the old barn

a wagon wheel light fixture in a vaulted living room

How to Choose Light Fixtures for a Cohesive Look

May 3, 2023

Choosing light fixtures can be challenging, and even more so when you’re trying to select light fixtures for a whole house and make sure everything works well together!

I have been there. Twice. Completely overwhelmed and paralyzed to make decisions.

If you can relate, the good news is that I have found some strategies that helped me and I’m sharing them here with you!

Get your light fixture needs organized

First, go through your floor plan room by room. Make a list of all the rooms and all the fixtures and sizes needed for each room. There are plenty of Lighting Sizing Guides on Pinterest to help you figure out that you need one big fixture (40″-48″) for a 20×20 Living Room and how many pendants to put over your island.

To make it super easy for you, I’m sharing my Lighting Spreadsheet which is included (along with lots of other valuable checklists, templates, and tips) in our Bootstrap Builders Guide: A Blueprint for Self-Contracting your Home Build.

Get your whole house Light Fixtures Design Spreadsheet and stay organized!

Start a Light Fixture Board on Pinterest

They say a picture is worth a thousand words! Keep reading and you’ll learn how it can be worth a THOUSAND DOLLARS too!!

Start pinning your heart out.

Pin fixtures you love specific for rooms…for the Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Daughter’s Room, etc.

Step back and look for patterns among what you’ve pinned.

Did you pin mostly black, gold, nickel or brass fixtures? What styles attracted you?

Once you find your most common color and style, do searches for more options in those areas, and pin more!

Do these light fixtures work with your furniture and overall design and home’s style?

kitchen guide for home design

A charming living room in a farmhouse with vaulted ceiling and a vintage inspired wagon wheel light fixture
This vintage inspired wagon wheel light fixture adds historical charm.

Metals and Finishes

I’d recommend sticking to one metal for fixtures that can “see each other”.

For example, my Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen are open concept and the fixtures are all within view of each other, so I stuck with nickel for each of these light fixtures.

However, some are polished nickel and others are brushed nickel, which works!

My Guest Bathroom, however is not really visible from these areas, so I went with gold cabinet hardware and light fixtures in there. I also mixed in a couple nickel items like the faucet and the mounting plate on the light fixture.

gold lighting and hardware

The B word rears it’s ugly head: Budget

Most people have a budget they’re trying to stick to.

Lighting was one area I was determined to save some money.

Pro: it’s pretty easy to upgrade or change light fixtures later.

Con: changing out fixtures later means you may be paying more in the long run…once for the cheap fixture, and again for the upgrade, versus starting with the right one to begin with.

My advice is to go cheaper in the secondary and private spaces like bathrooms, halls, and kids rooms. And get the best fixture you can for your budget in the public areas like the Foyer, Living, Dining, and Kitchen.

Light fixtures in hallways and vestibules can often go unnoticed by you and guests, so don’t spend a lot in these areas.

Shop outside the box

Check out outlets, salvage and resale shops, and FB Marketplace for great lighting deals for the secondary spaces. This is a great way to save money and/or find really unique statement or vintage light fixtures.

Our chandelier over the tub in the Primary Bath is an open box return from Pottery Barn Outlet.

Wayfair also has lots of open box deals on lighting!

Our pantry light fixture, which is probably never noticed or seen is a super cute farmhouse style pendant I found for $5 at a ReStore (by Habitat for Humanity).

Finds like that can really help if the Living Room fixture of your dreams is a bit over budget. It’s all about balance!

The next step is a game changer for finding best prices for light fixtures!

Use this Easy way to find the best price for Lighting Fixtures

This is a tip my frugal shopping secret that you probably won’t find anywhere else…at least not at the time I’m writing this.

  1. Narrow each room’s fixtures down to 1-2 favorites from your Pinterest boards.
  2. Keep your lighting sizing guide handy (just search for one on Pinterest).
  3. On your phone or iPad, go to a pin on Pinterest of your favorite Living Room Fixture.
  4. Take a screenshot of the pin, crop it down to just the image, and save it to your photos.
  5. Go back to Pinterest and tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom, then in the search bar, tap the camera icon.
  6. This will make it look like your camera is about to take a picture, but instead, tap the little square image in the lower left, which will take you to your photos on your device.
  7. Select the screenshot you just took of the light fixture, and Pinterest will do a VISUAL SEARCH and show you a bunch of light fixtures just like it and very similar ones along with their prices so you can compare! Click on the SHOP tab at the top to see all the fixtures, sources, and prices!

Here are some screenshots of the process which sounds more complicated than it is.

Tip: make sure the size is what you need for your space before ordering. Sometimes light fixtures look the same but are in fact a different size. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

Order All coordinating Lighting Fixtures at One Time

At this point, you should have a good idea of which light fixtures you want for each space.

I’d start with the main spaces, and the most important ones that really need to coordinate well with each other.

In my case, it was the foyer, Office, Living, Dining, Kitchen, and Stair Hall.

These were the ones that were going to be seen the most and probably take most of the budget.

Ordering at once, I was able to see if I would need to make adjustments in my plan if something was out of stock, discontinued or not going to work out.

This is not necessary, but in my experience, it’s what I needed to do, so I wasn’t just willy-nilly choosing light fixtures that weren’t going to coordinate or fit in my budget.

Other fixtures that didn’t need to be coordinated could be added later within the remaining budget.

Links to most of my lighting:

Curated Light fixtures in various finishes and styles:

Click here for more shopable images of light fixtures

I hope you found this helpful and that you now feel prepared and confident to make solid informed lighting decisions for your new home!

If you are building a home, consider joining our Bootstrap Builders Program: The SMART way to Self-Contract Your Dream Home.

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