An Explicit Discussion About Lighting by The Decorologist

Many clients I work with are very interested in my helping them with color (primarily wall color) and accessories.  Furniture can be expensive, so it’s not in everyone’s budget to go there. 




Sometimes clients want help with lighting, but I usually am the one to bring up the subject.  Why?  Because there is rarely ever enough of it in their rooms.   Often nothing more than a boring flush mount fixture.




No matter how beautiful the color of the walls or how interesting the accessories are (or even how beautiful the furniture is), a room does not truly come to life until the lighting is right. 



What is “right,” you ask?  Well, that varies according to your style and taste.  But what doesn’t vary is this:  you MUST have lamps + good overhead lighting for a room to look welcoming and “finished.”




Can we PLEASE step away from the nipple lights on Aisle 8 of Home Depot???  Halls and certain rooms do require flush mount lighting because of the height of the ceiling, but do all you can to avoid light fixtures that look like a breast or nipple.  They were obviously designed by men . . .

Do Not Buy This Fixture


There should be a lovely overhead fixture in every room, hanging as low as possible without danger of bumping a tall guy’s head (unless that tall guy installed a nipple fixture elsewhere in the house – in that case, he deserves it).  Some rooms may even need a lovely pair of fixtures.



Every room also needs lamplight.  And not just one lamp.  Start with 3 as a general rule.  Make sure they are distributed throughout the room and not lumped over to one side of it.  Light coming from various sources and heights can set the mood for different times of the day/evening.




If you are lucky enough to be building a new home or are able to add them, please consider including sconces – especially nice in pairs flanking a fireplace, entryway, sofa, or for bedside lighting.



 I think I may have caused enough controversy with this post, so I’ll have to save my opinion on the dreadful compact flourescent lightbulb for another day . . .

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34 thoughts on “An Explicit Discussion About Lighting by The Decorologist

  1. Dee says:

    Oh those men builders! You forgot to mention ceiling fans and dinning room light light fixtures are never in the right place in homes! I mean never!! Even in custom homes, unless they are working with a designer. Good post and funny too!

  2. Misty says:

    Totally agree!!! Enough with the nipple light.

    BTW I’ve started stock-piling incandescent light bulbs…can’t stand the thought of being without them some day!!! ; )

      • julia says:

        dear kristie,

        i agree with you about lighting – it makes or breaks a room. That being said, i have been impressed with the steady improvement in the color and texture of light shed by CF bulbs. In the interest of polar bears, may i suggest that we save our incadescents for subtle lighting needs and turn to CFs for day to day lighting needs?

        • Kristie Barnett says:

          well, that is a good suggestion, julia. i have yet to see improvement in the CF bulbs that are available in the local groceries and superstores here. there’s still a huge difference in the way they affect colors (particularly wall colors), so they constantly throw off my color specifications for clients. unfortunately, i am so sensitive to them that they often give me aural migraines. just last week, i worked a few hours in a client’s home with CF overhead lighting (during the day) and i was sick the rest of the day with one. i think it’s concerning that it could make you physically ill like that, and it makes me wonder about their long-term health effects on people.

          • Angel L says:

            Thank you for addressing this! I get migraines as well and the CF bulbs are terrible for this. Also I have a friend that has epilipsy and she has had seisures induced because of them! They are just terrible. Plus deep down people must reaslize that the general public are not going to dspose of them properly. Most people are going to throw them in the trash when they do burn out thus negating any positive impact they could have had on the enviroment.

            Add me to one of the people hoarding incandescent bulbs.

  3. Sheila Zeller says:

    Awesome post! We have inherited a light fixture in the dining room that is boring, blah, and totally hung in the wrong spot. It is definitely on the TO DO list of things to change… oh, and we also inherited the lovely ‘Do Not Buy this Fixture!’ minus the nipple in the hallways throughout 🙁 Bright ideas they are NOT!
    Hope you have a great weekend Kristie 🙂

  4. Linda says:

    Our home had 8 nipple lights when we moved in. We have replaced all but one in the guest room…it’s not only a nipple light but it is a BRASS nipple light. It has been on the “to do” list for 4 years now! I had actually forgotten about it but reading your post makes me want to go out tonight and get a new light… that is if it wasn’t 107 degrees out.

