4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan

When I work on lighting plans for individual rooms, whether for clients or in my own home, I always think of the house holistically. I think of transitions and sight lines, which fixtures will take center stage vs. which will play supporting roles.

I also always think about my flow of finishes. In many historical homes like mine, you see differences in the ground and second floors, public vs. private rooms, where the homeowners wanted to make a “good impression” vs. spaces only the homeowners saw. The ground floor would have more detail in the moldings and higher ceilings. The second floor bedrooms and, in later centuries, the bathrooms — the private areas — would be less detailed or formal.


How does this transition of spaces work within the lighting plan of our Remuddle Remodel project?


Creating Lighting Flow on Our First Floor


Regarding style of lighting within our home, I have a mix of some vintage fixtures and lamps along with fresh twists on classic looks from current lighting manufacturers.

So, for example, in my home — my finishes mimic that transition of public to private, formal to less formal spaces. In the entertaining spaces of our ground floor (entry, library, dining room, now kitchen), I have antiqued brass fixtures. In “service” areas, I bring in a bit of bronze (which has a natural affinity with brass) for a less formal effect. Our second floor is even less formal that that, with farmhouse moldings and 7.5′ ceilings, so I completely switch to bronze  in the transition areas like the stairs and landing, and then to nickel in bedrooms and bathrooms.


I have these fixtures in the entry, which, to me, look “updated Edwardian” …



… a vintage pressed glass chandelier in the dining room that I got from Etsy …



… and very classic sconces mixed with 1950s Murano lamps in the library.



In the case of our Remodeling a Remuddle, I created the lighting plan for the new kitchen, butler’s pantry/laundry, and boot room thinking back to what I had already done in those other ground floor spaces as shown above.


For style, I utilized the same vintage or vintage-inspired mix with fresh classics. For finishes, I stuck to brass for the lighting fixtures, and mixed in other finishes with plumbing fixtures and hardware.


I am thrilled to work once again with Hudson Valley Lighting, with which I also collaborated on this mixed-finish lighting project.


1. Start with your focal light fixture and work outwards.


With lighting plans, it’s good to start with your focal light fixture and develop your supporting cast of fixtures from there. I actually had a really hard time putting my stake in the ground with this one, but with some help from the Handsome Husband, we chose this fresh/classic sputnik chandelier to anchor the sitting area of the “converted porch” portion of our kitchen.


4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan, Dunkirk



The HH said he felt it was the most “optimistic” option. With that comment, I was sold.


It also helped that it relates beautifully to the sparkle in the glass chandelier in our dining room. 🙂


2. Consider the competition — balance statement & scale for fixtures in close proximity.


With a need for a number of light fixtures in a single open floor plan space, there was no way that I could have both a statement chandelier in the sitting area and statement pendants over the kitchen work table only 12 feet away.


Which is really hard to say, because there are sooooo many great pendants out there! But I don’t think I want this kind of diva competition going on in my kitchen!


I worked outwards with these 19th century-inspired rise & fall pendants from Hector Finch (trade only) —


4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan



— demure in scale but I love the pretty aqua, and understated perimeter lighting bringing back the opal glass I used in the main entry hall from above.


Garden City Sconce in Opal Glass Hudson Valley Lighting

Garden City Sconce


Notice the opal glass pendant in Gosford Park’s kitchen?


4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan, Gosford Park Kitchen


Moving into the butler’s pantry/laundry, I chose vintage-inspired utilitarian fixtures — bare bulbs and all that — that reminded me of turn-of-the-century “below stairs.”


4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan, turn of the century butler's pantry

via Jane Austen’s World


I mixed this sconce for over the sink with a flush mount. (I love the star motif! Just a nice little detail that isn’t in your face.) Neither of these fixtures is a standout, they just work beautifully and harmoniously together in this small space.  And frankly, with the green cabinetry, I didn’t need another diva in this room.


4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan

Heirloom Sconce, Bethesda Flush Mount


3. Reference recurring motifs — but not too exactly!


In the boot room, I brought back the opal glass again. Like in the main entry, this one has a dome shape, but a nice twist with the cage brass enclosure. The 5″ depth is perfect for this 7′ (yikes!!) ceiling.


4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan, Conrad Flush Mount



While I nearly always try to have 7′ of space below any ceiling fixture, I didn’t want a can light here, and I don’t personally have anyone over 6’7″ in my acquaintance. 



4. Map out your entire floor’s lighting flow.


When I present to clients, I create a lighting plan much like the below.


4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan


However, since our Remuddle Remodel is only a few rooms compared to the rest of our first floor, I quickly mocked up our entire ground floor plan to show you how our lighting scheme plays out in its entirety. The measurements for the rooms are not exact, but you get the general idea. 😉


Home Glow Design 1st Floor Lighting Plan


Even if you’re only decorating one room at a time, I highly suggest doing this mapping process as you go. It will allow you to begin visualizing your home as a whole.


Any questions about creating lighting flow? Check out these two posts for more ideas on the same topic:

How to Create Lighting Flow That Isn’t Boring

Mix & Match Lighting Finishes in the Same Room


My Chairish shop still has a few items left from the Cottages & Bungalows 2019 Project House at final markdowns.


Take advantage of this opportunity to purchase gold-standard American made furniture at below trade pricing!


Home Glow Design Shop on Chairish


Next week (Thanksgiving weekend) I’ll be back with my personal favorite finds (trends, shmends!) from the 2019 Fall High Point Market. It’s a post you won’t want to miss!

See you next Saturday.


6 thoughts on “4 Tips for Creating Lighting Flow & Our First Floor Lighting Plan”

  1. Great post, and so timely as I am about to close on a 1913 house that needs all new (well, historical or historically inspired lighting. It had already occurred to me to create “flow” from room to room, but this help clarify the idea for me.

    1. Wonderful! And congrats on your new home. The teens are one of my FAVORITE architectural eras. I’m a smidge jealous 🙂

  2. Love this! I’ve been simmering on fixtures for a couple years now as I slowly replace 80’s shell lights and the cheapest semi flushes through our mostly-open-floor lighting plan and I’m finally getting a handle on things. I have a lot of the same considerations – several pendant/chandelier opportunities all in sight of each other so deciding what the big moment will be, keeping the others interesting but quieter, needing some unobtrusive flush mounts for brightness, making everything cohesive but not matchy. I’m checking out the posts you linked, too.

    1. Open floor plans can be challenging, for sure. Create your zones, determine what types of lighting you need per zone, and think about your sight lines from there. Good luck!

  3. Amy, this is the best tip I’ve ever read about lighting! I’ve read about layering but never about planning your lighting in such an easy and helpful way. I’m wondering if you were thinking about something doubtful and not sure how to execute technically (for instance, adding a fake fireplace in a dining room) what specialist would you go? or maybe what website would you look up?

    1. I’m so glad it was helpful, Lisa!!

      I rely a lot on my GCs & sub-tradespeople to help me figure out how to do the ideas in my head. An excellent & open minded GC is worth his weight in gold, with a lot of background knowledge about what it possible and what it could cost.

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