My Best Advice on Residential Lighting

Over the years, I have seen some amazing lighting in the homes that I have shown or listed. I have also seen
some big mistakes. I try to learn from my mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others, and am happy to share
some of what I have learned with my readers.
These next few weeks are a great time to purchase lighting for two reasons:
1. There are huge sales out there as lighting stores begin to clear out the old (which is usually only
one or two seasons old) and make room for the newest inventory.
2. We are now at a time of year when it’s still a little chilly, and it’s a little too early to start gardening
so, why not tackle an easy project that will pay off whenever you go to sell or will be something
that will bring you great joy while you continue living in your space.

Do Not Over-Adorn Your Home
I know this is kind of a strange place to start, but I will start here because I think one of the most important
keys to good decorating is to not go overboard. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression Less is More and this is
also true in decorating. Let me explain what that means when you are selecting lighting for your home.
It can be tempting when you find a light fixture you love so much that you want to buy it in every shape and
size for every room of your house. But, please don’t do that!
I want to clarify that I haven’t personally experienced this temptation myself because understand that there is
such a s thing as too much of a good thing, but like I said, I’ve seen lots of mistakes over the years. I even
remember showing a home a few years ago that had been recently updated, and although the listing agent
was selling it as “Fully Updated”, all I could think about is how if purchased that home, I would immediately
take out all of the light fixtures and replace them with something a little less intense. That place looked like
the King of Bling threw up all over it. And, honestly, I can handle intense. You should see what it’s like at my
family reunions! (I’m the youngest of 5 girls and we can get loud.) But, at the end of the day, I think we all
yearn for a little peace and quiet and lighting shouldn’t scream at us, it should put us at ease. Thoughtful
lighting which takes into consideration all of the things there are to weigh out really can create a very peaceful
glow in your home. So, if you’re considering making some lighting changes, do it right.
One other quick note. Perhaps the folks who updated the Blingy house thought they were doing the right
thing by remaining consistent. There is something to be said for consistency. I appreciate it when people
don’t put a different type of flooring in every single room of their house. But, lighting and flooring aren’t the
same thing.
Look at the flooring and the ceiling and the walls as the base, and the lighting as the accessory or the jewelry.
It’s easy on the eyes when colours flow from room to room and when flooring is consistent but it actually
disturbs the flow of the space if you go with what I call too “Matchy Matchy” with your light fixtures. It takes
more time to thoughtfully consider light fixtures that complement each other than fixtures that are an exact
match, but the end result is one that just feels better, and it’s definitely more creative. Sometimes people
don’t even know why it feels better, but they just know when something feels a little off.

Pick a Focal Point, Considering the Style of Your Home
The easiest way to not Over-Adorn your home is to figure out which light fixture is going to be your focal
point. Which one do you want to stand out? If you have too many pieces that feel like they should be focal
points, you are making the same mistake as the people who updated the Blingy house. Figure out which part
or parts of your house that should have a fixture that stands out.
For instance, my husband and I live in a house built in 1912. We may not decorate in an overly traditional
style, but the layout is traditional. In other words, the home is made up of many separate rooms (it is not
Open Concept). However, when we are in our Dining Room, we can look into and see the Living Room, the
Kitchen and the Den. We decided to choose a chandelier in the Dining Room as the most focal light fixture of
our main floor because the Dining Room is in the centre of all of these four rooms.

If we lived in a home that is Open Concept and had a large kitchen that overlooks the Living/Dining Room, the
focal point may be the pendant lights hanging over the Kitchen island. There isn’t a one size fits all approach
to selecting lighting, which is why many people decide to hire an interior decorator to create a customized
lighting plan for them.
When considering what constitutes a focal point in your home, you can and should consider the style of the
home and you can also make exceptions if it makes sense to do so. For instance, we don’t have only one focal
point on our main floor. Our house is not large, but as I mentioned, it has a lot of separate rooms. I think
because of that, it makes sense to make a couple of focal points along the way to tell a story as you’re walking
through the home.

