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The Complete Homeowner’s Guide to Light Fixtures

image of pendant lights with Edison bulbs and no globes in a hipster restaurant.

Light fixtures play a crucial role in the ambiance, functionality, and style of your home. Selecting the right fixtures can transform a space, making it more inviting, practical, and visually appealing. This comprehensive guide covers everything homeowners in Middle Tennessee, including Nashville and Murfreesboro, need to know about light fixtures—from selection to installation techniques and maintenance.

Understanding the Basics of Light Fixtures

Light fixtures can be broadly categorized into ceiling fixtures, wall fixtures, and portable lamps. Ceiling fixtures include chandeliers, pendants, and flush mounts, which are ideal for providing general lighting in living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. Chandeliers add a touch of elegance and are perfect for dining rooms, while pendants offer versatility and are often used over kitchen islands or dining tables. Flush mounts, on the other hand, are suitable for rooms with low ceilings where hanging fixtures might be impractical.

Wall fixtures, such as sconces and wall lamps, provide task and accent lighting. Sconces can flank a bathroom mirror or enhance the aesthetics of a hallway, while wall lamps are great for reading nooks or beside beds. Portable lamps, including table and floor lamps, offer flexibility and can be moved around as needed. They are ideal for task lighting in living rooms, bedrooms, and offices.

A white light fixture junction box sitting on a wooden tabletop background.

Light fixtures also come with different types of bulbs, each offering varying levels of brightness, color temperature, and energy efficiency. Incandescent bulbs are known for their warm light but are less energy-efficient. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan. LEDs, in particular, are popular for their versatility and range of color temperatures, from warm white to cool daylight.

Selecting the Right Light Fixtures

Choosing the right light fixture involves considering the purpose of the light, the style of the room, and the overall design theme of your home. Start by assessing the function of the light. For instance, task lighting is essential in areas where activities such as reading, cooking, or working are performed. In these areas, bright, focused light is necessary. Ambient lighting, which provides overall illumination, should be softer and more diffused.

The style of the light fixture should complement the room’s decor. In Middle Tennessee, where homes often feature a blend of traditional and contemporary designs, you might find rustic chandeliers blending seamlessly with modern minimalist furniture. Consider the materials and finishes of the fixtures. Brass and bronze finishes add warmth and an antique look, while chrome and nickel provide a sleek, modern feel.

Different Styles of Light Fixtures

There is a wide range of light fixture styles to choose from, each bringing a unique character to your home. Traditional light fixtures often feature intricate designs, with materials such as brass and crystal. These are perfect for creating a sophisticated look in formal spaces like dining rooms and foyers. Contemporary fixtures, with their clean lines and geometric shapes, are ideal for modern homes, adding a touch of simplicity and elegance.

Rustic light fixtures, inspired by natural elements and often made from wood and metal, bring warmth and charm to spaces. They are particularly popular in Nashville’s historic homes and Murfreesboro’s suburban residences. Industrial-style fixtures, characterized by their raw, unfinished look, are also gaining popularity. They feature exposed bulbs, metal finishes, and utilitarian designs, making them a great choice for lofts and modern kitchens.

Coastal and nautical styles are another trend, especially in areas with a rich historical connection to river trade like Middle Tennessee. These fixtures often incorporate materials like rope, driftwood, and seashells, and they use a color palette of whites, blues, and sandy neutrals to evoke a breezy, seaside feel.

Installation Techniques

Installing light fixtures can range from simple to complex, depending on the type of fixture and its location. For homeowners in Middle Tennessee, including areas like Nashville and Murfreesboro, it’s essential to follow local electrical codes and safety standards.

Image of cameron wilson, uninstalling a dated light fixture to be replaced by a modern LED light fixture.

Before starting any installation, turn off the power at the circuit breaker to avoid electrical shock. For ceiling fixtures, ensure that the electrical box can support the weight of the fixture. If you’re installing a heavy chandelier, you might need to reinforce the ceiling joist or use a fan brace. When installing wall sconces, measure the height to ensure they provide adequate lighting and avoid glare.

For pendant lights, consider the height at which they hang. Over kitchen islands or dining tables, pendants should hang 30 to 36 inches above the surface. For floor and table lamps, placement is key to achieving the desired lighting effect. Ensure that floor lamps don’t obstruct pathways and that table lamps are proportionate to the furniture they accompany.

