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Everything You Need to Know About Modern Lighting

Learn more about modern lighting and how it can illuminate your design.

The perfect lighting style for a design isn’t always the simplest design. So many factors go into designing a light plan for a room—orientation, natural light, size, shape, design elements, furniture, etc. can all impact how light interacts with the space. Browse our modern lighting guide to learn more about types of lighting, styles, and what type of modern light fixture works best for any space or purpose.

Features of Modern Lighting

Out of all the facets of modern home décor, modern lighting is perhaps the most unique. Light fixtures are first and foremost functional—even the most ornamental lamp serves a function—but each one is crafted to give a nod to vintage elements while firmly keeping its feet in modern style.

Overall, lighting styles categorized as modern typically feature

  • Clean Lines
  • Curves
  • Mixed Materials

Because of these characteristics, this style of lighting tends to enhance the value of a home and any design it’s part of.

Modern Chandeliers: Best as a Focal Point

Modern chandeliers embrace the expressions of decades past with the main style highlights of mid-century modern to create a lighting style that’s unique. Serving as a statement piece in any room, modern chandeliers provide light as well as personality to a room in a sophisticated way. Additionally, they aren’t designed to share the space with too many lights—with modern chandeliers and modern lighting design as a whole, less is more.

Here are a few of our modern chandeliers from Mr. Brown London:

A perfect example of art deco style, the Ophelia Chandelier is a unique, quirky, and fun choice for any modern room.

The Galaxy is a perfect blend of traditional, yet modern lighting styles. It serves as an example of a modern, transitional chandelier.

The Right Chandelier for the Right Space

Evolving wood, candle wax, and chains to hoist them up, chandeliers today come in a variety of styles and can adorn any room if done correctly. Today they serve as a statement piece regardless of the style, size, or room, and are unmistakable as the focal point, or one of the focal points, in a design.

Most homes feature them in entryways and other areas that guests will see first. Designed to make a statement and a distinct first impression, chandeliers add a touch of sophistication to any room. More eccentric clients and designers might even incorporate them into private areas, like bathrooms and bedrooms.

Size Matters with Chandeliers

When considering modern chandeliers and what works for a design and space, size needs to be the first consideration. A luxury chandelier that’s too small won’t measure up to the rest of the room, while one too big might dominate it even more than a statement piece should.

To get an idea of the right size chandelier, simply look at the measurements of the room and add them together. That number is roughly the diameter of the chandelier that would fit that space.

Floor Lamps: Best for Accent Lighting

Floor lamps are ideal for highlighting an area, as a focal point, or simply brightening up an awkward dark corner. They can also double as task lights too when it comes to enjoying a sofa with a book on cozy evenings.

Like table lamps, which we talk about below, they also serve to add an ornamental element to your design. Thanks to numerous styles, modern floor lamps can easily fit into any design.

Selecting the Right Floor Lamp

There are different types of floor lamps beyond the lighting style. What’s its purpose, and what kind of space do you have for it? The answers to both of those questions will help with narrowing down what kind of floor lamp should be paired with any design.

  • Tree Lamps

    Named for their many arms, tree lamps resemble a tree with a single trunk (the pole) and multiple branches (arms with lights at the end). Like other modern light fixtures, these have a variety of styles with globe shades built into the fixture, and even horned and bell-shaped extensions to make it a task lamp as well.

  • Club Lamps

    Simple in design but with numerous styles, club lamps illuminate smaller areas and typically feature a drum lampshade that is narrower at the top and flaring at the bottom. This is a tried and true design that works perfectly for corners or positioned between a luxury sofa, corner table, or lounger.

  • Industrial Lamps

    More of a style than a particular design, industrial floor lamps are distinct in that they borrow from places that historically one wouldn’t consider for décor inspiration. Yet exposed metals and mechanics add to the elegance and charm of these floor lamps. Cage shade and lights are popular features of these light fixtures as well.

Table Lamps: Best for (Almost) All Lighting

Versatile, a sophisticated table lamp that’s strategically placed can function as an accent lamp, a task lamp, or even enhance the ambient lighting of a room. They can also be used in practically any space, making them perfect for more designs that call for a more creative lighting solution.

For the entrance hall, buffet lamps are ideal to accentuate the first features guest will see, while something bold and beautiful in the dining room tends to draw the eye and add a touch of elegance to that space. Bedrooms and living rooms benefit as well, often with pairs of table lamps, and can function as side tables, or a focal point when paired with the right luxury storage casegood.

Match the Right Lamp to Your Style

The style of a luxe table lamp says a lot about the room and the people who live in it. And, with modern light fixtures, there isn’t a shortage of options. Find the table lamp and lighting style best suited for your design below.

  • Buffet Lamps

    This style of lamp is often sold in sets of two. While they are lovely on their own, they often do best as a set and frequently adorn either side of a table or low cabinet. These lamps aren’t necessarily designed to be a focal point, though they certainly can be. Some styles of buffet lamps do very well as bedside table lamps thanks to a more subdued style, while metallic, flashier lamps are a good choice for areas where people tend to congregate.

  • Column Lamps

    Like many other light fixture styles, the name is a good descriptor for the lamp. Column table lamps are cylindrical in shape and have a simple, clean design. They are mainly intended to accentuate a room’s focal point rather than being the piece that really dominates the design.

  • Novelty Lamps

    Quirky, fun, and full of personality, novelty lamps step away from the clean, minimalist look of many styles and serve as a focal point for the space that they occupy. Available in styles ranging from modern rustic farmhouse to art deco inspired table lamps, novelty lamps are a great way to express creativity with a modern lighting fixture.

Wall Lamps: Best for Every Room

Unlike other types of light fixtures on our list, wall lamps, also called wall sconces, are ideal for almost any lighting need. The right wall sconce can help illuminate a room and provide ambiance lighting while others serve as a perfect accent light for features of the room or items that are invaluable to the homeowner.

They are also a practical way to save space and have the functionality of a task light; a well-placed wall sconce can illuminate a workspace, look great, and not take away from the square footage when the area is restrictive (lighting on either side of a bathroom mirror might be an example of this).

All in all, wall lamps are a great choice for any lighting style or plan.

Selecting the Right Type of Wall Sconce

It’s important to select the right wall sconce for your design. Modern lighting certainly doesn’t lack options and functionality, so it’s important to know what to look for and, more importantly, what works in your design.

  • Up and Down Wall Lamps

    A stylish task light, up and down wall sconces direct light in a specific direction, for a specific purpose. If upwards, the design uses the wall and ceiling to help spread light. Pointed downward, a wall sconce will illuminate a work area or specific part of the room.

  • Wallchieres

    Ornate and designed to be both decorative and functional, wallchieres take the beauty and boldness of a chandelier and put it in a much smaller, wall-mounted package. Wallchieres have personality, and with numerous styles, it’s very likely that finding the perfect wallchiere won’t be a challenge for any design.

  • Modern and Contemporary Sconces

    Though more of a style than a design, modern sconces can’t be easily categorized like many other styles in luxury lighting. These wall lamps incorporate modern influence and functionality for a piece that fits in well with many mid-century modern home décor styles.

    With numerous styles, interior decorators have countless choices when it comes to selecting a modern wall sconce that is a perfect focal point—or flawlessly flatters the center of attention—for a minimalist design.

Tips for Lighting a Space

Here are some tips on lighting a space with a modern lamp or chandelier. Additionally, you can read our article 25 Ways to Add Light to Your Room to get more styling tips that enhance your design perfectly.

Be Sure to Choose the Right Lamp Shade

The lamp shade makes the lamp. That couldn’t be more true when it comes to floor lamps, wall sconces, and tabletop light fixtures. It’s important to select the right style of lamp shade for your needs without sacrificing any of your design or the aesthetics of the fixture.

Have Three or More Light Sources

Be sure to include at least three sources of light with your design. This can be natural light for a window, an overhead pendant light for general ambiance, and a few accent lights that add character with their design or highlight a feature of the space.

Have Dimmers Installed

Ideal for smaller homes or spaces that are multi-use, dimmers allow clients to control the temperature of the room. This is perfect for living rooms that double as workshops, or kitchens that serve as dining rooms. Alternatively, you can encourage clients to use smart bulbs that can be controlled with an app.

Consider the Room’s Orientation

Rooms with large windows should, theoretically, let in plenty of light. But, if it’s facing a direction that doesn’t receive a lot of light, or light tends to be seasonal, it’s good to consider your lighting strategy.

For homes with a north-facing living room where light might be a little more scarce throughout the year, consider using recessed lighting fixtures along with a variety of modern lighting options to light up the darker corners of the room. Choose wall sconces with directional lighting, and select a chandelier (or two, if it’s a particularly long, narrow room) that will best spread light across the ceiling.

Light is essential. Beyond home décor, it is one of the most important parts of our lives whether it’s headlights at night or a flashlight as we fetch errant toys from under the couch. Because light is so important, so are the light fixtures we use to project artificial light into our spaces.

Use our guide above to select the right size, style, and even color lighting you’ll need for your next bespoke design.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about modern lighting? Browse our questions and answers below to satisfy your curiosity.

What lighting is in style in 2022?

Statement lighting is a popular trend in 2022. Numerous materials and sculptural design elements shift lights away from being purely functional to both serve a purpose, and be a visual element in the space.

What is the difference between modern and contemporary lighting?

Much like the modern style, modern lighting is a broad category with design types and elements that tend to remain popular despite shifting trends. On the other hand, contemporary tends to mature and evolve with shifting fads and styles.

What are the 3 types of lighting methods?

Lighting can be separated into three basic categories: ambient lighting, which is general lighting for the whole room; task lighting, which is for specific tasks or purposes and typically utilitarian; and accent lighting, which highlights a specific feature or design element.

Are chandeliers still in style?

Chandeliers will very likely never fall out of style. Different styles may wax and wan with styling trends, but chandeliers have been around since antiquity. Home décor may change, but chandeliers are eternal.

What is the most beautiful chandelier?

We personally like the truly larger-than-life crystal chandelier in the Dolmabahce Palace, located in Istanbul. It has 750 lamps and weighs over four tons. The palace also has the largest collection of crystal chandeliers in the world—if this extravagant chandelier isn’t exactly to your taste, you could probably find something you like even better here.

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