Sometimes customers in our antique lighting shop ask me for fixtures in which they can use a very high amount of wattage. First off is that most vintage light fixtures aren’t designed from an aesthetic point of view to look good with excessively high amount of wattage – for instance, delicate gas shades begin to look “blown out” once you use more than 40 watts. But second is that if you rely on a single fixture for too much light it will create harsh, unflattering shadows. The better solution is to make sure that there is a balance of light in each room by using multiple sources.
A bright overhead light in itself is a good thing, but balanced with wall sconces, floor lights and/or table lamps will provide a balance of light that will soften the shadows in the room making the atmosphere much more relaxing even when the room is at its brightest. Dimmer switches for overhead and wall scones is virtually a must in any living area of the home. The control they provide to create the perfect balance for any mood is a wonderful asset.
Sometimes wall lights aren’t an option. In these rooms a floor or table lamp is a great choice. Try to use ones with three way sockets to provide you with even more control. Or you can look for those that have individual pull chains on each socket and use different wattages in each. This way you can turn just the 40 watt bulb on for mood lighting, only the 75 watt bulb for normal use and perhaps both for when you are reading, etc.
In general, the more options you can give yourself in any room with the number of light sources and control over their brightness the better you can adjust to the perfect light for every situation.