My top lighting tips

Last month I went over to Paris for the design show Maison et Objet. I was invited by Hudson Valley Lighting Group, who you may not have heard of as they are a very large lighting company in America and just making their way over to Europe (and thank goodness, to be honest, as America has always had better lighting available than here in the UK in my opinion. They had a fab showroom at Maison where I could see their amazing lights in person and I came away with a long list of favourites and I still can’t get the thought of how beautiful these vintage brass wall lights would look in my alcoves! Hudson Valley Lighting Group have four collections of lights: Troy Lighting, Mitzi, Corbett Lighting and Hudson Valley Lighting. Each collection offers something different whether it be Corbett’s statement lights, Troy’s industrial vibe or the simplicity of Mitzi’s designs, which is also the most affordable collection. I featured some of the lights in my instagram stories and I ended up getting quite a few messages from people with lighting quandaries so I thought a blog post with some tips would be useful as lighting is without a doubt the most important thing to get right in a room. Hope these tips are helpful and enjoy taking a look at the beautiful lights from Hudson Valley.

1. Never ever use overhead lights in isolation

This is my number one rule and one that can never be broken!!! I really don’t think that there are ever any exceptions to this rule. A ceiling pendant or chandelier is very important (and can be very beautiful) but if used alone the overall lighting in the room will be uneven, gloomy and very unwelcoming. If all the light in a room is coming from above unpleasant shadows will be cast and pockets of the room will have no light at all. You can have the most beautifully furnished room in all the land but with only an overhead light it will be a very ugly place in which to spend time. A funny truth is that I got so sick and tired of arriving home in the evenings when Jules worked from home to all the over head lights on that I went to the extent of removing the bulbs altogether! Can you tell I feel quite strongly about this?!

The Mia lamp from the Mitzi collection.

2. Layer lighting

The solution to the above problem is to layer the lighting in each room. Try to build up a variety of light sources, which will create a lovely even light; where one light source casts shadows, another will illuminate them. Layered lighting will also make a room more flexible as you can choose which lights to use according to your mood or your activity. 

Layering a Silhouette pendant with wall sconces will help to create an even light. Photograph from Hella Design Studio.

3. Use floor and wall lamps if lacking table tops

Table lamps are a great way to add light around the edge of a room, where ceiling. pendants don’t reach. If you are lacking table tops for lamps – which aren’t in abundance in smaller rooms – use the floor and wall space with floor and wall lamps. Floor lamps take up much less space than a table with a lamp on it and they can fit into surprisingly small spaces or corners. Wall lamps, whether wired in or not, are brilliant for small spaces and can be very adaptable as they can double as task lighting if you choose one on an arm.

4. Choose a statement ceiling pendant

A well chosen ceiling pendant draws the eye up, which has the effect of opening up the space and making a room feel bigger. It can also be a lovely focal point for a room. Be aware of the height of the ceiling when choosing a ceiling light as you don’t ever want it to hang too low to the point that people have to dodge it! A mirror opposite a ceiling light is always a good idea as this will reflect the light and bounce it around the room.

A beautiful striking Roundout pendant draws the eye up and creates an amazing focal point for this bathroom that is mirrored by the centrally placed bath. Photographed by Rachel Cannon.

5. Think about what type of light you are trying achieve when selecting a shade

When you are choosing any type of light you have to have a clear idea of the type of light you want to create. This is particularly important where selecting light shades. It is most definitely not just about what looks best. Light coloured shades will allow light to travel out of them into the whole room, whereas dark coloured shades will filter the light out of the top and bottom of the light and create a moodier vibe. Glass light shades and exposed bulbs create a more even much brighter light depending on the type of bulb you choose. Rattan shades or cut paper ones will cast patterns on to your walls and ceiling. Think carefully what type of light you actually want rather than what light you like the look of most.

This gorgeous Balboa shade will cast amazing subtle patterns on the wall and ceiling so you need to think carefully about what type of light you want/need in a space when selecting shades.

6. Consider shadows

When choosing the position of lighting think about the shadows that will be cast. If you are choosing lights for the kitchen, for example, you don’t want pendants hanging over a kitchen counter that you are going to stand beneath and block all the light onto the very surface on which you are trying to illuminate. The same goes for lighting in the bathroom; if you have space put two wall lights either side of a bathroom mirror as these will light your face evenly rather than a light over the top of the mirror, which will cast shadows onto your face.

These Cora wall sconces are perfectly placed either side of the bathroom mirror to illuminate a face directly and evenly rather than from above that would cast horrible shadows. Photographed by Sarah Dorsey.

7. Dimmer switches are your best friend

We were really lucky in our current house as we had the whole place rewired so we could put dimmer switches onto every light and we could also ensure that all the plugs that our lamps are plugged into can be turned on and off from the main switches on the wall. Dimmer switches are just so good as they allow you to completely change the mood of a room and make the space so much more flexible; one minute you need bright, bright lights for a task and the next you minute you want to relax on the sofa and all you have to do is dim the lights. This is particularly useful in an open plan living space.

Dimmer switches on all lights in your home will be worth while so you can make each space as flexible as possible. Dimming the work top lights in an ‘eat-in’ kitchen when you’ve finished cooking will make the dining experience so much nicer. I love this Metal No.1 pendant. Photographed by Lindsay Salazar.

8. Think of lights as pieces of furniture

This sounds quite quite obvious but often it is something overlooked that you should select lights as you would a piece of furniture: they need to tie in with the overall scheme of a room. Think about the colour, finish, style, size just as you would a new chair or soft furnishings. A light should add something extra to the scheme of a room not takeaway from it.

This Estee pendant highlights and pulls together all of the other brass elements in this room to make it feel beautifully curated. Photographed by Brit Arnesen.

Do let me know if you have any other lighting questions as it really can be difficult to get right. Also, let me know which Hudson Valley Lighting Group light you liked best!

Katy x

*This blog post is part of a paid collaboration with Hudson Valley Lighting Group.



  1. Longdenlife
    14th October 2019 / 1:10 pm

    Beautiful lights, sadly completely out of my price range 🙁

  2. Lindsay
    9th September 2020 / 12:44 pm

    I absolutely love this post. Lighting is something I struggle with so much. We’re renovating our 1930s home including knocking down wall between kitchen and dining room so all open plan like yours and rewiring all the electrics and putting in new lighting. I’m curious to know what your opinion is of spot lighting? Is it best it have it in just the kitchen or should we invest in putting them in all/some of the rooms?

    • katy
      30th September 2020 / 1:50 pm

      We ended up getting spot lights in the bathroom, kitchen, dining room and hallway and the bathroom ones are the only ones I turn on ever! I really hate them everywhere else! A combination of wall lights, table and floor lamps and pendant lights make your lighting options so much more flexible, softer and cosier xx

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