A designer’s favorite light fixtures

I have found a number of reliable, classic clean-lined light fixtures that work in just about any home. And most of them are readily available with little or no lead time. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Task lights. To me, the best task light is Artemide’s Tolomeo. Designed in 1986, the award-winning polished-aluminum double-arm fixture comes in a variety of sizes, from a micro desktop model to a large standing floor version. There are many applications for the Tolomeo—it can be hard-wired on either side of a bed, clipped onto a bookcase or beam, or placed on the floor on a solid base. The fixture’s arm moves up and down easily, and the head swivels 360 degrees, making it an ideal reading lamp. The only downside is that the aluminum head can get hot to the touch—an easy issue to solve, as the company also makes the fixture with a parchment shade.

2. Sconces. The tailored lines of Vaughan’s Norfolk wall sconce make it adaptable to both modern and traditional settings. The fixture gives off a soft, diffused ambient light. The Norfolk is the perfect scale for entryways, hallways, powder rooms and libraries. The base is available in three finishes: brass, nickel and bronze.

My other sconce staple is the clip-on Lunette from David Weeks. The chic $32 glass-fiber-paper shade that clips onto a standard naked bulb is ideal for those on a budget.

3. Pendants. For most kids’ rooms, I use some version of the Nelson Bubble Lamps. The sturdy fixtures have a steel skeleton covered in a translucent washable plastic. They come in a variety of whimsical shapes, such as a flying saucer and a full moon, and I have yet to meet a kid who did not have a strong opinion about which one he or she wanted. For families with several children, I typically use a different shape in each kid’s room. The fixture, like most pendants, comes with an adjustable electrical cord so you can hang it as low or high as you want.

Kitchens and entryways usually call for a more solid-looking and substantial pendant, such as Thomas O’Brien’s Hicks Large Pendant, available through Circa Lighting. The fixture comes in two sizes and four finishes, so it’s easy to find one that works. I particularly like the bronze and antique-brass version; the warm-toned mixed-metal combo is useful when a room has multiple finishes.

4. Flush mounts. I have a repertory of flush mounts that I use for hallways, bathrooms and dressing rooms. Restoration Hardware’s Barton and Harmon flush mounts work well in bathrooms; I usually use the hexagon-shaped Barton in more feminine bathrooms and the simple Harmon in more masculine settings. Both fixtures come in three sizes and four finishes.

Designer Alexa Hampton’s Basil and Sophia flush mounts are more decorative than those from Restoration Hardware. They, too, are available in different sizes and finishes, but their shapes—the Basil is
clover-shaped and the Sophia star-shaped—are more unexpected and jewel-like. I like to use them in dressing rooms and vestibules where there is little opportunity for other decoration.

For hallways where several fixtures in a row are needed, I like to use Eric Cohler’s Star Flush Mount. Not everyone likes the fixture at first (clients are turned off—no pun intended—by the exposed bulb), but when it is paired with a silver-tipped bulb, they usually change their minds. I also use the fixture inside walk-in closets to upgrade utilitarian porcelain sockets.

For more casual hallways—back halls and mudrooms—I often use Restoration Hardware’s Vintage Barn Flush Mounts. Available in seven finishes and three sizes, these iconic fixtures are friendly, affordable and adaptable.

—Elizabeth Mayhew | The Washington Post

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