Lighting Your Small Space
The correct lighting can give your small space a more open feeling. If you are lucky enough to have sun-soaked windows you’ve got a great start for daytime, however you’ll still need to consider creating the right balance for cloudy days and night-time. Here are some of our favorite tips for effective lighting in small spaces.
Lead the Eye
Make the most of the vertical space by leading the eye up with a dramatic or eye-grabbing ceiling fixture or chandelier. A large fixture will brighten your space and play with the scale of the room, making it look larger and more open. Long pendants in particular are good at emphasizing the vertical space in a room while also offering an intimate feel.
After you’ve taken care of overhead lighting, you’ll want to complete the room by layering the light. Lighting sources at different heights and with different purposes help define areas within your space. For condos, apartments and studios that have multi-functional rooms use lighting to differentiate your spaces. Achieve this effect with task lights on the desk, table lamps on the end tables and a chandelier over the dining area. Add a few torchiere floor lamps or wall sconces to further fill in the lighting, eliminating dark corners and dim areas.
Peppering lighting throughout the room opens the space more than one or two light fixtures in the far corners. This also provides the benefit of lighting options, with every lamp on to open the entire space, or just select task lighting for concentrated illumination, focus and drama. Multiple sources of light can soften the effect of harsh overhead lighting that comes standard in many apartments.
Set the Mood
Use dimmers on all of your fixtures. This way you can easily soften the lighting when you want and brighten things up when you want to open up the feel of your space.
Pro tip: For rentals, look for chandeliers and wall sconces with plug in cords rather than those needing to be installed if replacing or adding fixtures isn’t allowed.
Warm Things Up
Look for incandescent bulbs or other “soft white” or “warm white” bulbs which offers warm yellow or even slightly orange lamination rather than “cool white” or “bright white” “daylight” that is closer to the blue end of the spectrum. These will give your home a cozier, more inviting feeling rather than a bright, sterile hospital or office appearance.
While whiter, brighter lights are great for tasks and working, people feel more comfortable and are better able to relax with warmer light sources.
Not All Shades are Equal
Look carefully at the lamps you are considering. People have a tendency to evaluate lampshades on color and material without factoring in how light will permeate the shade. Light colored and translucent material shades let more light through. Metal, dark and heavy, opaque shades trap light and instead focus on funneling light up or down. If you are looking for dim, indirect light, go for a dark shade. If you want bright light choose lighter materials and colors.
For tight spaces, consider square or oval shades which can help a lamp take up less table space by nestling up to a wall more easily.
Echo and Amplify
To make the most of your light sources, mirrors, glass and reflective surfaces amplify the effect and bolster the look.
For more tips on lighting, have a look at our related articles: Layered Lighting for Comfort and Ambiance, Lighting Tips, and Using Lighting as an Accent Piece - Unique Chandeliers