I've been meaning to pull together a comprehensive lighting guide for our archives for a while now, and today I finally got it done. This is a general list that covers the basics, is loaded with links, and points you towards some good sources — it's designed to be bookmarked and used as a cheat sheet whenever you're on the lookout for lighting.
These are a decorator's best friend. Strategically placed around a room, they can provide flattering light and a sense of warmth.
Architect's or Task Lamps
These adjustable lamps are referred to as task lighting, drafting lamps, or architect's lamps, because they're often used in offices to spotlight blueprints on a drafting table. Use them in an office, as a bedside lamp, or as a reading light. See this post for high and low options.
This category encompasses any type of lighting that's as much (or more) about form as it is about function. Try one of these as a statement piece in a living or dining room. For more examples, see this post.
Pendants provide overhead light that's a little more stylish than the average renter's fixture. If you're in need of a focal point for a dining room, bedroom, or a hallway, a large pendant lamp is a pretty safe bet.
These are a nice alternative for renters who can't hard-wire an overhead fixture. They've also got a little bit of chic 70s style if you like the retro look.
Nothing says romance and drama like a chandelier. They're often a fixture in historic homes, and they're great in living rooms, hallways, and bedrooms. For an interesting history of the crystal chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera House, see this post.
Flexible and particularly useful in a reading corner or next to a sofa, floor lamps are a living room staple.
These wall-mounted lamps are useful in tight spaces, such as bathrooms, tiny bedrooms, and hallways. For a top ten list of sconces, see this post.
Used in kitchens, hallways, and anywhere you might need a spotlight, these systems consist of a long track with multiple adjustable fixtures.
Recessed fixtures are generally used for overhead lighting, spotlighting (it's a good way to highlight artwork), directional lighting, or specialized lighting (such as under-cabinet fixtures).
Display & Picture Lighting
Wall-mounted lights for paintings and artwork can be a little harder to find than the other fixtures listed here, but we love the old-school, library look of a brass drawing room light. For a good list of sources, see this post.
Outdoor Lanterns, String Lights, and Lamps
When you're entertaining outside, lighting can make or break the atmosphere. For a good resource guide to LOTS of outdoor lighting ideas, see this post.
OTHER RELEVANT RESOURCES
• Lighting Stores on Marketplace
• Best Outdoor String Lights 2010
• 10 Best Bedside Lamps for Readers
• Best of the Guide 2005: Lighting Stores
• Best Task Lights 2008