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How-To: Layered Lighting

Calander Image 3/18/2016
There are so many things we love about lighting, but one aspect we are particularly fans of is how you can layer it. Good in-home lighting isn not just about finding the perfect light fixture to hang over your dinner table.


It’s about identifying the proper lighting – be it sconces on either side of a mirror or a bubbly chandelier above a bathtub (like this one) – for all parts of your home. Layered lighting is having recessed lights in the ceiling for a general sense of lighting while also having two pendants hang over a center island, for example.

We recently did the lighting for a home that Great Neighborhood Homes built, and we really went with the layered lighting concept in this job. Here are real-life examples of how to properly layer lights in your home: 

How many light fixtures can you count in this image? There is a table lamp, which adds drama to the wall; a chandelier; an under-cabinet set of lights that evoke the sense of an art gallery; recessed lighting, pendants hanging above the center island to provide spot lighting; and a chandelier illuminating the dining room table. Each corner of the house should tell its own story with its light fixtures. And when put altogether like this shot, the stories should weave together in an artful way. 

The lighting in this dining room is dramatic and sculptural while also providing much-needed light above the dinner table. Even intricate bejeweled pieces like this chandelier can give off enough light to be practical in addition to being decorative. 

The light fixture hanging over this table in the breakfast nook makes the quaint table a focal point from this point of view. Having a hanging light transforms this part of the kitchen from a mere section to a whole new room.

Pendants hanging over a center island create drama, add a touch of design and provide light for the important tasks of chopping and preparing meals. While the pendants provide more of a spot lighting, the recessed lights emit a general sense of illumination.

One technique we find to be under-utilized is in-cabinet lighting. Do you see how nice the cabinets look behind the dining room table? They draw your eyes to whatever it is you keep in your cabinets, and they transform a storage space into a beautiful art piece. Or, if you have the extra space, you can actually put real pieces of art in the cabinets. The art mixed with the spotlights will quickly alter a cabinet to an art exhibit.

Light fixtures are meant to be layered, even if the pieces have different styles. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match pendants, chandeliers, table lamps, in-cabinet and recessed lighting with one another. As you can tell, they make for pretty spectacular interior design! 

[Lighting by Filament Lighting, house by Great Neighborhood Homes]