How can I light up my apartment?
September 14, 2008 10:20 PM   Subscribe

How can I light up my apartment?

Although I have been able to make do with my apartment's built-in lighting, I would like to add some extra light to my apartment.

My apartment has built-in ceiling lights in the entryway and kitchen areas, and I have a few desk lamps in my bedroom. However, both my bedroom and my living room have inadequate light. The light in my bedroom is a bit dim, and I have been using my kitchen and hallway lights to light up the living room.

I am at the point where I would like to start inviting people over, so I would like to have a well-lit living room. Plus, I'd like to have more light in both rooms, for my own sake.

I would like to buy some lamps that will light my room efficiently but complement my furniture. Most of my furniture pieces are made of dark wood, and my chairs are light browns or neutral tones (like this). I am open to a range of suggestions, but would like to avoid "shiny" metals.

posted by jennyesq to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Hit up IKEA's lighting section, they have tons of options and styles that would probably match your furniture.
posted by axltea at 10:23 PM on September 14, 2008

Is there a roof directly above you? If so, would a skylight or solar tube be allowed?
posted by netbros at 10:43 PM on September 14, 2008

IKEA Dioder. LED strips which can make an assortment of colors, use very little power, and will last for years and years. I have them and love 'em.
posted by mullingitover at 11:06 PM on September 14, 2008

I'm not sure if it's your style, but I have something similar to this hanging in a corner, and one of these, against a wall, plus a table lamp and my living room is plenty bright. has a great selection of lighting.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:12 PM on September 14, 2008

One deciding factor re: form will be whether or not you have end tables, console tables, etc. (or wish to acquire some) that can be home to table lamps. If so, then your options greatly increase. I don't, myself, and so I rely on floor lamps for localized/task lighting. It'd also be good to know if you're on a budget, and what kind of physical modifications you're allowed/willing to make to the apartment. For example, I suspect netbros' skylight suggestion is a non-starter, but how about sconces, which might entail the services of an electrician? Or are we looking solely at things-that-plug-into-outlets?

IKEA is, indeed, awfully good for inexpensive lighting.
posted by mumkin at 12:28 AM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the good ideas!

I actually get a good amount of natural light during the day, as there is a large sliding glass window in the living room.

I've already taken a quick glance at the sites for Ikea, Target, and Overstock, but I sometimes find it hard to tell how effective the lights will be when they're in my room. It would make sense to swing by some of the stores to get a sense of the lamps' effectiveness, though.
posted by jennyesq at 12:31 AM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: By the way, the budget is fairly open-ended. I would prefer not to spend a large amount of money on lighting, but am willing to do so if the cheaper options don't look "right." Also, I'm limited to things-that-plug into outlets, unfortunately.
posted by jennyesq at 12:37 AM on September 15, 2008

This and other paper lamps from IKEA has a soft, attractive light that should go well with dark wood and neutral tones. I have several Samtid lamps. They can also be used as a reading light because of the mobile arm. Jonisk has a dimmer and looks great on the floor or at a low table. According to the label I saw in the store, you can actually sit on this lamp (at least for a minute or two - the base is rounded).

If you buy lamps without a built in dimmer, consider a cord dimmer.
posted by iviken at 2:23 AM on September 15, 2008

Ikea has some great lamps. I am a big fan of any lights with a shade similar to the Orgel Vreten that iviken linked to. They give a nice, soft glow that goes well in the living room.

Target has some nice stuff too.
posted by bchaplin at 3:59 AM on September 15, 2008

I generally find that torchier-style lamps (where the light is directed upward and reflected off the ceiling) are much better at providing even light to a room than lamps with shades that direct the light downward. Unfortunately, in my experience, the best you can hope for in torchier lamps in unobtrusiveness - they don't tend to be as interesting looking or stylish as shaded lamps.

A note - if you do go with Ikea, avoid the Not series. A $8 floor lamp might seem like a great deal, but I assure you, that's too much money for what you get.
posted by twoporedomain at 8:18 AM on September 15, 2008

Best answer: If you do go with Ikea lamps, check and see if it's one of the lamps that takes some weird Ikea-only bulbs. I cannot tell you what a pain in the ass it is to have to make a trip to Ikea to buy replacement bulbs. If you must buy such a lamp, get 2 or 3 extra of the bulbs at the same time. I bought some Ikea ceiling lamps when I remodeled last year and though they look great and function well, replacing the stupid bulbs is annoying for two reasons - they are not regular bulbs, and getting the old bulb out/new bulb in requires a screwdriver and lots of patience. This is incredibly annoying for a light fixture that is mounted flush to the ceiling.

For non-Ikea lamps, check out West Elm, Chiasso,, Room and Board, and Design Within Reach.

That list is basically sorted in price order, from cheap up to most expensive. I have personally bought and been happy with light fixtures from YLighting (they beat DWR prices pretty handily) but of course you can't go and look at the fixtures in person. I think that Room and Board and DWR stuff is very good quality but you do have to pay for it. West Elm has some nice looking stuff, as long as you don't look to closely at it, but its offered at a very excellent price. I haven't ordered any lights from chiasso, but I have ordered other house stuff and been happy with it.
posted by Joh at 12:39 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Quite frankly, you get what you pay for with lighting.

If your budget can allow it, I would like to suggest you go to a lighting store that employs designers and has a good selection of lamps. Somebody who's good at that type of work can suggest what will work best, based on your description of the space. They also tend to be more creative with lamp/shade combinations.

(Disclaimer: My wife does this for a living.)
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:10 PM on September 15, 2008

Best answer: You might also want to ask this question over at ApartmentTherapy, and include photos. Those folks might have other specific recommendations.
posted by softlord at 3:20 AM on September 16, 2008

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