I Bought IKEA’s Most Iconic Lighting Fixture—And It Was All Wrong for My Bedroom
It’s been nearly five years since it began popping up in stores, and IKEA’s SINNERLIG pendant is still everywhere. I mean, it’s a rare day that I don’t happen upon one during my nightly Instagram scroll. Designed in partnership with British designer Ilse Crawford, this statement piece has been used in living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms alike.
I knew when I moved into my rental that I would swap out the light fixtures. Yes, I was renting, but life is too short to live with the orange glow of a generic boob lamp (unless you want to, for whatever reason). With its woven bamboo shade, the SINNERLIG pendant is the perfect mix of modern and earthy. Exactly what my bedroom needed, I thought. Turns out, I was wrong.
Just a few days after I had my dream light installed, something felt… off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but even though it seemed to go with my aesthetic and room in theory, in practice, it felt like a sore thumb. I sat with the feeling of disappointment for months before finally caving and swapping the SINNERLIG for a ceiling fan.
But why did it throw off the balance of the room so much? To find out—and spare you this experience—I asked an expert what to consider when adding a statement lighting fixture to a space. This is not to say that the SINNERLIG can’t work for you. Before you install any light though, make sure it checks these boxes for you.
Make a statement
“There are a few questions to ask yourself when purchasing lighting: Is it taking center stage or is it playing a supporting role?,” asks Ben Marshall, creative director of Hudson Valley Lighting Group, the company that’s also behind the modern diffusion brand, Mitzi. While beautiful, my new pendant was in competition with my dramatic, extra-tall headboard, as pictured above. I also had art above the headboard, too, which was another somewhat distraction. Statement lights like SINNERLIG deserve to exist in the spotlight and should be given breathing room to truly shine.
The mood matters
The term “mood lighting” isn’t an arbitrary one; lights really do help set the mood. Marshall says to consider what activities you’ll do in the space where you are installing a light—whether it’s entertaining friends, reading a book, washing the dishes, or otherwise—then select a fixture accordingly. “Some rooms are very functional, while others are more for relaxing and entertaining,” he says. “Think about what kind of ‘mood’ you want a room to primarily have and then pick the kind of lighting fixtures and the number of lights that will help achieve that mood.”
What’s your function?
I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge fan of overhead lighting. I wanted to hang this particular pendant because I love how it looks, which, according to Marshall, isn’t inherently bad. “One-light pendants may be used in very specific ways, subbing for other fixtures such as sconces or table lamps,” he adds. Pendants can be functional or just plain decorative, and your light’s intended use will impact what style of shade works best.
The thing is, if you really like reading in bed at night, for example, you’d have to team the SINNERLIG up with a wall-mounted sconce or nightstand lamp. When this pendant is on, it throws a diffuse, patterned pool of light as opposed to direct task lighting. Essentially, the point here is try not to choose a light purely for aesthetics if you also have functional requirements for it and don’t want to invest in other lighting solutions to offset its deficits.
Look at the big picture
My ceilings are only eight feet tall, which is relatively low for an American ceiling but common for my building’s era (the 1930s). In hindsight, a two-foot-tall-plus pendant was always a bad idea. Even with its open woven design, it had too much visual weight in the room. And that, I think is what ultimately gave me the feeling that something just wasn’t quite right.