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Mistake #6: Omitting the Third Source of Light

Reason why people do it: "The overhead lights work just fine," most of us think. (Sometimes even seasoned pros, who've accounted for two light sources, forget a third.)

Reason why it's a mistake: Relying entirely on overhead lights in a bathroom make shaving and putting on makeup difficult. In a dining or living room, it can make parties feel gulag-ish, and you already know the perils of knitting, reading or solving a crossword puzzle without a decent lamp.

What to do instead: Once you've got a ceiling fixture you like, choose a pair of lamps that relate to the closest pieces of furniture (e.g., don't place a thin, low-wattage lamp next to an overstuffed sofa or chair) or add a swing-arm floor or wall-lamp with adjustable wattage next to your favorite place to sit. Now think about decorative lighting options: sconces work beautifully to lighten challenging areas, like alcoves and above sideboards; picture lights not only illuminate art but can also be used over bookcases to show off the pretty book bindings and collectibles that can otherwise get lost.

One extra tip to keep in mind: In a bathroom, it's best to have both overhead and a lighting source at eye level, such as sconces like these on either side of the mirror.

Libby Follis and Drew Ebbing founded Gifted Interiors Ltd in 1988 in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.