Therese Interior Design

collaboration is the key to design

Lighting is magical

“Light is the magical ingredient that makes or breaks a space; it’s one of the most important elements in all my interiors.”— Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Interior Designer.

With that in mind, here are some Basic Lighting Tips to consider in your Design Plans.

Every room should have balanced lighting which falls into three categories:

  • Ambient
  • Task
  • Sparkle

Walk into your kitchen. Look around. The overhead lights are ambient. If you have windows in your kitchen, the natural light filtering through is ambient. Ambient lighting refers to the general light that is necessary to function in a space.

If you have under-cabinet kitchen lighting, that is Task. Table lamps, recessed lights, track lighting systems, pendants, puck lights and LED strip lighting are working examples of task lighting.

Sparkle is that extra wow factor. Sparkle is sensational! It sets the mood and enhances architectural features. Chandeliers, MR16s, sconces, Christmas lights, candles (including battery powered votives) are examples of Sparkle lighting.

Now take a walk into that uninspired room in your home  Look around. Do you have ambient, task and sparkle and is it balanced throughout the space or focused all in one corner?

Layer your light sources and place them at different heights throughout the room.

Have fun with all your surfaces. Don’t forget your ceiling. For example, you can trick the eye into making a room look larger than it is by incorporating cove lighting to illuminate a tray ceiling which has been painted with a high gloss finish.

To make an unexpected design statement, hang a chandelier directly under a skylight

To triple the overall lighting effect in your space, always add dimmers.

Try your hand at the inside of your lampshade. By applying a gold or silver reflective liner, you are helping reflect light away from the shade and up top/out bottom of fixture. This keeps outer appearance of shade the same color whether light is on/off and increases overall light output.

Totally experiment with light bulbs.

I asked Interior Designer gal pal Theresa Seabaugh (Seabaugh – and member of The Design Cartel) her Illuminating Tips:

“It is important to know that light bulbs are different colors. Do not mix colors in your room!”

“My all time favorite bulb is GE Reveal. If you can find it, buy the box! GE Reveal comes in both Edison bulb shape & flood.

It casts a warm light with a slightly pink color. It lights up your skin, while lighting up your room.

By contrast, CFL’s cast a harsh light, which makes skin look sickly green….”

If by now you realize your lighting plan is a bit dismal, then it is time to go Shopping!

Here’s what I do.



First, start sourcing online prior to purchase. Some of my favorite sites:

  • Lamps Plus
  • Crystorama
  • WAC Lighting
  • Luna Bella
  • Lutron
  • Rejuvenation
  • Shades of Light

Once you have sourced a fixture, test drive it at your local showroom. It is critical that you see the fixture in person – and lit!  You will be amazed at how completely and utterly different a fixture looks online or in a catalogue versus in person. It is simply two different animals.

Some Showrooms will work with you and actually order a sample for you to view prior to purchase.  Personally, I like AC Electric in Smithtown. Tell Mike that Therese sent you!

So what are Today’s Lighting Hot Trends?

Sustainable materials woven into the overall design – example:  bamboo and natural stone .

We are also seeing Traditional elements overlaid with a Modern edge.



Energy efficiency – LED lights take the lead. Lower utility bills and long-lasting luminescence. LED tape strips that are supremely thin and about an inch wide are hot. They can be used for cove lighting, niche areas, back lighting mirrors and under cabinets.

Finishes – Brushed nickel is passe!  Polished and shiny nickel and chrome are taking the lead.

Finally, find yourself in your space. Have fun and be sure to inject your personality. Take a page from Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Interior Designer, whose signature ‘feathers’ find a home in his beautifully sculpted spaces.