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pendant lights

Uplighting, Downlighting | How to Choose the Right Kind of Light for Your Space!

Have you ever purchased a piece of dècor for your home — whether a new sofa, a painting from a local artist, or perhaps upgraded flooring in the kitchen only to find that it doesn’t look quite like you expected?

The problem may lie, not with your taste in tile or art, but in the kind of lighting you’re using. Many people focus on paint, texture, and color when designing a room with lighting nothing more than an afterthought. But in reality, the type of lighting you choose can make or break a space.

barn pendant lighting

The amount of natural light in a room can make a difference in what type of lighting you choose as do the materials on the walls and in the furnishings. Dark paint or draperies tend to absorb light and make a room appear smaller whereas lighter paint and furnishings reflect light making the space appear brighter. Even surfaces like counter tops and floors that are reflective can create harsh glare in a room with inappropriate light fixtures.


When choosing lighting, it’s a good idea to focus first on whether you need uplighting or downlighting. Both are important and serve specific purposes, and you will find that a combination of both is often best. This is called layering a room using a mix of ambient, accent, and task lighting.


For example, the wall sconces above, as you might guess, provide classic uplighting. The broad bowl of this bathroom wall sconce directs the light upward toward the ceiling. The alabaster bowl shown on the right would offer a bit more of a soft glow around the bowl itself.


For larger spaces, like dining rooms and living areas, chandeliers can provide a wider span of uplighting. The Maven Rope Chandelier shown here is styled after the ring chandeliers used in Medieval times though the candles have been updated with light bulbs. These fixtures are great for general lighting in a room and, when used with a dimmer switch, can let you adjust the light to match the mood of the moment.


Down lighting, on the other hand, is great for task lighting in areas such as the kitchen, workshop, or on the craft table. A classic RLM warehouse shade such as this Union Gooseneck Light throws the light right onto the grill below with no harsh glare. When used outdoors, down lighting fixtures are dark-sky friendly which makes the stars easier to see and keeps your neighbors happy too!


Some fixtures give you the best of both worlds! Like our new Wallaby Cord Hung Pendant (on the right) and the Brisbane Industrial Cord Hung Pendant which give you both up and down lighting thanks to their unique design. A wide flared shade reflects light downward while uplighting is provided over the top of the shade through the glass.

barn pendant lighting

Although the shape of this shade provides a nice splash of downlighting, you can get a touch of uplighting with the Original™ Vented Warehouse Pendant. The unique style of this shade provides decorative points of light through the neck design. This hint of lighting is just another way to add a bit of modern flair to this iconic barn pendant.

 Gooseneck photo courtesy of Greg Daniels

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