Behind the Design: Which Light Bulb?


Lighting is a huge component when it comes to the mood of a room. It can be dimming/ relaxing or bright/clean. It all depends on which light bulb you use.

Even as an interior designer it can be a challenge to decipher which light bulb is right for the fixture and which will create the desired ambiance. I'll identify the different type of light bulbs, their applications and share a few of my tips to help you get that perfect glow!


Incandescent is the most common lighting in homes. It gives off a warm and inviting light that is very complementary to skin tone colors. Your average light fixture be it pendant, chandelier, or wall sconce will have an incandescent bulb specified.


Halogen is another form of Incandescent lighting. Its very similar to what natural daylight would look like. Many people like to use this light in their bathrooms and under the kitchen cabinets. If you have ceiling can lights in your home they're probably halogen bulbs.


Fluorescent lighting is more harsh and cold (sometimes warm) lighting. Fluorescent lighting tends to last a little longer than incandescent. Its commonly used to light large areas such as attics, basements and commercial offices.

LED (Light-emitting diode)

LED is a long lasting, energy efficient light. It has more of a directional, non-diffused lighting, not normally used for general illumination purposes. In time all light bulbs will be LED due to their energy efficiency. You can purchase 1 LED bulb for your home, live in it for 20 years and never have to change it. I't's priorities are customizable and flexible making it the ideal light source for the more sculptural artistic light fixtures.

Lighting Design Note:

Through trial-and-error- I have found these tips to be most helpful when selecting the proper light bulb.

1. Consider whether you want a warm or white (brighter) light. This will automatically narrow down your bulb selection. Each type of bulb has their properties (listed above) and will put-off a certain color of light.

2. If your light fixture is glass and the bulb is exposed, I suggest selecting a light bulb that is

1-2 times lower in wattage than listed on the package. You'll be surprised how much light 1 bulb gives off when exposed. I find starting with less wattage and working my way up is best. Get a few different wattages and test them out. You don't want to blind your guests.

3. Lastly, turn your light fixture on during the day and at night. The light will look different depending on the time of day. Be consistent with your light bulb choice. If possible do not mix cool and warm light bulbs. If you choose a warmer bulb keep it warm throughout all fixtures, only adjusting the wattage. This will provide the most even distribution of light and avoid inconsistency on the eye.

I hope this helps to make your light bulb purchase easier and brighter!


 I'm Laura Thurman, creator of this blog and owner of Thurman Design Studio LLC. What I love most about interior design is the design process and all the hidden elements that make a space great: color theory, mood boards and textiles.

Inspiration is all around us in various creative fields; interiors, architecture, graphics design & fashion.

The purpose of my blog is to educate my readers by sharing the "inside scoop" on the design world and, in turn, provide helpful insights that will inspire you to elevate and love the spaces you inhabit.                I hope you leave educated and inspired! 

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