If you’ve been following along with this series of accessorizing articles, you now have beautifully decorated walls, your favorite treasures are stunningly displayed and you’ve added plants to the room to soften the space and add life. What could possibly be missing? A key ingredient to any home: lighting.
This post isn’t going to be in depth coverage of light waves and bulb types and technical stuff. That’s for another day. Today I want to focus on lighting your accessories and the quiet little corners of your room. If you go to all the trouble to create the perfect vignette, it’s definitely worth lighting it so people can enjoy it.
LIGHTING FOR A DISPLAY
Whether on a tabletop, a bookcase, a mantel, a dining buffet or an entry table, you should make every effort to add a lamp. Using a lamp on a tabletop or buffet is probably easiest because the furniture is most likely against a wall and near an outlet. Try using a buffet lamp (or accent lamp) which is a tall, usually skinny lamp that will give off a little light but not take up much room. An accent lamp is usually a low light fixture using only a 40 or 60 watt bulb, which is enough to cover your display in a warm glow but not enough to read by.
These lamps from Lamps Plus (an affiliate) give just a couple examples of shapes a buffet lamp could take. This classic style buffet lamp is 30″ tall from the Candice Olsen lighting collection at Lamps Plus (#F9872, $279). Next is a modern interpretation, 34″ tall (#H1123, $139).
Tall accent lighting like this illuminates downward to your display but also usually bathes the wall or furniture around it with a soft light as well. Another factor to consider when purchasing accent lighting is the scale. Do you have a really high ceiling? You can handle extra tall buffet lamps. Are the lamps sitting on a large piece of furniture or flanking a large piece of art? Choose chunkier accent lighting. And there’s no law that says you need a pair – use just one lamp if that’s all the room you have or if that’s what it takes to balance your arrangement.
You could also go exactly the opposite direction and choose a shorter than usual accent lamp like this one, only 16″ high. It’s purpose is only to light the table space immediately around it and not throw much light into the room. Perfect for a tucked away place or small collection to have a subtle amount of light. (#J8786, $220)
A display in a bookcase or mantel is a little more difficult because there’s often not easy access to an outlet. Try to be as creative as possible about hiding the cords (partly because they’re ugly and partly for safety). In a bookcase you might try affordable under counter stick-on strips. I’ve used that successfully in my bookshelves and the lights have lasted for years.
On a mantel you might use sconces or if you’ve got a nice deep mantel, use a buffet lamp. The first choice would always be to have sconce wiring be in the wall, but lots of times that’s just not possible. They do make wire covers that can be painted and help hide the cord. If there’s just no way to have a sconce or lamp on the mantel, place a lamp right next to the fireplace and/or hearth – try a torchiere (up light) lamp in this case to light up the area.
Lamps are actually a very affordable accessory considering how much value they add to your room and your displays. Shop for a bargain, but remember you want style too. Add a touch of elegance or a touch of whimsy … but definitely a touch of light.
10 PERFECT VIGNETTE LIGHTING SOLUTIONS
1. Start simply – a single lamp lighting the table display and surrounding art as well as brightening a corner.
2. Look at the glow of light given by this one lamp on the bookshelf. It lights the art and the accessories and balances the floral arrangement.
3. Tall buffet lamps frame the mirror and fern perfectly (remember the post from earlier this week about using plants in the home? This is a great example).
4. Another example of the use of buffet lamps. The extreme height of these lamps frame the large picture and taller accessories well and serve to connect the table top to the art. The narrow shape leaves lots of room for a fall vignette.
5. Use under counter lighting to brighten a bookcase display like I did on these shelves in my home.
6. Do you have a special art piece or collectible worthy of it’s own special light? We have an art vase that looks lit from within by this halogen spotlight, but it also lights the surrounding display.
7. Use a picture light to highlight a special piece of art or wall hanging and combine it with tabletop accent lighting for maximum impact. Again, notice how the lamp reaches the picture frame to create a connection (the art could actually be hung just a touch lower – or maybe I’m just being too picky).
8. This dining room maximizes all sorts of extra lighting. Buffet lamps (and I love that they’re not paired on the same piece of furniture), torchieres for uplighting and dramatic candlelight on the table top. Wow.
9. Speaking of candlelight……look at this charming vignette lit only by candlelight. Talk about setting a mood!
10. Last, but not least, candlelight is always a lovely way to light an area. The drama of this dining table is the volume of candles and that they’re in mismatched holders – but all glass / crystal for a sense of continuity. This setting accomplishes 2 things: showing off a collection and beautiful illumination. By the way, did you notice the bookcase is lit as well to show off their horse figurine collection? Simple and elegant all the way.
Hopefully this has helped you realize the value of using accent lighting all over your home. Tall and skinny or short and stubby, lighting will make all the difference in enjoying your vignettes. If you have any specific questions about sizes or styles or anything else about lighting, just write and ask me.
Yes, you’ll notice some affiliate lighting ads below – if you’re in the market for a lamp of any kind, there are some great options on all of those sites. Stay tuned for the final installment of accessorizing – a wrap up and discussion of accessories & color.