The setup: It's fine to have overhead lights in your living room or bedroom, but don't rely on them to brighten the entire area - they'll leave dead-light space and dark corners. Adding at least two table lamps and even a free-standing lamp or two will give the room a more sophisticated look and a lot more versatility. But even if you do nothing else, install dimmers! They're an inexpensive way to completely change the look and feel of any room in an instant, without having to get new fixtures.
Which bulbs to use: Incandescent bulbs emit a warm, inviting light that can be wonderfully flattering at night, but it can look too yellow during the day. Try mixing incandescent light with halogen light, and you'll be ready for both cocktail parties and a lazy afternoon on the couch.
Don't even think about: Pink light bulbs are sexy, but not in a good way (think brothel), so steer clear. And toss those halogen torch lights from college. Not only are they tacky, but they send light straight up to your ceiling instead of spreading it around the room.
The setup: For maximum visibility in the bathroom-which you want when you're examining your pores! - an overhead fixture for general light paired with light sources on either side of the mirror (think wall sconces) is ideal. In the kitchen, chandeliers or pendants over an island help add visual interest to the space. Lighting under cabinets brightens up counter spaces and makes food prep easier.
Which bulbs to use: Halogen.
Don't even think about: Fluorescent lighting gives off an unflattering blue light that is better suited for garages and unfinished basements than living quarters. And always use white lampshades in a bathroom to achieve true color-you don't want to apply your makeup in light that is manipulated by, say, a green lampshade.
- Tamara Connor, Connor Brown Interior Design in Atlanta