Outdoor light fixture installation also requires careful planning. Pathway lights should be spaced evenly to provide a safe and welcoming approach to your home. Porch lights should be mounted at eye level to avoid glare while providing adequate illumination for the entryway. When installing outdoor fixtures, use weather-resistant materials and ensure proper sealing to protect against moisture and other elements.

Smart Lighting Solutions

The advent of smart home technology has revolutionized the way we use light fixtures. Smart bulbs and lighting systems can be controlled via smartphone apps, voice commands, or automation systems. These systems allow you to adjust brightness, color temperature, and even the color of the light to suit different moods and activities.

Smart lighting can also be programmed to follow a schedule, which can enhance security by making it appear that someone is home even when the house is empty. Integration with other smart home devices, such as motion sensors and security cameras, can further enhance the functionality and convenience of your lighting system.

A beautiful modern farmhouse kitchen highlighting the best of recessed lighting, pendant lights, and under cabinet lights.

Maintenance and Safety

Maintaining light fixtures involves regular cleaning and timely replacement of bulbs. Dust and dirt can accumulate on fixtures, reducing their brightness and aesthetic appeal. Use a soft cloth to wipe down fixtures and avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the finish. For glass shades and covers, remove them periodically and wash with mild soap and water.

Safety is paramount when dealing with electrical fixtures. Regularly inspect your light fixtures for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed wires or loose connections. If you notice any issues, it’s best to consult a licensed electrician. In areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens, use fixtures rated for damp or wet locations to prevent electrical hazards.

For outdoor fixtures, check regularly for signs of corrosion or damage caused by weather exposure. Replace any damaged parts promptly to maintain the safety and functionality of your lighting system. During the winter months in Middle Tennessee, consider installing fixtures that are resistant to frost and condensation to avoid malfunctions.

Enhancing Home Value with Light Fixtures

Well-chosen light fixtures can significantly enhance the value of your home. In Middle Tennessee, where the real estate market is competitive, investing in high-quality, stylish fixtures can make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Consider upgrading outdated fixtures with modern, energy-efficient options. LED fixtures, for example, not only save on energy costs but also have a longer lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

Outdoor lighting is another crucial aspect that can boost curb appeal. Pathway lights, porch lights, and landscape lighting create a welcoming atmosphere and enhance security. Motion sensor lights and smart lighting systems add convenience and are attractive features for tech-savvy buyers.

An image of a beutiful home at sunset with strikingly bold exterior light fixtures (modern sconces)

Accent lighting can also be used to highlight architectural features and landscaping elements, making your property stand out in the neighborhood. By strategically placing lights to highlight trees, pathways, and water features, you can create a visually stunning exterior that enhances the overall appeal of your home.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

With growing awareness of environmental issues, energy efficiency has become a key consideration in lighting design. LED bulbs are the most energy-efficient lighting option available, using up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and lasting up to 25 times longer. CFLs are also more efficient than incandescents but have been largely surpassed by LEDs in terms of both performance and cost-effectiveness.

In addition to using energy-efficient bulbs, consider fixtures with dimmer switches and motion sensors to further reduce energy consumption. Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the brightness of a room according to your needs, saving energy when full brightness is not required. Motion sensors ensure that lights are only on when needed, which is particularly useful for outdoor lighting and areas like garages and basements.

Solar-powered light fixtures are another eco-friendly option for outdoor lighting. These fixtures use solar panels to collect energy from the sun during the day, which is then stored in batteries and used to power the lights at night. Solar lights are easy to install, as they do not require any wiring, and they reduce your reliance on grid electricity, contributing to lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint.


Selecting and installing the right light fixtures is an essential aspect of home improvement that can transform your living spaces. By understanding the different types and styles of fixtures, and following proper installation and maintenance practices, you can enhance the beauty, functionality, and value of your home. For homeowners in Middle Tennessee, including Nashville and Murfreesboro, investing in quality lighting solutions is a smart way to elevate your home’s appeal. At Wilson Custom Builders, we are committed to helping you make the best choices for your lighting needs, ensuring that your home is both stylish and functional.


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