Skip to main content

How to mix lighting finishes to give your space an eclectic feel

Soho Home Lead Designer, Jessica Sims-Wilson, explains how not to fall into a lighting scheme cliche by adding interest with a contrast of materials, finishes and styles

By Megan Murray

While the design of each Soho House is unique, a sense of eclecticism is a constant throughout. Our designers use unexpected colour palettes, contrasting patterns and vintage finds from different eras to create depth and bring an element of surprise to a scheme.

You can use contrast as a tool to avoid cliches within your own decor, and a good place to start is lighting. 'It's one of the most important features in a home - not only does it look beautiful, but it also brings atmosphere and enhances how you feel in the space,' says Soho Home Lead Designer, Jessica Sims-Wilson.

Throughout the Houses and with our Soho Home Design clients, we use a layered approach positioning light sources at varying heights around the room, on a dimmer switch for a flattering glow. Most spaces will feature a mix of table and floor lamps, wall sconces and a ceiling light - all in different finishes and styles.

'Avoid picking a floor lamp, wall sconce and ceiling light in the same colour, finish and style. It's good to have a thread of continuity, which will usually relate to the feel of the room, but we don't want our clients' homes to have all wooden lighting, for example, or all industrial-style lighting,' says Sims-Wilson. 'These choices should feel layered and complementary.'

Here, our design team breaks down the types of lighting finishes and styles that they would mix according to the space, to give you a head start when following a similar idea at home.

Get to grips with the basics

'Every home is different and it all depends on how eclectic you want your space to be, but there are some general design rules you can follow. While it's important to introduce a range of finishes and materials, we don't want to overwhelm.

'If you are unsure, stick with three finishes - but no more than two woods or metals within that. For example, I think nickel and brass complement each other, but to introduce copper as well would be too much.

'A fool-proof mix is a metal with two other types of finish such as wood, glass, rattan or stone. Sticking within these parameters and layering throughout the room looks eclectic while feeling manageable.'

Consider the feel of a space

'The lighting you choose will depend on what you want from the space, so incorporate this into your decision making. This applies to style and finish - for example, in a snug you want to feel relaxed and cosy, so go for lighting sources that sit lower (like lots of table lamps) in a neutral wood with a soft, fabric shade.

'In a home office you might need more concentrated, overhead lighting, so opt for a metal finish with a hard shade that will direct light where you need it. Think about the purpose and feel of the space as you picture the lighting it needs.'

Focus on texture in the living space

The living room is often one of the biggest spaces, so it's easier to use a more diverse range of finishes, colours and textures here.

'I use a lot of lamps in a living room, preferring a hard base such as ceramic, metal, concrete or marble, with a soft, fabric shade in a neutral colour to diffuse light in a flattering glow. Opt for something like the ceramic Gabriela or marble Thelma table lamps, and then mimic this with a taller floor lamp.

'This is an opportunity to pick a different material for the base, but keep the continuity with another neutral, fabric shade, such as the Beckett or Bari floor lamps. Positioned behind an upholstered accent chair creates a little nook, and the softness of the shade and chair is complementary.

'As this is an area with a lot of traffic and movement, the ceiling light should be fairly high because people will walk underneath it. The Isobella chandelier is an accessible way to introduce a statement overhead light and the mini shades mimic aspects of other lighting sources around the room.'

Opt for a harder effect in an office

'Clients have different ideas on how they want to feel in a home office, but often I would say it's inspired, refreshed and focused. Here, it's about using dynamic styles and harder finishes.

'Glass, metal and marble look good together, so I'd choose a table lamp like the Giovanni or Ernest. They look great on a desk and bring together antique brass and marble finishes.

'Complement this with a wall sconce such as the Oregan with a glass shade and antique brass arm, offering continuity. Then, either the Oliver or Seed chandeliers would be my choice for a ceiling light.'

Bring softness to the bedroom

'Another area that I usually cover with clients is the bedroom, which calls for more tactile materials like rattan, soft woods and fabric shades. This room typically feels calm and relaxing, so the finishes, shapes and colours should reflect that - and remember, they need to work with your changing bedding, cushions and throw as well.

'Overhead lights can be romantic and diffuse light in a dreamy way here, like the Katia chandelier. Crafted from yellow cast glass shards, the flecked finish shimmers when the light catches the chandelier.

'Rattan and jute look lovely on a bedside table, giving a lovely glow that works with all the seasons. I like linen shades to bring softness to the room like our Maris pendant, paired with warm-toned wooden and fabric floor lamps.'