High/Low: The Everyman’s Guide To Perfect Home Lighting

a couch with stick lighting on either side and text that says High Low

If style makes the man, lighting makes the room.

One of the most-common men’s decorating mistakes is inadequate lighting. Unfortunately, lighting can be fairly expensive, and if you live in an apartment, some lighting options aren’t as readily available, since they might require more permanent methods to install.

However, without adequate lighting, even the most-stylish, thoughtfully-decorated home will feel smaller, lifeless, and dull. Proper lights might be an investment, and not all lighting options are available to people living in a rental, but many options and techniques exist that will light up your space, no matter your home ownership status or personal budget.

Below, we’ve combined our best lighting advice with some of our favorite high/low lighting options, if you’re feeling inspired and ready to light up your home.

Work in layers of light

With all of the advice that follows, keep this in mind: Lighting works best when presented at different visual “layers.” Your overhead light is one layer, your floor lights are another, your tabletop-dwelling lamps are yet another, candles work as one more, and so on. It’s why a single bulb dangling from the ceiling feels bleak and dreary, but a room rich in illumination feels cozy and warm.

If you’re committed to fixing your lighting problem, be ready to invest in multiple “layers” of light for your room, not only one or two lamps that are at the same visual “level” in the room.

Don’t be afraid to go big

You might be surprised how a larger overhead lighting fixture can make your ceilings feel higher. A larger, more visually-interesting fixture draws your eye upward, creating a greater sense of expanse in an otherwise humble room. Flush mount and semi-flush mount fixtures won’t weigh down your ceilings like a chandelier, and installation is decently easy and non-permanent.

$199.95

Lamps Plus

Retro-inspired and endlessly cool, this eye-catching, high-quality fixture is also affordable (at the time of this writing, it was $50 off, so grab it while you can!).

ceiling light

image of ceiling light fixture

$35.99

Amazon

This fixture is highly-rated and also offers the same mid century modern feel, and comes ready for easy installation.

Light up the corners

One of the most-common mistakes made when lighting a room is ignoring the corners. Dark corners look gloomy and sullen, and make your room feel even smaller. Bring some light and cheer into these overlooked spaces, and even the smallest room in your home will feel brighter and more cozy.

$137.99

Wayfair

Simple and understated, these elegant torchieres also use dimmable LEDs to set the appropriate mood for the time of day.

LED floor lamp in a living room with a white couch

helix LED floor lamp beside a bed

$74.99

Amazon

This slim, modern light emits a soft, warm light to illuminate the smallest of corners, and its curving design makes a stylish statement.

Wall sconces frame bathroom mirror and bedrooms (without damaging your walls)

Thought wall sconces were out of the question as a renter? Let me introduce you to plug-in wall sconces. With multiple options in different styles (and installation no more damaging than hanging a picture frame), plug-in wall sconces add another layer of lighting in your room, and draw attention to features like your bathroom mirror or bed.

$69.95

Lamps Plus

Another retro-inspired fixture, featuring a classic globe-shaped silhouette and brushed bronze finish.

antique brass globe wall lamp

brushed brass and clear glass lighting fixture

$39

Amazon

This fixture from Amazon offers a similar design, but is slightly more affordable, and uses LED lights, which won’t emit excess heat.

Place a stylish table lamp in an otherwise boring corner

Table lamps can provide a focal point or a complement to a room’s aesthetic. Their position in a corner that might otherwise be boring and dark is a perfect way to add interest to your room.

$151.05

West Elm

The neutral color palette of the soft white and wooden base highlights the eye-catching shape of this lamp.

wood and ceramic table lamp on a table

glass table lamp on a table

$74

Pottery Barn

Simple but beautiful, the white, frosted-glass base of this lamp will complement almost any aesthetic.

Expand your light’s reach with a larger floor lamp

Floor lamps not only look good, but due to their (often) larger size, they can also give a wider cast of light. They’re also a great way to add in some additional visual interest to a room.

$599

CB2

The modern, tapered American walnut base of this lamp looks beautiful and offers plenty of light.

walnut wood and linen floor lamp

wood base floor lamp in the corner of a living room area

$149.99

Amazon

With a similar modern, tapered wooden base, this handsome floor lamp captures a comparable aesthetic at a fraction of the cost.

Utilize task lighting in your kitchen

A single, bleak light overhead won’t offer enough lighting to help you safely wield a chef knife, or make your kitchen feel very inviting (ever notice how most guests crowd into the kitchen at parties?). Installation of task lighting under cabinets can be non-permanent, and add much-needed lighting.

$79.99

Amazon

Battery-operated and extra-long to span under a long line of cabinets, these highly-rated under-cabinet lights are also hand-wave activated and dimmable, and have the option to be installed with screws or with the included 3M adhesive tape backing.

under cabinet lighting kit

image of a kitchen area with under cabinet lighting

$13.99

Amazon

A reviewer favorite, these ultra-thin, affordable lights can be installed using their adhesive backing and are recommended for under kitchen cabinets, inside clothes closets, the trunk of your car—anywhere you could use an extra light.

Introduce chill vibes with electric candles

As we mentioned at the start, lighting on different “planes” of eyesight is a key ingredient to successfully lighting a room. Electric candles add a sense of ambiance and rest, and can be placed on bookshelves, side tables, window ledges, etc. We love a good wax and flame candle, but electric candles bring in all the coziness with no risk of burning down the house!

natural glow pillar LED electric candle

three piece pillar electric candle set

$37.85

Wayfair

This set of 3 ultra-realistic LED candles also feature a real wax finish, and even a burnt tip wick for a more authentic look.

Mirrors to bounce light around the room

This final “lighting” tip is a smart way to maximize the lighting you have, whether from a natural lighting source or an added fixture: Strategically install mirrors in different parts of the room—perhaps a mirror on the wall opposite a large window or bright floor lamp—to bounce the light around, making the room feel even brighter.

$349

Urban Outfitters

This industrial-inspired mirror with black piping is large enough to reflect ample light throughout the room.

floor mirror with wire frame

image of rounded wall mirror with ridge design

$149

West Elm

We love the unique ridge detail on the bottom third of this mirror. Not only is it stylish, but the ridges themselves will reflect light into different directions.

Does your home need a boost of brightness? What lighting challenges do you face in your current home, and what’s your plan to fix them? Leave us a comment below!

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This post was originally published on Primer

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