Light Fixture Regret is Real

If you have trouble making decisions, and you need a new light fixture in your house, dark times might be ahead. The sheer number of choices you’ll have to muddle through will make you wish you could just throw a dart and not care. But that’s not an option, is it?

The lighting scene seems to have exploded in the last decade. Searching the phrase “light fixtures” on is akin to flirting with infinity. Last time I checked, the site offered 1,071,809 options for screwing in a light bulb. (I think that number is low.) But forget the online portals. Consider the stores you can drive to. Brick and mortar retailers can be just as dizzying. Trust me. I just struggled through a “pendant” selection.

In my case, I tolerated ugly overhead lighting for too long. It was a track fixture bolted to the high ceiling of our master bathroom. Every day it emanated unflattering beams normally reserved for discount fitting rooms. I had a hate-hate relationship with that overhead monster, yet it was a low redecorating priority.

Then, Mother Nature intervened in the form of a roof leak. A ceiling repair eventually floated to the top of our to-do list. This meant a new light was in order. I was thrilled at the chance to select something new, something cool.

I considered myself a bit of an expert. After all, over the years I had switched out a decent share of light sources for higher traffic rooms. Couple that with the home improvement awareness I naturally absorbed as a mortgage payer. The phases of life—marriage, nesting, children, entertaining and panic—had always forced me to hike through a forest of decorating magazines and other sources.

It turned out I was living in a fantasy land. It had been a dozen years since lighting was on my radar. With only weeks to “just pick something,” as my husband encouraged, I hit a wall. I realized that since the last time I made dibs on Thomas Edison’s invention, the lighting industry had somehow exploded into an intergalactic mass. There were too many choices.

I was calm when I first checked out recommended decorating websites. So much beauty and imagination! Then I realized the pixels didn’t translate. I needed context. I upped the search to a tactile level of magazines and catalogs. Pages of “maybes” were torn out and stacked. But doubt set in. I couldn’t just order the focal point of a room from a flat image.

I hit the stores, from specialty lighting meccas to Pottery Barn-ish places to the big box retailers that also sell spackle and weed killer. I noticed three things about this reconnaissance technique:


• It’s overwhelming.

• There are some weird chandeliers out there.

• I spent hours looking up. A literal pain in the neck.

    So how does the story end? I circled back to the online galaxy and threw that dart. The pendant I selected for the room is okay. Not great, but okay.

    We graduated from an awful fixture to a tolerable one, which technically counts as a home improvement. Next time a situation like this arises, I’m consulting with a decorator. Call me illuminated.