How To Define Space With Light

How To Define Space With Light

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By Clarissa Allison | February 19th, 2016

Homes with open layouts have risen in popularity of late. Open floor plans foster family interaction and make entertaining at home flow easily. Combining larger spaces also create shared experiences of cooking and eating or even relaxing. That said, those of us who live in lofts or studios can struggle with conveying a sense of free flow and purpose. There are several tried and true ways to relegate within a space, including adding physical privacy screens or strategically placed furniture, using area rugs, adding color, etc. Yet, a space can be perceived in multiple ways depending on the usage of light. Even a smaller, more affordable layout can benefit from the below tips on defining space with light.


Hinkley Lighting 3137 Congress 1 Light Mini-Pendant

Hinkley Lighting 3137 Congress 1 Light Mini-Pendant

A pendant is an easy way to state “this area is a focal point”. They can cast a very direct light or diffuse it into softer light. They range from decorative looks to simple and utilitarian.
Suspending several almost as a constellation above the room is a wonderful way to cast light from above, reinforce your space’s sleek elegance or quietly modern vibe — and avoid the unsightly clutter of cords.

  • Larger fixtures with light or white shades can offer a softening effect overall in a sleek or neutral space.
  • Grouping lights evenly helps to reinforce a linear movement across the space
  • Choose hardware or a finish with a high contrast to the palette of the space to add a detailed flourish that sets your room apart
  • Select a pendant with an artisan glass shade so that it stands out as it’s own object d’art, especially in a minimalist area of your home

Floor lamps

Polished Steel Finish - Lite Source LS-8870PS/WHT Deion Arch Lamp

Polished Steel Finish – Lite Source LS-8870PS/WHT Deion Arch Lamp

Floor lamps are a great option when space is at a premium, especially when hardwired fixtures are not an option. For small spaces, focus instead on performance for task lighting. Your floor lamp should make the area feel larger, brighter and more comfortable.

  • Go for a base that is simple and slim, but has a bulb or shade in a sophisticated silhouette such as a strong drum, that will cast plenty of light for reading or entertaining
  • Find a lamp that has a base with a built in side table to further save on buying additional furniture or introducing needless clutter
  • Swan neck lamps may be directed at objects without taking up lots of space, many have shades painted with enamel to amplify light

If you do have a larger space to zone but only one ceiling point, the arcing floor lamp is now your new best friend. When big and tall enough, it can illuminate the area from above just like a ceiling light. They will pull together the space from above, and the base offers an unobtrusive division between one area to the next.

Wall Sconces

Wall-mounted lighting can work well to define a small area. Sconces work equally well on either side of a bed, establishing it as an important element within the room, or over a small dining table for two to perfectly delineates the space.

  • If you are an apartment dweller or renter look for affordable wall sconce options with adjustable shades.
  • These do not need to be hardwired but simply hung upon the wall, and add versatility and elegance to your space
  • Try an accordion style wall sconce for task lighting
  • Many wall sconces can direct light upwards or downwards. Some even have adjustable swing arms


Know Your Atmosphere, Be Safe, and Branch Out

  1. Be adventurous! If your room is fairly neutral, consider a more unusual lamp to introduce some flair.
  2. Always be aware of the functionality of your light source, items should provide adequate task lighting for reading, cooking and navigating.
  3. Layering different levels of light will give your home a finished look. Experiment with pendants, table lamps, floor lamps, ambient lighting and even mirror lighting.
  4. Consider your existing decor. Lamps will look out of place if they don’t complement the room’s style. Look for fixtures with colors and finishes that are already in the room.
  5. Once you’ve decided on the light styles that complement your home, consider the foot traffic each area receives. Mount anything heavy or potentially dangerous out of the reach of children and pets.  Make sure it is hung properly, so it won’t come loose. Shades or globes made of glass as well as candle wall sconces should be hung at adult eye level and also remain away from bedding and  other flammable objects.

How do you choose the right lighting for your open floor plan? We’d love to see pictures! Please send them to, or contact us toll free at 1877-385-2104 for more tips on defining space with lighting. Your friendly team at Louie Lighting wishes you a safe and wonderful weekend.


How To Define Space With Light

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