Coastal Living: The Lowdown on Lighting

how to light a home

In design, it’s the details that matter and none can have more impact than thoughtful, strategically placed lighting.  Lighting affects the ambiance and mood of a space; a well-lighted home is like a design facelift. When done well, it can make every element look its best.

We are here to help you get started with understanding the different type of lighting and how to use them in your space. Stay until the end to explore some not-to-miss trends in lighting, too!

how to light a home

How to Light a Home

Types Of Lighting

Understanding how to improve the lighting in your coastal home starts with understanding three basic types of lighting.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting, which is the general lighting of a room, should be considered first. Is the current main light in a room sufficient? Are there shadows? Dark areas or sections that are too bright? The goal of ambient lighting is to make a room easy on the eyes in all areas. Typically ambient lighting is provided through recessed lighting, chandeliers, sconces or any other fixed light sources in a room.

Tip: When installing ambient lighting, consider adding dimmers throughout to balance natural light with the need for enhanced lighting or to achieve a certain mood. how to light a home


Task Lighting

Once you have your ambient lighting to your liking, it is time to think about task lighting. Certain areas of your room may need to have access to additional light sources to get work done. For instance, you may want to put a lamp on a desk or a table for reading or directional lights above prep areas for cooking.

Some additional ideas for task lighting are lamps; desk, swing arm, and floor lamps are just a few examples. Use lamps on your desks, bedside tables, coffee tables or anywhere you need a little extra light for working.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is the final type of lighting. The key to accent lighting is to remember that it is there, not to be seen, but to draw the eye to an accent piece in the room. Track lights are a great example of accent lights and they may be used to highlight an architectural feature such as bookshelves, accent walls, artwork, a plant, sculpture or collection of objects.

Sconces are also fantastic for designing accent lighting. They come in a range of sizes that allow you the highlight big or small pieces of art or the architecture of a space.

As a general rule, use three times more light than ambient lighting on your focal point with accent lighting.

How To Choose Fixtures For Space

When choosing lighting fixtures for your space, take the time to consider the function of the room, the mood, and the design elements that you are hoping to achieve before purchasing. A room like an entryway needs to feel inviting. Kitchens should be well lit in all areas. Bedrooms need task lighting for homework and reading. Offices will require both overhead and task lighting in abundance.
how to light a homeSmall rooms require smaller fixtures and may rely heavily on recessed lighting and lamps where a larger room can be a home for multiple large chandeliers and lamps.

Consider the ceiling height as well. If a room has a short ceiling either recessed lights or lights hanging outside of the main walking area are vital. Few things are more awkward than having to duck your head around a hanging light.

Tip: Layers of light are best in any room. Consider how the layers of lighting will work best for each room to balance function and design.

Chandeliers can be low hanging when hung over a stationary island or a desk or dining table where they can provide more direct light.

Tip: Overhead chandelier lights not only light up large areas but they often reflect off of the ceiling which creates an overall welcoming feel to a room and brings the eye upward which can help with conversations and alertness.

RELATED: How To Choose The Right Lighting Fixtures

Types Of Lightbulbs

Fluorescent, halogen, LED, Oh my! Now that you have decided which lights you would like to feature in your room, it is time to purchase the actual bulbs for your lights. The bulb purchase can be argued as equally or even more important than the fixture itself. And choosing light bulbs can be a very complex and even overwhelming decision these days.

Let’s unpack what’s new in the world of light bulbs and simplify the information so you can make an informed decision.

how to light a home

First of all, did you know that there are over 20 shapes of light bulbs, 10 bases and more than 85 sizes? We haven’t even started talking about brightness and color — no wonder it’s overwhelming!

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are the traditional older style of bulbs that were used almost exclusively until Congress passed legislation that has new standards for basic lightbulbs. They are now being phased out and are being replaced with alternates. The primary lightbulb that is taking its place is the LED.


LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights tend to be pricier than some of their counterparts but their longevity and minimal energy usage helps them maintain their popularity. They are also, difficult to break, emit very little heat, and have very little risk of starting a fire.


CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights) are also well known as they use about ¼ of the energy of an incandescent bulb and can last up to 10 times longer. They do contain traces of mercury and must be recycled after use. They also break easily and require more care.

Understanding lighting lingo is also a big part of the battle. Lumens is the amount of light the light bulb emits. A 100-watt incandescent bulb puts out about 1600 lumens.

As a rule, the higher the number, the brighter the light. Watts is the word used to describe the amount of energy the bulb uses. Lower watts equals a lower electric bill. The efficient CFL’s and LED’s use less wattage to put out the same light as incandescent bulbs.

Choosing the Color of Your Bulb

When purchasing light bulbs, you will also want to consider the color. Simplified, there are four colors to choose from.

-Soft white (yellowish in color) is the type of light the typical incandescent bulb emits and is good for general lighting.

-Warm white (between yellow and white) works well in regular use rooms.

– Bright white (between white and blue) is good for workspaces like kitchens and offices. It also works well in rooms with white or chrome fixtures as it reflects well.

– The final option is daylight and has a blue tone. Daylight light bulbs work well for reading.

how to light a home

Off-setting Winter’s Low Natural Light 

With the approach of winter, another consideration for lighting is if you are needing to light up an area to help manage Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Typically starting in late autumn, SAD affects millions of people each winter with feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, insomnia and more. Lack of daylight tends to be the number one culprit so researchers have come up with several solutions using artificial light to help combat this disorder.

Most common are the light boxes you can purchase at most any hardware or general store. These light boxes are boxes with flat screens that emit intense light. They are suggested to be used daily for 30-60 minutes and should be used at the same time each day. An excellent second option would be dawn simulators, often used as alarm clocks. Dawn simulators gradually light up a room by imitating the gradual rise of the sun. These can help you get started first thing in the morning even when you are getting up long before sunrise.

RELATED: Tips for a Well-Stocked Winter Pantry

how to light a home

Trends In Lighting

An article on lighting would not be complete without talking about the upcoming trends in lighting. The trend of white and chrome accessories is waning and making way for options like brass and warm, natural finishes. Natural wood, amber tinted glass, and unique textures are also making a comeback.

Blown Glass Pendants

One beach home trends we’ve seen – and love! – is the addition of blown glass pendants throughout. Glass pendants offer a variety of application, too. Whether you opt for a whimsical chandelier (like the one below with 25 glass blown doves) in your entryway or a simple, yet refined, trio of fixtures above a kitchen island, blown glass is a timeless look. 

Hygge-inspired Lighting

A Danish term that is deeply embedded in the Nordic culture is hard to pronounce —hygge [hyoo-gah] but easy to translate. Translated, it means “coziness,” and is all about creating a smooth vibe. It’s the feeling that lighting can evoke.

To explore a hygge style, layer your lighting, choose organic fixtures, and finish with thoughtful bulb choices; you may even fill your chandeliers with bulbs resembling candles. 

Statement Chandeliers

Have you walked into a room recently and thought maybe the chandelier was in charge of the room decor? It is possible that is exactly the idea! Large, statement chandeliers are en vogue. Homeowners will often choose the chandelier first and create a decor plan around it.

Copper & Rose Gold Fixtures

We’ve lamented all year that brass lighting is a trend with staying power, however, there’s another metallic tone that is adorning coastal homes nationwide and we’d be remiss in not mentioning it – copper and rose gold light fixtures. Not only is the color striking, it’s hue matches other trending design materials, such as wood.

Lighting is arguably one of the most important components of your house. Choosing lights that function well in your space and provide appealing design aesthetics are important for the overall style of your home.  

Here at Cottage & Bungalow, we pride ourselves on offering a collection of coastal lighting fixtures that will delight you. Browse your way through our assortment of gorgeous lamps and ceiling lights ranging from one-of-a-kind beach themed chandeliers and sconces to vintage glass lamps and hanging lights. Looking for outdoor lighting ideas? We carry a range of unique lanterns as well. You’re bound to find that perfect cottage light that will complement any coastal style home or decor.

Explore Coastal Lighting >>


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