Although he may not be aware of it, man responds to “factory settings” that must have been put in place even before time began. For instance, we instinctively know what’s beautiful and what’s ugly. Without any prior course on formal and informal balance, we sense right away, merely by looking at it, that a piece of art – Barnett Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis, for instance, has balance. Now that’s incredible because, except for five vertical stripes, Newman’s canvas is a blank ocean of red. But, responding to our built-in sense of balance, we just know that the painting’s balanced.
It’s the same with home decor. Different colors, sizes, shapes, textures, contrasts create different degrees of interest. One wall might be too loud, the floor too boring, the red color too constricting, resulting in a fabulous wall artwork that’s reduced to an understatement, or, the unthinkable: a magnificent metal wall artwork that seems out of place.
To have that all-important balance, therefore, we need to control the various elements, each screaming for attention. This means achieving equilibrium, with no part of the composition calling too much attention to itself at the expense of the other elements.
It’s the same with lighting fixtures: these should achieve a balance with the furniture, the dÃ©cor style of the room, and other sources of light. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Balance two lighting fixtures placed near each other
Two table lamps bracketing a sofa must preferably be two of the same kind, as with two wall sconces bracketing an accent or an architectural or decorative element such a mirror, doorway, or fireplace. The same rule applies to light fixtures which are not strictly pairs, as when you have a funky floor lamp near a Glasgow table lamp. The size and amount of light emitted by one should balance with that of the other.
Consider the scale of surrounding furniture or furnishings rather than the scale of the room when choosing lighting fixtures.
Use big lamp shades with wide shades to frame a massive sofa. If the sofa is minimalist, don’t use Art Deco lamp shades. Use a chandelier, not some insignificant pendant to pair with your huge dining table. Use massive wrought-iron wall sconces to bracket a massive stone fireplace.
Match the decor style of the fixture with the decor style of the room.
Don’t use shiny chrome-based lamps to decorate a country-style room, use a thick earthenware pot or jar with, say, floral design instead. Remember always to match decor styles. If your kitchen has primitive wood counter tops with rough edges and a similar wooden work table with uneven surfaces of the rustic design style, you’re better off using lamp shades with rawhide. If your room style is Hollywood, a Bobby Haines lampshade could be its crowning glory, not a lamp shade with rawhide shade.
Match the decor style of your light fixture with the decor style of an important piece the fixture is paired with.
You might want to complement your stained glass window with table lamps with stained glass shades, or a round, glass table with a round, glass pendant. If you have a painting of geometric shapes, you might want to repeat the geometric shape in the base of your lamp shades flanking it.
Match, match, match
If stainless steel’s all over your kitchen work areas, have a stainless steel-based lamp shade. If your floor consists of black-and-white squares, use a lamp shade with black-and white squares. If your throws have tassels, have a tassel for your lamp switch. Whatever trim your throws have,use it to edge your shades.
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