Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Decorative Flush Mount Lighting: Low Ceilings With Style

I talk a lot on here about the importance of good lighting – how layering multiple stylish fixtures can add depth and beauty to any room in your home. But what if you have low ceilings? Big chandeliers or dangling pendant lights are a no-go in many homes. Flush mount or recessed lighting can make up for the illumination, but often lack the style and pizazz you want to bring your room together. That said, there are exceptions to every rule. With a little looking, you can find beautiful flush mount lights that will bolster your room’s brightness and look good doing it.

Ditch The Dome

An image of a small blue and white living room, lit by a cylindrical flush mount light with black metal detail work.
Cylindrical flush mount lighting comes in a close second to dome-shaped lights, but with a lot more room to get creative with color and detail-work (by Heather Scott Home & Design)

The most common type of flush mount lighting fixture is the simple glass dome. If you’ve ever lived in a rental, you’ve seen one: a frosted glass dome with a metal fastener in the center to hold the whole thing together. But these dime-a-dozen lights won’t do anything to beautify your room; at best, they’ll blend into the background. Even if they have nice hardware, faceted glass, or some other embellishment, I say avoid the dome shape entirely for a look that feels more fresh and unique.

…Unless It’s An Antique

An image of a farmhouse style kitchen with vintage glass lighting fixtures
Vintage flush mount lights range from unassuming to ornate, and are a great way to add a homey, traditional feel to a contemporary space (by 9 square studio)

The one exception I’ll make is if you live in an old house and want to bring out its turn of the century architecture. I’m lucky enough to live in a home from the 1920s that has most of its original hardware and lighting fixtures – including glass sconces that were originally gas-powered. These days, there’s a wealth of reproduction and replica lights made for restoring old homes, and guess what? They’re made to match the low-ceilinged architecture, but usually semi-flush rather than fully-flush mounted. The difference? A stem or mount that lowers them a few inches, giving you a more ornate look while avoiding the dreaded boob-dome.

Flush Mount vs Semi-Flush

An image of a bedroom with a large crystal flush mount light above the bed
Flush mount lighting fixtures can vary widely in height, even without added stems or chains (by Lisa Bakamis Interior Design, Inc.)

As a rule of thumb, “flush” lights are a single solid base and shade that affixes directly to your ceiling. “Semi-flush” usually means there’s a short stem or chain between the base and the light itself. The latter gives a more chandelier-like appearance, but also means a little less clearance – making them a better option for a dining room than a bedroom. That said, the total height can vary significantly from one light to another, and not just in the presence or lack of a stem or chain. The fixtures themselves can also be wildly different sizes, from slim modern fixtures that sit almost flat against the ceiling to cascading lights that take a little liberty with the word “flush”.

Shop Semi-Flush Lighting:

Make Sure To Measure

An image of a living room with dark blue walls and lots of gold accents, including a broad, leafy gold flush-mount light in the center of the room.
Lots of flush mount lights have broad, branching leaf or vine designs to make the fixture seem larger without crowding your head room (by Duet Design Group)

Of course, while avoiding head injuries should be priority number one, the height of your ceilings isn’t necessarily a limit on how creative you can get with your fixtures. In fact, once you ditch dome-style flush mount lights, the height of the fixture is mostly a measurement to be aware of rather than an indicator of how decorative or intricate a light will be. Look for flush mounts with burst and branch shapes rather than chandelier-like swoops and dangles. The result is a fixture that has plenty of size, heft, and style, but that still sits quite close to the ceiling.

Shop Big Lighting Collections

A blue and white bedroom lit by a small version of a modern atom-style light.
If there’s a big fixture that you love but just don’t have space for, see if the manufacturer carries a flush or semi-flush version – chances are, you’ll find a match (by Krista + Home)

Rather than wading through a sea of samey flush mount lights, it can be easier to work backwards from the big light you wish you could have and see if there’s a similar flush-mount version. Many manufacturers offer their chandeliers in different sizes (three, five, eight-light, and so on), and increasingly that includes scaled-down flush-mount interpretations. From huge crystal chandeliers to bold “atomic” modern pendants to hefty industrial-inspired lantern lights, you can find a look that, while not one-to-one, is pretty close to the one you’re after.

Use Distinctive Lighting To Supplement Your Style

An image of a small, neutral-colored living room. The gold flush mount light stands out boldly against the white ceiling.
You don’t need a particularly bold or intricate flush mount light to have an impact; you can get a lot of mileage out of simply avoiding a dome shape (by Cummings Architecture + Interiors)

Now, I won’t say that flush mount lighting is the be-all end-all, or even the most important consideration for small-space decorating. But I do believe a nice fixture is worth the splurge. Small rooms with low ceilings require a lot of sacrifice and finesse to decorate; anything that can make the space feel less cookie-cutter will pay off in spades. So not only will a good, central, overhead fixture give you the all-over illumination you need to put your space in the best light, it’ll give you a stylish, distinctive anchor that can help elevate and unify the rest of your decor.

Flush mount lighting has a reputation as samey and uninteresting – and the vast majority of fixtures have solidly earned it. But increasingly manufacturers are starting to put the same care (and flair) into lights for rooms with low ceilings. So don’t settle for a dorm-dome when you could have a light that’s truly beautiful!

Shop All Flush Mount Lights: