From grand chandeliers to sculptural sconces, statement lighting truly makes a space. Unfortunately, old-fashioned interior design rules have dissuaded homeowners from embracing the statement-making pieces that would illuminate and elevate their interiors. In reality, any space can — and should — feature a stunning light fixture. Read along as we debunk seven myths about statement lighting and offer statement lighting ideas inspired by recent LUDC projects.
What is Statement Lighting?
Statement lighting is lighting that serves as a focal point rather than fading into the background. In every space our team designs, we always include bold statement lights. The larger the scale of the statement light, the better! There is a practical purpose for nearly every element in one’s home. However, that doesn’t mean a lighting fixture should be subtle or go unnoticed. Contrary to popular belief, statement lighting ideas come in all shapes, sizes and styles. A petite table lamp can add just as much visual interest as a trio of pendant lights.
Different Types of Lighting
As we will explain in further detail towards the end of this post, layered lighting is always a must. Every space should include a mix of general and accent lighting — with task lighting added wherever needed. Follow below for an explanation of each type of lighting to feature in your home.
First we have general lighting. Also called “ambient lighting,” general lighting gently brightens an entire space. Often a chandelier, set of pendant lights or recessed overhead lights, general lighting serves as the foundation for any lighting program.
For example, the Jonathan Browning Studio Rameau Linear Chandelier pictured above serves as general lighting in the dining room of our Braeswood Place project. This chandelier hovers above a custom El Dorado Wood live-edge tabletop with a brass ModShop base.
Perhaps you are designing a colorful living room or a muted primary bath. Regardless, each and every space can benefit from the natural glow general lighting provides.
As you may have already guessed, task lighting is directional lighting that illuminates a specific surface, corner or nook in a larger space. Task lighting can be accomplished with a properly positioned wall sconce, an angled floor lamp or a table lamp.
Even a single pendant light could serve as task lighting. The options are endless. For example, the task lamp pictured above is from the hunting lodge bar of our recent Hedwig Village project.
It might seem romantic to read a book in bed or sift through work files by the light of a single candle. However, task lighting needs the base provided by general lighting to be safe, effective and aesthetically pleasing.
Without a gentle glow in the background, task lighting can strain your eyes or cramp your neck. Plus, a single light source simply punctuates the space, while a combination of task, accent and general lighting balances the space.
Lastly, accent lighting provides another layer of lighting that adds depth and complexity to your space. Some interior designers refer to accent lighting as “highlighting” because it is often used to illuminate a shelf, artwork or piece of furniture.
Floor lamps, wall sconces, picture lights and integrated lighting are all commonly employed as accent lighting. The dual candle and crystal sconce pictured above illuminates a console table in the entryway of the Hedwig Village home we recently renovated.
Debunking Seven Myths About Statement Lighting
As noted above, conventional wisdom dictates how many homeowners — and even an interior designer or two — pick the perfect light fixtures. At the Laura U Design Collective, our team has been pushing the envelope for more than a decade. We know that statement lighting has the power to totally transform your home and believe most of these “rules” are actually myths.
Classic crystal chandeliers and modern pendant lighting both pack a punch, but so do mammoth floor lamps and unconventional wall sconces. Impactful indoor lighting is essential, but outdoor lighting can be artful and should never be an afterthought. Follow along as we debunk a few myths — and break the rules a bit!
#1 Only Chandeliers Make a Major Impact
First on our list is that only chandeliers make a major impact, while table lamps, floor lamps and wall sconces are secondary. This could not be further from the truth. Statement lighting is achievable no matter the size of your space or the type of fixture you select. Pendant, wall and nightstand lights can all function as statement accent lighting — even in cramped spaces.
Just take a look at the Kaleen Sculptural Resin Floor Lamp from Made Goods pictured above in the study of our University Place project. Does that piece not make a statement with its swirling conical base, impressive height and monochromatic appeal?
The point of statement lights is usually to evoke a reaction, create a mood or draw attention. Given this, how could the orange integrated lighting in the bookshelf pictured above not count? The aforementioned walnut bookshelf sits next to an asymmetrical fireplace surround from Cosentino and a mixed-media piece by Nina Tichava. All are from the library of our Braeswood Place project.
#2 Large Statement Lighting Only Works in Sizable Spaces
Just as a graphic wallpaper or patterned textile can work in small spaces, so can large statement lighting. The key is to opt for statement lighting with clean lines, clear elements or lots of negative space. For example, a light with a clear acrylic shade or a glass globe pendant has structure and style. However, it lacks the appearance of too much weight, which can quickly overpower a small room. Ralph Lauren’s Julian Pendant from Lumens — pictured above in the lower center right — is a perfect example.
A large statement light fixture with lots of negative space can also work well in a small space. Hudson Valley Lighting’s Austen Chandelier — pictured above in the formal sitting room of our Colonial Drive project — combines clean lines with negative space. This combination makes it the ideal fixture for spaces with less square footage. Dynamic, sculptural pieces like the Brass and Glass Globe Triple Circuit Pendant Light from 1stDibs pictured above in the lower right are equally ideal.
#3 Dramatic Lighting Isn’t Possible With a Low Ceiling
Another myth is that dramatic overhead lighting — like a grand chandelier or bold pendant — simply isn’t possible in rooms with low ceilings. It is true that a tiered chandelier might not work well above a sofa or stairs in a home with low ceilings. However, there are spaces with low ceilings in which that stunning pendant light or cascading chandelier can thrive. Best of all, they can wow without knocking you or your guests over the head.
Simply opt for a shorter, flatter light fixture. For example, we chose an Arteriors Linus Starburst Chandelier for the study in our Viscaino project. This next fixture has lots of volume and interest but also boasts a horizontal orientation that will not bump any heads. Hudson Valley Lighting’s Paige Chandelier was perfect for the girls’ bedroom in our Colonial Drive project.
Alternatively, hang your statement piece over a dining table or kitchen island. Unless you plan to stand on your dining table or sit on your kitchen island, that gorgeous chandelier should not pose a problem.
#4 All Light Fixtures Must Match
The next myth is that all fixtures must match and only one can be statement-making. The others should be subtle. You can see from the dining room and primary bedroom of our Viscaino project, that this is simply not the case. Not only are all the fixtures different, but each is striking in its own way.
In the dining room, we chose fixtures made from contrasting wood and brass. The twisty wall lights in the dining room are antique brass Continuum Collection sconces by Avram Rusu Studio from 1stDibs. On the ceiling is a natural oak Workstead Lodge flush-mount light and a mostly black Brendan Ravenhill chandelier.
We mixed metals, materials, textures and tones in the primary suite too. Yet there is still continuity from corner to corner and one room to the next. We chose an Austen Large Dual Function Floor Lamp in Matte White finish from Circa and an organic tiered drum chandelier for the ceiling. For the bedside, we chose a mercury glass Arteriors Anderson Lamp for the bedside.
The tiered chandeliers in the primary bed and bath are quite distinct — providing the perfect amount of contrast. At the same time, their similar shape creates a soothing rhythm.
#5 Table Lamps & Wall Sconces Are Your Only Nightstand Lighting Options
Fifth on our list of myths about bold lighting is that table lamps and wall sconces are your only nightstand lighting options. As you can see in the images above, we love disproving this lighting myth.
If you lack space on your nightstand for a table lamp or cannot disrupt a delicate wallpaper with a wall sconce, don’t despair. You can opt for pendant lights instead! Just make sure all your bedroom lights are dimmable to avoid waking your partner or straining your eyes while reading in bed.
#6 It Doesn’t Matter What Indoor Lighting Looks Like from Outside
When choosing light fixtures for a space with floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto your yard, think about how they will look from outside. We installed a trio of two-tone pendant lights from Circa Lighting above the island in the pool house of our Braeswood Place project.
The height and scale of these pendants was not accidental. From the backyard, our clients and their guests can see these statement-making lights hovering just below the pool house’s exterior siding. This adds a romantic glow to the backyard while making the entire space feel cozy.
#7 Only Indoor Lighting Can Be Statement Lighting
The final myth about how you can design with statement lighting is that only indoor lighting can make an impact. However, the exterior is every guest’s first impression of and experience with your home. As such, the light fixtures, driveway, windows and front door you choose are all an introduction to your aesthetic and personal style.
When choosing the light fixtures for our Hedwig Village project, we took the opportunity to create some continuity between exterior and interior. The brick, arches and other antique accents in this home also extend from exterior to interior.
Before You Design with Statement Lighting…
As you come up with statement lighting ideas of your own and start the search for your perfect piece, don’t forget about functionality. Be sure to consider the color temperature of your bulbs and outfit each fixture with a dimmer. And remember: of all the statement lighting ideas on our list, the most important is to layer lighting!
In Search of More Statement Lighting Ideas?
Check out our project archive for more inspiration. You might also read through “Statement lighting is the jewelry of your room,” in which we explain how to design with statement lighting. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below and subscribe to our newsletter to get design tips straight to your inbox!