How To: Decorating With Lighting

Gang, Let’s Get Lit!

There’s no better fix for a room that lacks punch and pizzazz than changing out the lighting scheme.

How To: Decorating With Lighting

The before: the House of Bedlam kitchen with its massive fluorescent fixture that was supposed to make it feel like sunshine spilling in. Eek.

And that doesn’t mean that you need hire an electrician tout de suite, but rather make sure that you have a terrific mix of a chandelier, table lamps, perhaps a sconce, and floor lamps.

And if you can afford to have a dimmer switch control installed for every overhead light in your home, pull the trigger and pronto. There’s nothing better in life than a dimmer switch, except, maybe, well, gin.

A few lighting tips:

  1. Don’t forget picture lighting for artwork, so if you have the electrician coming over to install dimmer switches, have him add a few outlets behind your artwork, too, to plug in that art lighting.
  2. Details, details! Beautiful lampshades can make all the difference in a room, so don’t overlook affordable,
    How To: Decorating With Lighting

    The after: a tip-to-toe overhaul that included the addition of vintage-style lanterns over the vintage island. Recessed lighting scattered about the Thibaut wallpapered ceiling offers additional directional lighting, and the mix of pendants and in-ceiling fixtures is spot on.

    web-centric sources such as Lamps Plus and Anthropologie. You can also go the custom route for your shades thanks to sources such as Elle Daniel and The Lampshade Lady. And don’t forget to layer-in trim.

  3. Mix vintage lamps with new to create a layered look in a space. Who wants a home that looks like a brand-new showroom, n’est-ce pas?
  4. Change out boring plastic cords on your table lamps for colorful fabric-wrapped cording, available online (Try the Color Cord Company). And find a local hardware store—or handyman—that can switch out your cords once you have selected stunning new color ways.
  5. Look to big-box stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot for great lighting: We are especially partial to their outdoor lighting that we repurpose for indoor use.

Let’s take a look at some more of the Madcap gent’s favorite lighting moments in our far-flung projects:

How To: Decorating With Lighting

The dining room of our former Brooklyn home. A contemporary chandelier from our friends at Currey & Co. (topped with bespoke chandelier lampshades) paired with vintage table lamps and Deco-styled torchieres brought this colorful space to life.

How To: Decorating With Lighting

A vintage bamboo-styled table lamp pairs wonderfully with an oversized contemporary work of art. Note the black paper lampshade that helps ground the piece, i.e. Use black as a neutral in rooms with heaps of color.

How To: Decorating With Lighting

Purchased at a flea market in Miami, this pink-painted Hollywood Regency traveled with the Madcaps to various homes, including the dining room at our apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The custom chandelier shades are crafted from a favorite Sister Parish fabric pattern, Burma (Parish is a Madcap heroine).

How To: Decorating With Lighting

Looking into the Madcap Cottage gents’ House of Bedlam living room from the foyer. A pair of vintage floor lamps sits on either side of the sofa. We had a floor outlet installed under the living room’s vintage rug and had our rug installer make a cut-out in the rug to allow the floor lamp cords to be plugged in. If you are renovating a home, be sure to think about the placement of your outlets and whether you have enough. We hate arriving at a hotel and finding no outlets on either side of the bed, a real pet peeve. If I cannot charge my phone—aka, LaVerne—easily, all bets are off.

How To: Decorating With Lighting

The Madcaps’ former living room in Brooklyn, a favorite haunt of our pound-rescue Boston-Boxer mix, Jasper. The vintage chandelier hails from an antiques show that took place in the Hamptons, and we paired the chinoiserie fantasy with heaps of table lamps. We decided not to add recessed lighting in the ceiling to keep the room’s vibe very English country house, and the decision was absolutely correct. The space had plenty of light but was also decidedly moody. Perfection.

2 replies
  1. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn says:

    Grew up in lighting industry, Currey is my trade favorite next VIsual C. Nice article, love it! I love you guys have had cut outs of your designs going back years! Perhaps I’ll have a chance to meet you someday. Best Always, Sharon


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