Illuminate Your Space: Lighting Fixtures for Form and Function

Choosing new lighting for a room is the quickest way to change the way it looks and feels. You're likely to come by a number of different lighting categories when you go browsing through the options available at the store. Here's a quick introduction to the different basic lighting varieties that you should be aware of as you go shopping.

Chandeliers

Whether elaborate or simple, chandeliers are able to bring focus to any room that they are installed in. While these fixtures have traditionally belonged in living rooms and dining rooms, interior designers today make good use of them in bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms. Chandeliers can contribute beauty and grandeur to any room whose size and decor are able to handle the effect of a chandelier.

Many modern chandeliers are designed with practicality in mind. If you want a chandelier for your kitchen island, for instance, you can choose a model that is equipped with down lights. These can work as task lighting for anyone working at the kitchen island. Fabric-shaded chandeliers can be a good idea in bedrooms - they can provide muted lighting.

Foyer lights

Foyer or hall lights can be as elaborate or as simple as you prefer. If you have a large foyer with towering windows, elaborate chandelier-like foyer lights that can hold their own could be a good idea. In a smaller and more modest foyer, simple shaded lights can offer a tasteful design touch and enough lighting to allow guests to see their way to the living room. If your foyer has paintings and mirrors, you can use foyer lights to frame and show off each wall-hanging, too.

Pendants

Pendant lights are designed with shades of different kinds and are hung low on long cables. The fact that these lights hang low and are close to eye level encourages lighting designers to try many creative shade designs. From stainless steel bell-like covers to colorful paper and fabric designs, you can find a pendant for practically any design need or application. As task lighting, bedside lighting or a replacement for a table lamp, pendants save space and bring lighting exactly where it's needed.

Ceiling-mount lights

Lighting fixtures that are mounted close to the ceiling are a good idea for general-purpose ambient lighting over large spaces. These fixtures can be ornate and beautifully shaded for bedrooms and other places where such design touches are called for. When employed for use in a bathroom, laundry room or hallway, though, they can be simple in design. Since ceiling lamps are used for general purpose lighting, they tend to stay on for many hours each day. Choosing LED lights for household lamps mounted on the ceilings can help you save a considerable amount of energy.

Wall mount

Wall-mounted fixtures remind people of the array of lights that they've seen lining the hallways of historical buildings. Installed slightly above eye level, these fixtures are good for supplemental lighting and accent lighting needs. Wall-mounted lighting fixtures are often used on home theater walls and other places that benefit from soft, indirect lighting.

Track and rail lighting

Lighting fixtures mounted on tracks and rails offer lighting design flexibility. When you have lights installed on tracks over the length of a room, you get to use the track to move your lights from one part of the room to another for different lighting effects. Rail lighting offers even more flexibility - you can install rails along curved paths.

Portable

Even track and rail lights only offer limited flexibility. You can't move these lights to parts of your room that your rails don't go to. Investing in a set of portable lights - tall floor lamps, table lamps and lighting trees - is likely to give you the flexibility to meet unplanned needs. Whether you need a light next to a recliner that you've decided to pull up by a window or close to your bed where you have chosen to spend the day working, portable lights offer you the power of flexibility.

Alan Rosinski is passionate about interior design. He enjoys blogging about the practical details of home design and maintenance.