General. Recessed. Overhead. Task. Accent. Wherever it shines, lighting sets the mood and creates ambience. 

Overhead lighting is for the overall illumination of the space. Recessed cans, or overhead ceiling fixtures are important for even  coverage in a room

Task lighting addresses functional needs in precisely the place it’s required, providing visibility for reading, cooking, dressing, or working at a desk. 

Decorative accent lighting adds some jewelry to a room plus some added illumination at various heights. Important because recessed lighting often does reach “human level.” Use it to highlight artwork and sculpture, in a foyer or as an architectural feature to provide that wow moment in a dining room or over a kitchen island.

This was a custom fixture by Brooklyn-based Allied Maker. Some of the pendants are 30″ tall. This stunning fixture has walnut accents, handblown glass and leather straps.

One of her favorite design features, Martha Vicas chooses every fixture with an eye to her clients’ needs, and then goes for so much more.

JOY: At what point in planning out a room do you choose fixtures? 

VICAS: We do an electrical plan very early on when space planning. We no longer automatically lay out recessed lights in a strict grid pattern. We consider the function of the room combined with other decorative lighting. For example, some people do not like much recessed in bedrooms. We may use bedside lamps for reading and general illumination on one side of the room while relying on a couple of targeted recessed fixtures on the other side.

LED lighting has revolutionized the industry and there are so many ways to use lighting to highlight spaces. When we are 

working on new homes, we often rely on our friend Ronni Glaser at Illuminations. She has the knowledge to keep our clients’ homes on the cutting edge of lighting design and automation.

A traditional fixture from Neirmann Weeks–always beautiful.

JOY: What are your rules for measuring from ceiling, over a table, etc?  

VICAS: I like to place pendants or chandeliers 32-36″ over a table or 62-66″ from the floor. It depends on a variety of factors including the type of fixture and the height of the people that live in the house!

This fun fixture is from a large lighting company and is oversized for the room which provides added drama.

JOY: What are some novel ways you’ve used lighting?  

VICAS: We have used rope lights under stairs, cute little rectangular recessed lights along a stair wall and even interspersed lights in a living room wall. We worked on a contemporary home that had the ability to change the color of the LED bulbs remotely. 

This is another artisan produced fixture by Brooklyn-based Roll And Hill.

JOY: Any favorite styles of lighting? 

VICAS: I love vintage lighting from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. However, I think that the new crop of artisan lighting producers are making very exciting fixtures. We often collaborate with them to produce custom fixtures that are perfect for the space.

We clustered 3 pendants to create a chandelier from British-based Cameron House.

All photos courtesy of MS Vicas Interiors.

This article first appeared in The Georgetown Dish.