Podcast, Ep. 127: Lighting 101

Lighting basics from Ballard Designs in-house experts Valerie and Rodger

This week, we switched it up to take a deep dive into one of our favorite topics — lighting. In-house experts Valerie Naples and Rodger Thomas answer all our lighting questions. How many light sources we actually need? What are the rules for wattage and color when switching to LED? How to coordinate fixtures in an open floor plan? They also give their personal picks for the type of lighting that works best in a space, share rules for using shades and finding the right lamp height, and common mistakes we make that can make a huge difference in creating a simple yet beautiful mood in a room.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Valerie handles the “pretty” part of lighting at Ballard, and Roger hands the technical.
  • How Valerie and Roger work together to make things both as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible, and what a day in their work life looks like.
  • How much lighting do we need (4:40)
  • The rules of thumb for hanging lights at different levels, and the most important rules of can lights.
  • How many light sources do you really need? (9:05)
  • Why we shouldn’t rely on one fixture such as a chandelier to be our main source of light.
  • All about LED bulbs — benefits, colors, and wattage (14:00)
  • Why Roger loves incandescent lighting, and how we can use the Kelvin temperature scale on the Ballard website to better understand which type of bulb to pick.
  • What a humming sound inside our bulbs means, and what we can do about it.
  • How to check to see if a light meets your  “CBD” needs – Color, Brightness, and Dimmable.
  • Pleated, paper, and printed textures are in, so bring those shades on!
  • How to best match the lamp with the appropriate piece of furniture, and how to know what height and width works best for picking lamps.
  • What makes some lamps more expensive than others, and how to get the right deal when paying for a lamp.
  • If we should or should not put shades and chandeliers, and the rules surrounding it regarding functionality.
  • The true confessions of how often we really clean our ceiling fans.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    April 14, 2020

    This was very informative. I have a Ballard chandelier (I think) that was in our condo when we bought it. The chandelier has candle sleeves that look like, as you described it, “drippy wax.” They can easily be switched but I don’t see alternatives on the Ballard website. Do you sell them?

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      January 8, 2021

      So glad you enjoyed the episode! No, we do not sell those.

  2. Reply

    Juli Findley

    February 17, 2020

    Hi ladies-
    Love the podcast. I wanted to ask a question and also answer a question
    My husband has a study with hardwoods. I want to put a rug in his study but he likes to roll back in his office chair. What is the best rug for rolling office chairs. He wants a plastic mat so I need help!
    As far as the juju hat, I have a tip for you. We lived in Africa and my juju hat came from the juju market as well as many other treasures. We always put these items in the freezer for a few days and that seemed to take care of the bug problem.
    Keep us the good work!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      February 17, 2020


      Thank you for that great tip. I will pass it along to Taryn and Karen. They’re the juju lovers!

      That is a tricky question about the rug. I’ll ask our team about it, but I bet a sisal or seagrass rug would be great because they aren’t super plush. An indoor outdoor rug would likely work well too!


  3. Reply


    February 14, 2020

    Ok, I love ALL episodes but I REALLY loved this one. the pretty, the technical! Chock full of goodness!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      February 17, 2020

      Thanks Kacey. So glad you liked it!