STYLE AT HOME: Great light fixtures shine in your decor

By Mary Carol Garrity | McClatchy-Tribune Published:

I've learned through the years that the right lighting in the right spots transforms a room. So when it came time to select the fixtures for our lake home redo, I followed these three tips to ensure the lighting was a bright spot in my decor:

1. Kitchen lighting should work hard but be beautiful.

I swear the kitchen in my little lake home could have been used as the set for "I Dream of Jeannie." Mid-century modern, I'm sure it was the height of style when it made its debut back in the '50s. But I knew this turquoise tribute to domesticity was not going to work for me.

So my husband, Dan, and I teamed up with an architect to bring this all-important space into this century. His plan included lighting suggestions -- lovely oiled brass fixtures -- that completely nailed my vision for the room.

The lights in your kitchen need to provide the illumination necessary to chop your veggies without cutting your fingers, plus add lots of style. Pendants succeed on both levels, as they offer a contemporary take on a traditional silhouette.

The island is the hub of the kitchen, so it needs a killer focal point. Try an interesting chandelier that will help bring oodles of charm to a traditional kitchen.

When our daughter Kelly decorated her kitchen, she picked a pair of simple, clean chandeliers to brighten up her island. Since you can't change lighting very easily or inexpensively, it's key to pick fixtures that will stand the test of time.

If your kitchen is a neutral color you can pick a fixture that stands out a bit. I'm crazy about the oiled brass finish that's so hot right now. It's warm but not shiny.

2. A little glow makes a room warm and wonderful.

The ceilings are low in my lake house, and the rooms can feel a little dark. So our architect suggested we install library lights over the bookcases in our living room. In the evening, when they are turned on, the lights give the room a warm, welcoming glow, as if we have a dozen candles burning.

Sconces are another classic way of adding a little illumination to a room. My friend Beth employed sconces as an art element over her fireplace. They are a beautiful parentheses to lovely artwork.

Beth's dining room boasts towering ceilings, so she needed some soft lighting to make the area around the table more intimate. She turned once again to sconces.

Kelly picked a pair of classic sconces to frame the mirror in her powder room. They give off a warm light that makes everyone look good.

3. Overhead fixtures should add to the ambiance.

Back in the day, the trend was to pick matching light fixtures for the entire home. Today, the doors are wide open and we're mixing fixtures in a gamut of finishes and styles.

That said, coordinating lighting looks in a particular area makes a design seem cohesive. For instance, since our lake house's kitchen and eating area were going to flow one into the other, I wanted to make sure the lighting all harmonized.

The chandelier over your dining table sets the tone for the entire room. It could be modern and edgy, a great pick for a transitional home, or a unique chandelier for a dining room that is elegant and dramatic.

For a dining room that's light and bright, use a collage of formal and informal pieces that blend together. A rustic lantern works to make such a space feel relaxed and approachable.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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