When it comes to lighting, how does one choose?

Lighting

The plethora of lighting options for new builds or replacements in existing homes confounds the mind. The lighting industry is huge, delivering products from one shop artisans, conglomerate electronics lines and age old foundries.

Shapes, materials, accents and functions are seeming endless. Ceiling mounts, pendants, wall sconces, table lamps… How does one choose?

Allow me to illuminate my criteria. (ha, ha)

I’ve spent hours ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at the options. But it comes down to something even more important than cost. How do I keep the sucker clean and functioning?

Chains gather cobwebs from spiders you don’t even know you have. Spider webs are just sticky enough to coat themselves in the fine dust particles that escape your best efforts at sweeping, dusting and vacuuming. Add cooking and body oils atomized in steam – forget chained pendants and chandeliers in kitchens and bathrooms; chose rod extenders.

Glass lenses and shades gather equal dust and particulate as do metal, but glass is far easier to clean without affecting the surface. It’s almost guaranteed effectively cleaning metal or wood will deteriorate its patina.

Organic rope, jute, and textiles have weathered sand and sea for decades. But their perpetual restoration in fresh air prolongs their service life – again, steam is not their friend. Linen or flax shades? Gorgeous! But silks and polyesters shed dust far more easily.

Lighting that mounts incandescent bulbs upside down shortens bulb life. Sideways in “Sputnik” style lighting? I don’t know.

Outdoors, pendants or wall-hung lanterns won’t last long in gusty locals. Lights hung high require ladder and good personal balance to access. I’ve been ladder and balance challenged for years.

These realities narrow the field significantly.

Then there are the natural associations we modern humans have with shape and color: some lighting looks anatomical (think boobs and penises); some remind us of earlier eras, some invite us into futurism. Can you comfortably drift off to sleep under jagged spikes? Successfully apply make-up or shave cast in amber light?

Before you cash in your kid’s college account to grab the latest Dot & Bo “Industrial Chic” pendant or Murray Fleiss chandelier, consider how much time and effort you want to spend tending your lighting.

I want my electric lighting to serve me, not the other way round.

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