Eight Rules For Lighting Design

Corey Damen Jenkins shows how to select the “Jewelry of the Room” with confidence

A savvy lighting plan, distinguished by sensational fixtures, is an often overlooked opportunity to enthrall clients and demonstrate creative talent, according to design star Corey Damen Jenkins. At the launch of his new 18-piece collection with Hudson Valley Lighting, Corey’s “Decorative Lighting: Making Choices with Confidence” seminar shared his secrets for lighting designs that dazzle.

Rule #1: Form follows function – but there are always exceptions

“I felt lighting was a weak point in my business,” said Crystal Ortiz, owner of Bluestone Decorating of Harrisonburg, VA. “I didn’t want it to be lamp, lamp here, chandelier there. Corey taught us to make it part of a cohesive design by creating a vision for our lighting.”

“Lighting shouldn’t be an afterthought. Start with a Wow! factor fixture.”

“There are so many exciting options for lighting a room – lamps, sconces, chandeliers, and wall fixtures,” said Jenkins. “Make a visual statement. Don’t be intimidated and pick wisely with confidence.”

Rule #2: Consider what lies beneath and double-check your scale

“You need at least seven feet of clearance under a lighting fixture, and you must consider the size and shape that will work best with the furnishings,” said Jenkins. “While the design of the lighting plan is an art, the location, including placement of floor plugs and avoidance of dark spaces, is a science.”

“Being reminded to use the right scale for the overall room size, especially in very large spaces, was extremely helpful.”

Rule #3: Design your furniture layout simultaneously with your lighting plan

Jenkins is on a mission to encourage designers to select lighting fixtures at the start of their projects and gave several good reasons to do so. “If lighting isn’t included early in the budget process, you may end up with inexpensive fixtures. You need to have proper light for the space, and you must be able to do this with a price point that doesn’t compromise the visual aesthetic. When you plan your furniture and lighting together, your budget can include some elegant signature pieces.”

“If you go cheap, the rest of the room will be perceived that way because folks always look at the ceiling first.”

Rule #4: Remember lighting is the “jewelry” of the room

Lighting brightens a room in many more ways than just by adding illumination. “A stunning lighting fixture enhances the entire space,” said Jenkins, “In the same way that a great piece of jewelry classes up a plain outfit.”

Rule #5: Mixing finishes and brands is chic! Break the rules!

“When you think about lighting fixtures as the room’s jewelry, it opens up new options” said Hintze. “I wear silver with gold without worrying about it. Now, I’m not afraid to push the envelope and use different complementary finishes for my lighting fixtures.”

Rule #6: Consider curb appeal when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures

While Jenkins promotes an eclectic look for interior lighting design, his rule for outdoor is entirely different. “You want a unified appearance. Step back 40 or 50 feet and make sure the lighting is consistent. Walkways and entrances should be well lit for safety. The arrangement of your outdoor lighting impacts the first impression you create for the home. Give it the attention it deserves.”

“Don’t mix looks on exterior lighting.”

Rule #7: Encourage clients to invest in themselves by “splurging” on high-end lighting

“If my clients push back on spending thousands of dollars on one fantastic lighting fixture, I explain to them that lighting is a form of art that stays pristine through the years unless you have wild parties. You buy it once, and you can take it with you if you move. You can pass it down to your children as an heirloom. It’s a wise investment.”

Rule #8: Your client will always absorb your enthusiasm (or lack thereof)

“Corey was so encouraging and straightforward. I was inspired by his presentation and came away with lots of notes,” said Ortiz. “His support helped me pitch an idea to my clients that I felt good about. I sourced some pendant lights I’d seen in the showroom, and they loved them! I’m ordering them as soon as they are available!”

“Enthusiasm for your choices comes from having confidence in your product knowledge.”

Schedule Your Market Seminars

As you start planning for October Market, be sure to take advantage of the opportunities to learn from our industry’s leading experts. Just visit the Events section in early August, if you’re looking for Fall Market, or in early February for Spring, for a full listing of educational offerings. And don’t forget to keep checking – events continue to be added until just a couple of weeks before Market.

About Corey Damen Jenkins

Based in Birmingham, Michigan, Jenkins is known for mixing vibrant colors with layered patterns to create architecturally inspired spaces that are, at once, elegant, inventive and timeless. His work can be found throughout the country in residences that feature luxurious and refined materials including intricate wallcoverings, sculptural lighting and stately furnishings.