Lighting, if you think about it, is a lot like jewelry: It really finishes off a house the way a woman’s necklace completes an outfit. But unlike, say, a pair of earrings—which are totally useless except for aesthetics—lighting has an important, if not obvious, job to do. Visit a well-designed house and you’ll likely see an interior integrated with cool pendants, task lighting, spot lighting, and, perhaps, a reading lamp or two. You don’t have to pay a lot to get good light fixtures, but you will have to pony up if you want them to be great. Today, you can find good options at www.ikea.com, www.homedepot.com, and www.lowes.com, but if you have the money, you can find cooler (though pricier fare) at www.formplusfunction.com, www.destinationlighting.com, www.lightinguniverse.com, www.lumens.com, www.olighting.com, and www.ylighting.com. Here are some from brands that I like.
Leave it up to IKEA to offer inexpensive lighting that looks this simple and cool. Made from PVC, polypropylene, and polycarbonate plastic, the Melodi pendant will cost you a mere $12.99. Hard to beat that. www.ikea.com.
Hampton Bay, the Home Depot brand, offers some better than average designs that won’t embarrass you when your friends stop by to sample the Australian riesling you’ve been talking about. This glass and steel mini pendant would be excellent over a bar or island, and at $26, perfect for your kitchen renovation. www.homedepot.com.
Seriously, you don’t really need a shade. You can go the minimalist route with these $50 NUD Collection pendants with vibrant-colored cord and exposed socket. (Is it any wonder the company is based in Sweden?) Cords come in eight colors. www.nudcollection.com.
Contrary to what you typically see (and probably do), vanity lights are best when they’re on both sides of your bath mirror—at face level. That’s where this Glomar Link collection double-tube wall sconce will come in handy. Priced at $164, it’s made from satin white glass and has a brushed nickel finish. www.homedepot.com.
Every now and then you need something bold—sort of like, “Go-to-Hell” lighting! The Tech Lighting Savoy pendant could be the one. Made from art glass, the teardrop-shape fixture measures about 13.5 inches and costs about $230 to about $396. www.techlighting.com.
It is said that the Tolomeo might be the second-most famous lamp line in the world. (Not sure which one is first) This declaration largely comes from the manufacturer, but whatever. What is a fact is that architects love the line. It’s available in wall, floor, and tabletop versions. This 7-10-12 Wall Shade is made from polished aluminum and parchment paper or pale grey satin and polycarbonate fiber blend. It costs about $400. www.artemide.us.
You wouldn’t think that something so simple could cost $605, but that’s what you’ll have to fork over if you want the Random Light. Manufactured by The Netherlands-based firm Moooi, the fixture is made from fiberglass soaked in epoxy resin that is randomly coiled around an inflatable beach ball. The beach ball is then deflated and extracted. Genius! www.moooi.com.
This Cage Mic suspension lamp is not for everyone, but if you have a loft in a hip urban spot, you probably get it. Produced by Italian lighting powerhouse Foscarini, Cage is inspired by miners’ and workers’ lamps so it has a protective metal cage that becomes a decorative element. Simple, yes. Affordable, no: $743. www.foscarini.com.
You can’t write about cool lighting and not include something from Louis Poulsen. The Collage pendant consists of three extruded acrylic shade that have been carefully staggered to avoid any direct glare from the light source. It’s available in two sizes and five finishes, and it costs $1,042. www.louispoulsen.com.