Emily Henderson just shared how she chooses lights for tall ceilings – these are her 3 styling secrets

Looking for the perfect light fixture for the expansive ceilings in your living room? Designer Emily Henderson is here with three simple tips

(Image credit: Emily Henderson / Rugs USA)

High ceilings give a home a roomy, expansive feel that's hard to beat, but they prove quite the challenge when it comes to lighting. Simple overheads rarely do the trick, and fixtures or chandeliers can be complicated to install. No matter which room you're designing or your favored design style, lighting high-ceilinged spaces requires careful consideration.

Luckily, interior designer Emily Henderson recently installed light fixtures in her brother's new build – a project that's blessed with the tallest of ceilings. And after mastering the craft, she took to Instagram, where she shared her top three pieces of advice for selecting and styling lighting for ceilings of all heights. These are her tried-and-true tips.

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Though Emily selected sleek and stylish pendants from Rejuvenation to fill the raftered ceiling of her brother's Riverhouse remodel, her tips can be applied across the board. Keep these three tips in mind and infuse your own sense of style for a long-lasting lighting scheme that meshes with any space.

1. Choose fixtures that are diffused from the bottom

white living room with high ceiling, large windows, fire place, two couches opposite each other, large coffee table, rug, trio of statement pendants

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop/Chad Mellon)

Emily's first high-ceilinged lighting tip is to 'choose a light that's diffused at the bottom so you're not staring up into a bulb.' You won't want to be faced with a bright, beaming, bare light bulb next time you decide to recline in the living room.

Instead, opt for light fixtures that seamlessly integrate the bulbs within a lighter material, providing lots of light but shielding your eyes from unwanted glare. Make your living room cozy with lighting that adds to the relaxing feel, and doesn't leave you seeing spots.

Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson is a stylist, interior designer, HGTV host, and founder of Emily Henderson Design which she's been running for over a decade. Emily provides us with style inspiration every day over on her Instagram, and her blog is a great source of ideas for DIYs and making the most of your space.

2. Keep scale in mind

deVOL modern rustic kitchen with Sebastian Cox wood cabinets, ceiling beams and a brick floor

(Image credit: deVOL Sebastian Cox kitchen)

As with any successful interior design scheme, scale is an important consideration when it comes to lighting tall spaces. If your room has tall ceilings but not tons of square footage, you might opt for a smaller fixture.

On the other hand, vast spaces like the Riverhouse will require larger pieces and, perhaps, several. Don't purchase a light fixture without comparing it to the rest of your space, or you'll be left with something that practically disappears (or overwhelms the whole room).

3. Find the perfect height for your space

Contemporary, minimalist style living room, sculptural hanging pendant, white painted walls, large artwork placed above fireplace, dark wood herringbone flooring, textured rug, glass coffee table, two cream boucle lounge chairs

(Image credit: Lights & Lamps)

Finally, Emily says to 'drop it low enough to look intentional but try not to block windows, art, et cetera.' Just because your ceilings reach to the sky doesn't mean your light fixtures have to get lost in the clouds. Bring the lights low enough to be aesthetically pleasing, and effective light sources.

And, before securing them in place, ensure they don't clash with artwork, tall furniture, or accessories. Don't be afraid to experiment with different configurations before making a final placement decision the final result will be well worth it.


Emily's tips are easy to follow, but can't be overlooked when lighting an extra-tall space. Trial and error is part of the process, so be patient with your lighting scheme you'll be left with a lofty, well-lit space you'll never want to leave.

Abby Wilson
News Writer

I am a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, with a focus on interior design. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.