Secret No. 1: Light in Layers. In addition to natural light, every room should have three kinds of light, said Murphy: ambient, task and accent. Many homeowners throw a couple lights on the ceiling and call it enough. It’s not. Ambient light is your all-around light, and often comes from recessed cans or ceiling fixtures. Task lighting is dedicated to a space where you work or read; think of desk lamps, or lamps by reading areas, or under cabinet lighting over kitchen counters. Accent lighting highlights artwork, accessories or architectural features like the fireplace. The magic happens in the layering. “When these three layers work together with natural light, you have the perfect scenario,” he said.
Secret No. 2: Go big or don’t go. Choosing fixtures that are too small is the most common mistake homeowners make, said Murphy. “Most customers need to scale up.” For instance, when picking fixtures to go beside the front door, or to flank the garage, fixtures should be one third the height of the door. If the door is nine feet tall, the fixture should be three feet. When choosing a chandelier, use this formula: add the length and width of the room in feet, then convert to inches. That’s how big you want your fixture. So a 12-by-14-foot dining room should have a 26-inch wide chandelier. Ideally, this fixture is also about 12 inches narrower than the width of the table, and allows at least four feet of clearance from walls.