Bright Ideas: Can’t-Miss Lighting Tips from Designer Barbara Barry


When it comes to lighting a room, ideally everything is illuminated — but not too illuminated. You need to inhabit a happy middle ground between an East German Secret Police interrogation ambience and one reminiscent of feeling your way through Golum’s Cave. To help us see the light, we turned to the award-winning, L.A.–based interior designer Barbara Barry for her top tips on creating brilliant rooms. She put her 30-plus years of experience into five simple pointers:

Mind your overhead. As in, harsh overhead lighting. Barry is not a fan. “Never use it,” she says. “We did without it for centuries and still can. It’s so unflattering.” However, if your taste runs to chandeliers or pendants, see below dimmer tip or invest in low-wattage bulb with a soft, blush tint.

Live the high life. “Always place lamps just above eye level,” she says. “That way they’ll illuminate the whole room.”

Don’t overdo it. “Keep the design of lamps simple. They’re a source of light, not the decoration.”

Go dim. “Install dimmers when you can,” Barry says. “It allows you to control the mood.”

Be group-minded. To give a conversational grouping in a living room or den an intimate feel, “pick a floor lamp that isn’t too tall and slip it in next to a chair or end of a sofa,” she says. A bonus: This creates a welcoming spot to sit and lose yourself in the latest bestseller. Yes, we mean a book. With pages.

Start implementing these tips courtesy of the stylish designs in Gilt Home’s “Less Is More: Minimalist Lighting” sale, starting Wed. May 14th.

– Maria Ricapito

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