With her new lighting line unveiled in the Crystorama showroom during the International Lighting Market in Dallas this week, designer and TV star of Daykeover With Libby Langdon sits down with enLIGHTenment Magazine to discuss why she loves lighting.
enLIGHTenment Magazine: In your TV show, you emphasize good lighting. Tell us a bit about your philosophy.
Libby Langdon: Lighting is one of the most important design tools in the design of every space I work on; it’s the main element that allows a room to feel warm and inviting. I cannot tell you how many homes I’ve gone into and there’s one uninspired overhead lighting fixture or just recessed cans as the primary light source. UGH! That makes a room feel bland, and the quality of light leaves the space cold and unfeeling. But if you take that exact same room with the existing furnishings, and incorporate a stylish fixture with a great spread of light, sconces, plus table and floor lamps you’ve got a whole new look! People focus on nice furniture and accessories and then often stop there, short of creating a great lighting scheme when it’s truly the most important step in a room!
EM: Some designers feel lighting should be subtle, preferring other design elements to take center stage. What is your belief?
LL: I don’t believe that lighting should be in the background. It can act as a primary design element in spaces that don’t have what I call “a lot of moving parts.” Hallway foyers or entryways are a great place for a statement lighting piece. Kitchens are another super area to have stylish lighting as a design feature. For example, a pendant over an island, or multiple pendants over a bar counter, and a stunning chandelier over a dining table – these can serve as the rock star moments in the room. In a living room, dining room, or bedroom, any lighting that’s chosen is meant to work with the overall design. And often times, we do want the lighting to be a focal point! A beautiful fixture can add the final stylish touch; it’s like jewelry in your room!
EM: These days homeowners are more apt to entertain at home than go out.. What are some good tips for maximizing the versatility of today’s multi-purpose rooms?
LL: It’s so true that “staying in” is the new “going out.” The majority of my clients need spaces designed to fit their lifestyles, which often includes entertaining friends and family. For fixtures mounted on the ceiling or wall, I always use a dimmer – this allows you to have one fixture serve more than one purpose: it can act as task lighting when needed, but also be dimmed to create a softer ambient light.
I work with so many people who have enormous flat screen TVs, and because of the quality of the television, you don’t want to place lamps on either side of it. That can be distracting. Instead, I like to use dimmable sconces on either side of a big TV. It helps to add some style by framing it, and keeps it from looking like a big black box floating on the wall. The sconces make it feel and seem more deliberate. The light level can be dimmed when watching TV, but can still help illuminate an area that otherwise would probably be dark.
I’m seeing lots of formal dining rooms going by the wayside for young couples. The kitchen has become the main eating spot, but they still want it to look as great as if it were its own space. A great lighting fixture is the best way to dress up a kitchen dining area. I like a brighter area over a dining space for where kids might be eating and hanging out, but then perhaps dimmed pendants over the kitchen counter and island areas where adults gather to give a little more of an intimate bar feeling. Again, dimmers are paramount for all of the lighting fixtures I use!
EM: You are known for styles that are “traditional with an updated twist.” How does that apply to your lighting designs?
LL: For me, “traditional with an updated twist” is a current design style that’s rooted in classic elements. I like to use all of the one-on-one time I spend with clients to help inspire my designs. They are my ultimate research and development group, and I find that their styles are mostly transitional with a little something special thrown in. With lighting, both sides of a couple want to weigh in on the style – so my collection incorporates a combination of masculine and feminine lines. For example, in the Sylvan style, an angular outer frame is softened by the sloping arms of the inner chandelier. The combination of the bright Polished Nickel finish, the scale of the fixture, and the soft linen shades make it a dynamic stand-alone piece. The Masefield Collection has contemporary shapes, but a softer-looking silver bamboo frame and linen inner shade. The bamboo is an appealing shape and style for the fashion-forward [client]. The Jennings Collection mixes my bold graphic pattern with a soft round shape and an inner linen shade. I like the silver finishes and find that it is the look that people want to live with for a long time!
EM: As a designer in the NYC area, what is your advice for making a small space seem bigger?
LL: So often I go into a small space and there are one or two teeny tiny lamps – and that’s the only lighting in the room, which is a huge mistake. When it comes to a lighting scheme, no matter the size of the room, I tell people to think in terms of lighting all four corners of a space. If there are dark areas it’s as if that square footage isn’t there; it visually closes in a room and makes it look smaller. I also prefer to work with layers of light at various heights in a space, such as ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, picture lights, and table lamps. [Doing so] adds depth and dimension to a room and makes it feel larger.
EM: Crystorama has access to beautiful crystal. Are you tempted to start experimenting?
LL: I was thrilled to design a line for Crystorama because I thought I could introduce some new looks that they currently don’t offer. It’s fun offering a fresh look rather than designing items that look like other collections they currently run. I am really looking forward to incorporating some crystal into the next collection I’m designing, but I will introduce it in a way that’s different and unexpected! I am [excited about] hearing the reaction to my designs at the Dallas market from current Crystorama customers, and I’m excited to introduce a new audience to Crystorama as well!