We have chosen another fixture that as a focal point for our entrance, but that fixture really can’t be seen
from anywhere else in the house. It’s the first impression when people walk through the front door. As well,
it’s not the same exact fixture we have hanging in our Dining Room, but there is a common theme throughout
the home, and even if the fixtures may not have all been purchased at the same time, from the same store, or
even come from the same manufacturer, they all work very well with each other and have the same general
feel to them.

I don’t think that Open Concept homes allow for as much opportunity to do that because you can see into so
many different spaces at the same time.

Find Something that Makes You Smile
Organizing Consultant Marie Kondo really had something when she challenged us to ask ourselves (as we
consider what to get rid of and what to keep) whether or not the item sparked joy. Well, I am asking you to
consider whether your light fixtures makes you smile when you look at them. If not, maybe it’s time to
replace them. While you’re shopping, if you don’t smile when you see something, then why bother with the
It may not matter quite as much for certain applications (i.e., quickly getting a house ready for sale and
replacing an ancient or ugly fixture with something a bit more tasteful), but if you are buying for yourself to
enjoy for many years, you don’t need to find something neutral that most people wouldn’t be opposed to.
What you’re really looking for is that one thing that you’d really love. That’s the difference between staging
and decorating.

But, that one thing that you would really love may cost $25,000. You may not want to spend quite that much
for one light fixture. So, obviously, all decisions need to be made within reason considering your budget and
Here’s something that makes me smile…my favourite colour! But, even our favourite colour may not be the
right thing to consider when selecting light fixtures. Red just does it for me, but if I surrounded myself with
too much of it, it would be overkill and I may just get sick of after a while. Perhaps that’s what keeps me
loving red so much, that I give my eye a break from seeing it all the time.
Some Other Important Design Considerations
To keep yourself from Over-Adorning your home, keep in mind the following:
 The Style (i.e., Contemporary, Traditional, Urban/Industrial, Country/Rustic, etc.)
 The Material (i.e., Brass, Glass, Chrome, etc.)
 The Finish (i.e., Polished, Brushed, Distressed, etc.)
The light fixture in my Dining Room is the star of the show. All of the other fixtures in the house complement
it but nothing competes with it. The dining fixture has a number of things going on. First of all, it has an
interesting shape. It’s square, whereas most chandeliers are either round or oblong. It is gold and black in
colour with a white shade in the middle. I love the geometrical shapes on the outside frame. They are fun and
really tie into the Mid-Century Modern/Art Deco decorating style we have chosen for our home. Even the fun
shapes on our wallpaper tie into the same feel of this fixture. Though our home was built in 1912, we wanted
to update it in a way that respects the original woodwork, but we wanted it to feel like the home had been
redecorated a couple of decades later. We really appreciate the quality and architectural style of older

In Closing…
As a Realtor, I try to remind Buyers that changing out light fixtures will make a huge difference in turning a
house into a home. When I am representing Sellers, I try to make some suggestions to help them to show off
their house in the best light (pun intended). Something simple like cheap builder light fixtures, and I hate to
admit this, but even hearing the term “Boob Light” can make me want to hide until the subject has been
My tips for you:
 Don’t be afraid to stray away from builder basic lighting – boob lights really are not in the treasure
chest (no pun intended) of today’s interior decorators anymore.
 Turn up the old Debbie Boone tune “You Light Up My Life” and start getting inspired.
 Once you’ve found what really speaks to you, build a plan around it.
 My personal favourite lighting store in the area is The Lighting Shoppe on Hespeler Road in Cambridge.
Their selection is unmatched. I’ll warn you that it could be a little daunting if you don’t already have a
vision already, so you may want to do some homework first and bring a fashionable friend with you.
 And if you are feeling stuck or if you are worried that you’re going to be overwhelmed, call a
professional first. Keep in mind that some people like myself love to decorate, while the thought of
decorating causes others anxiety. Know yourself enough to know which camp you are in, but either
way, don’t let anything stop you from lighting up your home and your life.


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