  5. Mary says:

    I used to think I had pretty good taste–ha, I have not one but TWO nipple lights. And I was the one who put them in! LOL!

    Say, while we are on the subject of lights that resemble a certain part of a female anatomy am I the only one who thinks there are an awful lot of bathroom faucets out there that resemble a certain part of the male anatomy?

  6. Stacy Naquin says:

    You are so hilarious! I’ll never see the nipple light the same….oh yes, I should start stockpiling the incandescent lights too…I think we need to join on the steps of Washington and protest the horrible idea of getting rid of incandescents!!!! I burst a clients bubble this week, he was so excited to show me his “energy saving” florescent lightbulbs in the fan….YUCK! The coloring is horrible! …when you people live in a tent and start buying lanterns and candles, THEN I’ll be impressed!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Oh, Stacy! So glad I am not the only one who feels that way – when I suggest my clients switch back to incandescents, they look at me like i murder puppies or something! i’d rather be glamping in a tent than using compact fluorescents!!!

  7. Lee says:

    as someone married to a very tall (6’5″) man who stockpiles incandescent lights I want to know what else to do in a room with a very low ceiling that is also very dark without a ceiling light. There is already a lamp but not much outside light makes it in so the overhead light is, by default, one of THOSE (except it has this pretty wrought iron vine thing curling around it but now, thanks to this post, I’m seeing it more as Adam & Eve clothing rather than a decoration on a light fixture.)

  8. Lee says:

    I totally agree with the nipplesl ights- but wht the heck to use instead???? I need pictures!! We have awful lights- all off enter- on our rooms, but don’t know what to put up instead? So, they stay….

  9. Molly Morris says:

    I am like Linda – down to one brass nipple in a hallway. I took one down that was over the kitchen sink and haven’t replaced it yet. It was instant improvement. It’s sad that wires sticking out are prettier than the brass nipple. Great funny post!

  10. Kelly says:

    hahaha! Nipple lights! I will never look at them again without laughing and thinking of you! Love your pictures! LOL nipple lights!!

  11. Naturally Carol says:

    Here in Australia the incandescent lightbulb is now outlawed…we are only able to buy LEDs or those fluorescent things..and my husband tells me that they take far more energy to actually make than they save in usage of much for the carbon footprint!

  12. Vicki says:

    Oh no! LOVE your blogs Kristie, but realise here I am making another faux pas…..because not only do I have nipple lights, but ceiling fans too!

    Nipple lights are going…..and soon. But what’s wrong with ceiling fans? We have them in every bedroom, (white ceilings and white ceiling fans) and have to say I enjoy the breeze they create. They also help to ‘hum’ my kids to sleep.

    Is this a big no-no, and if so, why?


    • Kristie Barnett says:

      If it’s super-functional for you, I get it. It’s just that ceiling fans manufacturers don’t give us much variety and style to choose from! I just love a good hanging light fixture 🙂

  13. Maggi Bowden says:

    Help, there's a nipple light in my front entry.  Clearly I need your help.  Not to mention I don't have any idea what to do with the outdated color scheme in my open concept house.

  14. Donna white says:

    Darn it….I found a nipple light in my laundry room! It is going, going, gone,,,,not soon enough! Carriage light might replace it! Thanks…I needed that!

  15. Carol Carr says:

    Hi Kristie ,
    Thoroughly enjoy your blog & comments from all your fans.
    Just walked through my house & was shocked to realize I have FIVE nipple lights. Yikes! A visit to Home Depot & Lowes & a call to the electricians is in order.
    Wld appreciate further recomendations for ceiling fixtures.

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