that in mind, here are my three starter guides for light fixtures! I’ve got flush mounts, semi-flush mounts, chandeliers, pendants, single wall sconces, and vanity lights. What I love about these is that they all work well together, and you can mix and match them throughout your home! I hope they’re helpful as you’re shopping for your own home.
Whole Home Lighting Plan: Brass
Swoop Arm Minimalist Chandelier | Black 2 Light Flush Mount | Modern Cylinder Mini Pendant | 4 Light Square Lantern | Swing Arm Sconce With Shade | 3 Light Farmhouse Vanity Light | Globe Glass Semi-Flush Mount | Conical Drum Shade/Metal Semi-Flush Mount
(Note that some of these fixtures are listed as oil-rubbed bronze or antique bronze, but read as black as far as I can tell!)
Whole Home Lighting Plan: Polished Nickel
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