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Lighting Needs vs. Lighting Wants

Lighting Needs vs. Lighting Wants

Setting up a new apartment can get pretty overwhelming. You’ve just moved into a new place, all of your stuff is in boxes, the apartments’ practically at your creative disposal, and you need to set up a lighting plan. 

Simply put, a lighting plan is an architectural plan, but for lighting. Basically, you map out the outlines for every room in the apartment, draw in indications for the furniture and furnishings, and plan out your lighting scheme accordingly.

Don’t let the technicality in the definition sway you away from just how fun planning out a lighting scheme can actually be. There is, however, one important consideration that has to be made when you’re considering lighting elements to be incorporated into your new home: Wants versus needs.

Differentiating Between Wants and Needs

Modern round shaped pendant light

Shown in Image: Vilhelmina Modern Round Shape Pendant Light

The differentiation is pretty straightforward: you can’t live without a need, but you can make do without a want. It’s usually a matter of compromising between the two. When you’re planning out how you’d set up an apartment, you come up with multiple lists, budgets, and plans on how you’ll execute the décor.

There’s never one list. You’ll change your mind ten times over what you should incorporate, what you should leave out, and your budget will change accordingly. This is the compromise between a want and a need.

Another important thing to consider is that decorators want you to be selfish when decorating your apartment. There isn’t anything that tells you to forgo all your wants for a few needs.

Lighting Wants

  • Incandescent and Halogen Bulbs

LED cob track lights

Shown in Image: LED Cob Track Lights

Lighting solutions have come a long way over the years. From being nothing more than a source of artificial illumination to decorative elements and vibe-setters in their own right. However, the principle purpose of a lighting solution remains the same: giving off light.

You’ll come to realize that there are ways to get lighting wrong and the most common one would be choosing the wrong type of bulb. There are several kinds of bulbs available:

  • Incandescent 
  • Halogen
  • Fluorescent, and 
  • LED lighting

An ideal light bulb is one that’s cost-effective, energy-saving, has a long life, and is modifiable. LED lights rank above the rest when it comes to these considerations. However, they are the most expensive ones as well. New homeowners often tend to cut costs wherever they can and most would choose less expensive lightning options.

LED lights should be thought of more as investments than pricier purchases. This is because every other type of light bulb either has a shorter life span than them or is not as energy efficient. 

Incandescent lights give off a pleasant, yellow-ish hue which makes people consider them as viable options for mood lighting. They, however, have the shortest life span of the bunch. Halogen lights on the other hand have longer lifespans, but are anything but energy efficient. 

  • Multiple Lighting Options

Color adjustable desk lamp

Shown in Image: Ebbe Macaron Color Adjustable Desk Lamp

The entire purpose of a lighting plan is to plan out where you’ll need lighting and the sort you’d need there. For example; in an open floor living room, you’ll need ambient lighting over the sofa, task lighting over the dining table, and accent lights over decorative elements. 

These lighting options are necessary based on the task performed at each corner of the living space. This process is referred to as layering lights. In the same example, you’ll notice that the lighting options are well-balanced.

While most people tend to focus on limited lighting options, some want more of them. This includes incorporating more mood lighting in multiple corners of the room and forgoing functional lights. As the name indicates, mood lighting has a more dedicated purpose and should not overshadow functional lighting.

Your lighting plan also incorporates lighting boards, plugs, and switches. The lighting elements you choose need to be in close approximation to the power source. An apartment with cables and extensions running everywhere looks messy and unkempt.

Lighting Needs

  • Dimmers

Dimmers in living room interior

Credits: Renopedia, Near

Besides looking at lampshades and stands, you also need to put in due effort to look for additional features that accentuate or improve upon your lighting source. This includes the use of dimmers.

A dimmer is a piece of electrical equipment that links to a lighting source and adjusts the intensity of the light coming out of it. The dimmer is, in effect, the control board for the lighting element.

They’re useful for a number of reasons: 

  • Transform functional lights into mood lights.
  • Change the intensity of the light source based on the time of day.
  • Save up on your electricity bill at the end of the month.
  • Homogeneity

Elegant living room with layered light

Credits: Renopedia,Design Story

As aforementioned, lighting elements have taken on the role of lighting solutions over the past couple of years. They’re no longer solely sources of artificial lighting, but are also decorative elements in their own right.

Designers pay careful attention to the style of the lighting element. You’ll find catalogs upon catalogs of various lampshade designs, scone designs, and pendant light types. It might seem overwhelming to some.

The key to incorporating a lighting solution into your living space and making it look as in-place as you can is to factor in homogeneity. Basically, the lighting solution should blend-in with the rest of the décor, and not be engulfed by it.

For example; in a modern aesthetic living room, your pendant lights with industrial finishes or natural finishes will show through more than brightly colored ones typically seen in contemporary aesthetics.

The key here is to find something that works with everything else and giving it a center stage of its own.


In conclusion, setting up a lighting plan needs to be based on what you need for your space versus what you want for it. It’s a compromise between the two. However, you shouldn’t hold back on things that you want all the time. The key is to find a balance between the two.

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