Shedding light on illuminating a home

Need some help sorting out your lighting needs and how it all fits into your decor?  Check out these tips in my Home Inspirations column in the Fort Myers News-Press. 

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• April 6, 2013

"How to" books have been written about the proper way to light a home.

And yet, if you are like most homeowners, you have rooms filled with lamps, sconces, ceiling lights and chandeliers. Still, it doesn't seem to be quite right.

Addie pendants from Ballard Designs

Marcel Shades from Ballard Designs.

Marcel Shades from Ballard Designs.

The generously sized shade of this mouth-blown glass pedant light was inspired by a vintage jar. Hang it above an island, breakfast bar or work area for  casual style.

Lighting is much more than functional. It has become a major design element in our homes. It can add the pop that you need to accent a room or it can fade into the background. Done well, lighting can totally change a room. Either way, some basic tips will help to select the type of lighting that is needed and to make it part of your decorating plan.

What every room needs:

With these Marcel lamp shades from Ballard Designs, create a custom look with your lamp bases. Ambient lighting

Sunlight during the daylight hours. Floor and table lamps throughout the room. Cove lighting or recessed lights. Goal is to enhance the light of the rooms with low levels.

Task lighting

Provides direct light pointed towards tasks. In the kitchen, recessed lights point down to illuminate the counters. Decorative pendants can also add character to a space as well as provide functional task lighting.  For example, multiples pendants can light as kitchen island counters.

Accent Lighting

It can add drama or a mood to a room. Accent lighting emphasizes a particular object, such as a painting, in order to draw attention to it. Recessed spot lights pointed at the wall can highlight paintings. Pinpoint pot lights can emphasize a porcelain or china collection

Carson Rod pendant from Rejuvenation Lighting and Home Parts.

Carson Rod pendant from Rejuvenation Lighting and Home Parts.

How to do it:

In the living room, light three of the four corners with a combination of table lamps and floor lamps.  Reading in as many seats as possible is done with down-glowing lamps on three-way switches. And if you have an overhead fixture, use a dimmer.

In a dining room, the light over the table should be the brightest spot in the room. Use a chandelier or a pendant above the table on a dimmer. For the rest of the room: indirect lighting is best. It's calming and most important, flattering!  Place a pair of small table lamps on a buffet or try matching sconces on the wall.

Carson rod pendant This shapely pendant meets the need for industrial-strength, durable lighting in large spaces. Photo courtesy of Rejuvenation Lighting and House Parts.In the kitchen, overhead lighting is most important. Place it on dimmer to turned up when cooking and down when done.  Also use a combination of pendants, under-cabinet lights and/or a lamp.

In the bedroom,  place reading lamps or sconces by the bed. Plug-ins and lights that are on a swinging arm are very handy if nightstand space is limited.  And don't forget candles!

In the bathroom, think sidelights. We all know from staying in poorly lighted hotel rooms overhead lights alone are the worst for applying makeup. A pair of pretty sconces flanking the mirror works well and an overhead light will fill in shadows on your face and light  the room.  And don't forget a light directly over the shower.

Favorite sources:

Rejuvenation ( provides timeless, made-to-order lighting that allows customers to select their finish, style, shade, length and amount of light. From industrial to arts and crafts revival to mid century modern living, this is a great source to add some creative lighting to your home. Go online and build a fixture. It is fun!

Ballard Designs ( offers collections of floor and table lamps designed to mix and match a broad selection of Couture Shades so you can create a custom look in any room for an affordable price. Floor lamps come in a variety of styles and finishes, including adjustable floor lamps that telescope and swivel for maximum light control.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Her column, Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips and photos, visit