Experts Convey Trends in Lighting
The top trend in decorative lighting has little to do with style, shape or shade choices. Instead, it focuses on the new mindset of the consumer.
“People have realized you’re not buying just a lamp or a sconce or a chandelier — you’re buying an accessory that lights up,” says designer Sergio Orozco.
Decorative lighting rates today as one of the best accessories you can buy. “If chosen correctly, it is as important to a room as your best piece of furniture,” says Orozco, a New York-based furniture and lighting designer. “It reflects your taste and adds the finishing touch.”
Fixed or portable, lighting has become an all-important interior design feature. “Homeowners are beginning to seek out lighting as decorative elements,” says Jody DeVine marketing communications manager for Sea Gull Lighting Products, the New Jersey-based lighting manufacturer.
According to the experts at the American Lighting Association (ALA), there are three major movements:
CASUAL ELEGANCE continues the creation of warm, relaxed and cozy environments, with casual lighting that is a little more upscale in design.
SOFT CONTEMPORARY is still, clean, modern and simple in style. While architectural in design, these fixtures are no longer cold.
SIMPLIFIED TRADITIONAL removes the excess. “While still a traditional look, this look is not ornate,” says Orozco. “There is now a simplification. Decorative lighting here may still be solid brass, but stripped down and rich with an antique patina.”
In step with home decor trends, the lighting industry is experiencing an explosion of design options and material combinations. “Eclectic is really the word that best reflects the range of colors, styles, shapes and sizes of decorative lighting available,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, educational consultant for the American Lighting Association and assistant professor of interior design at the University of Kentucky.
This season’s savviest styles have common design elements. “There has been a big move recently to more daring designs and material combinations — wrought iron with crystal, polished brass with colored glass,” says Rey-Barreau. “At the same time, traditional product is still available. Today, if you want a Williamsburg polished brass fixture, you can find it. But if you are looking for a Murano glass medusa head with a low voltage bulb to light up a room, you can find that, too!”
Finishes range from rich and refined to lustrously weathered. “We are moving away from shiny brass and china to more burnished, brushed and hand painted finishes,” says DeVine.
Hand painted doesn’t mean simply white enamel with painted flowers. Instead, think multi-toned finishes with depth and texture — layers of color; hand-rubbed, burnished metal; finishes flecked with gold or silver and rubbed so color shines through.
“There is also a move toward heavy iron, and rust finishes are still important as is oil-rubbed bronze,” says Kevin Herdt, Certified Lighting Consultant for Austin Bluffs Lighting, a Colorado lighting showroom. “Amber glass is becoming more a preference for homeowners, as well.”
Other fresh features to look for in decorative lighting include:
LARGER SIZE FIXTURES: “More large-size fixtures is a result of the move to larger homes,” says Rey-Barreau. “Homes with large interior volumes need larger lights and the industry has complied.”
CHANDELIER RESURGENCE: Once confined to dining rooms and entry halls, chandeliers are hanging around almost any room in the house. “The trend is back to light in the center of the room,” says Rey-Barreau. “As a result, you are seeing chandeliers everywhere — bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, hallways — anywhere one will fit.”
QUALITY MATERIALS: The focus shifts to the real deal as consumers opt for true glass instead of plastic, stainless steel instead of aluminum. Look for beautiful marble, supple leathers and tactile iron.
LOWER COST: A benefit of recent manufacturing trends is the deflation of price in decorative lighting fixtures. “What cost $1,500 five years ago may be found today for $900,” says Rey-Barreau. “At the same time, there are incredible lamps available for $30.”
ENERGY EFFICIENCY: From adding dimmers to using the latest low-voltage bulbs, consumers are looking to save energy when they can. Cost-effective fluorescent bulbs become more important in all aspects of lighting.
Few things make as much design impact on a room as the right lighting. Whether you choose a portable lamp or installed fixture, decorative lighting melds the best in home fashion with a function. To help you make the most of your decorative lighting, the experts at the American Lighting Association (ALA) offer the following ideas for illuminating your home — no matter what your budget.
FOCUS POCUS: Put lighting to work creating focal points. Add lights to direct the eye in a new direction by focusing on a piece of art, furniture or the mantel.
MOVE IT: Simply moving portable lighting around to new areas can create dramatic differences. Adding or subtracting light from parts of a room creates drama.
COLOR IT BEAUTIFUL: A coat of paint and well-placed lighting can completely change a room. Fresh paint can give an old fixture new look or create the opportunity to add new fixtures to anchor or complement the color.
DIM SOME: Dimmers are another inexpensive trick-of-the-trade. They help set a special mood in the home by allowing you to manipulate the light. Install them at the wall for ceiling fixtures and even buy them for table lamps.
MADE WITH THE SHADE: Today’s shades are made of a variety of shapes, textures and designs. Top off an old fixture with a smart new shade for a fresh look. Add lampshades to chandeliers, or take off the existing lampshades for a fresh face.
START SMALL: You don’t have to redo the whole room to get a whole new look. Dress up fixtures with accessories like candle sleeves, garland or cloth over the chain.
SPACE CASE: Add more drama to a space with accent lighting — illuminate the top a bookcase, add under cabinet lighting or hang a colored pendant over the kitchen island. “You can create islands of light that bring the grain of wood or the print of the wallpaper or the color of a wall to life,” says lighting designer Sergio Orozco.
TABLE IT: “Table lamps are so important, but often ignored,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, ALA director of continuing education. “They are critical to design, they are at eye level and we touch them daily. Move them around the room. If you buy small ones, you can put them on shelves. They make a room more visually complex.”
QUALITY COUNTS: No matter what your budget, opt for timeless materials like bronze and glass over their plastic counterparts. Timeless designs in top materials will always look right and can become family heirlooms.
TEST IT: Try before you buy. “In most instances, you can take a lamp home, try it and bring it back if it doesn’t work,” says lighting designer Sergio Orozco. “Exchange it for one that doesn’t reflect on your glass table or has a different shade.”
DO YOUR HOMEWORK: There is a wealth of information on the Internet, particularly in lighting and decor. Review your options–from energy-saving innovation to the latest style trend–research new product information to find what will work best for your home or office design. Consult with lighting professionals to help customize a plan that will illuminate and enhance your environment effectively, efficiently and decoratively.
Visit a Capitol Lighting showroom or 1800lighting.com for professional lighting advice or a complementary lighting plan customized to your specifications.