Chandeliers & Other Light Fixtures




When designing rooms, there are several elements that I always prefer to include:  a floor covering with some type of pattern or texture, draperies, sconces, and chandeliers.  Now, the key word here is, of course, "prefer" because many clients do not always agree with me.  Many people detest window coverings of any kind, especially draperies (you know who you are, B.R.!!!).  Other clients like to keep their beige, builder-grade wall-to-wall carpet instead of upgrading to a patterned carpet or a textured rug such as seagrass.  Still other clients wouldn't have a sconce in their house if their life depended on it.  I once had a client who disdainfully pronounced them "Skronches."  And still, many people prefer a ceiling full of Swiss cheese holes bearing light through recessed cans rather than hang a gorgeous chandelier.  To me, though, these four elements - patterned or textured rugs, draperies, sconces and chandeliers - can turn an ordinary room into something special.   Gorgeous, printed fabric  framing a window adds softness and romance.  Patterned or textured floor coverings lend an additional focal point, much the same way as a painted or beamed ceiling does.  Sconces add an atmospheric glow to a room.   And a chandelier is the crown to the space.  Whenever I am lucky enough to have a client who wants these four elements in their room, I know the space will be a success.  It also means the client is willing to go the extra mile to "finish" the room, not just add new furniture and paint the walls.  And, it also means the client trusts my taste and values my opinion and is willing to go out on a limb for me.  I've already written about sconces, which you can read here.  Today, the discussion is chandeliers, or lighting fixtures.

Traditionally, chandeliers are defined as overhead light fixtures with two or more arms giving off light.  Today with  so many different designs on the market, the term chandelier loosely refers to any light fixture hanging from a ceiling.   Below are pictures of rooms where there are light fixtures -  some are chandeliers, and other are pendants or lanterns.  While you are looking at the pictures, imagine the room without the fixture - would it be as appealing, would it be as pretty, would it look as finished, would it appear as stylish?  After you finish, go through your house and look at rooms where you don't have a light fixture.  Should it?  Maybe, these rooms will help change your mind!


A dining room with an antique chandelier with crystals and a brass cage.  Here the airiness of the fixture plays up the airiness of the room's design.  Notice the small, silver armadillo on the table!  The collection of busts is an unusual touch for a dining room, but here, it is very effective and beautiful.


In a Maria Buatta designed bedroom, the chandelier is a hot air balloon design.  (Unfortunately, the top of the balloon is cut out of the picture.)  The folly of the chandelier's design adds to the youthful feel of the bed's canopy.


Here a stunning Murano glass chandelier, all lacy and feminine is juxtaposed against the starkness of the room's design.  It is hard to imagine another fixture working more perfectly in this dining room than this one.


In a Belgium styled breakfast room, an iron chandelier is in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere.


Buatta, again, uses a Swedish crystal chandelier in this living room.


An American home emulating Belgium design, uses an iron lantern in its living room.


In a dining room, a Niermann Weeks chandelier is a traditional choice. Note how much drama the drapes add to the overall design.  The room would not be as pleasing without that element. 


Here, a Niermann Weeks chandelier again.  One of their most popular items, NW has had great success with their copy of an 18th century Empire fixture.


Pam Pierce's bedroom with an antique gilded bois fixture. I adore the bedspread/duvet design.


A huge double chandelier with sconces.  Again, notice how the color and style of the drapes add an important design element.  The sconces balance out the visual vignette.


Three hanging pendant lights pick up the black color of the countertops in an all white kitchen.  I love these fixtures and the antique clock over the stove.  Notice, too, how the pattern of three pendants is repeated in the three barstools and three large objects over the stove.  Repetition is another tool used in design which can be effective if not overdone.


Here, this dining room incorporates the elements perfectly:  textured rug, draperies, and chandelier.  This fixture is updated with the use of colored rock crystals and crystal beading that lines the cage.


In this French styled home, a lantern is seen over the breakfast room.  Perfect choice!


Another lantern, this one oversized to fit the large stairwell.


Houstonian interior designer Michael Siller used an antique Swedish chandelier in his sitting room.


This chandelier is one of my favorites shown today.  Antique gilded bois fixture with ropes of crystal beads.  I love how drapery is used to separate space in this long entry hall.


Here a modern fixture lights up a space filled with antique elements.  Holly Hunt made this fixture - oft copied, it is one of her most successful designs.  The lights appears to emanate from candles, when in fact, the candles are faux.   Ingenious design.


A new look in light fixtures is the large, drum shade.  Here the shade is opaque, but sometimes, a transparent drum shade is placed over a traditional chandelier creating a trendy, hip look.


Fortuny, the fabric house, makes these gorgeous light fixtures.  They come in different sizes, styles, and colors.   Here in a traditional room with modern accents, the Fortuny fixture adds an additional modern element to the room's design.

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In Houston, New Orleans designers Holden and Dupuy use a French chandelier in the living room.  The designers used my four favorite elements to add atmosphere and the finishing touch:  rug, draperies, sconces, and light fixture.  Remove one of these four elements and the room would not be as pleasing or beautiful.


Here, a modern take on a traditional fixture.


The great John Stefanidis frequently uses light fixtures in his rooms.

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Holder and Dupuy again, in Houston, use a gorgeous antique chandelier that adds a delicate touch to a light and airy dining room.



Furniture and interior designer Windsor Smith uses an antique fixture in her own dining room.


Italian bred, now living in Chicago, designer Alessandra Branca uses a copy of a very popular fixture -- a "boat" chandelier.  These fixtures are now being copied in every price point.  This apartment is home to a family with young children and this whimsical fixture helps keep the decor from being too "grown-up."  Branca here uses the four elements to perfection.


A small eating area is lit by a traditional fixture that has updated touches to it.  


I love this entry hall.  Typically Belgian, austere and cold, this room comes alive with an unexpected touch: an over the top, huge crystal chandelier. 


Again Belgium, a dining room with a cold look is warmed by an oversized crystal chandelier.

13465_max  Here again is a copy of a late 18th century Empire design.


A dining room filled with Swedish antiques and an ultra modern light fixture.  This fixture is so spectacular and different, it actually overtakes the room. 


A stairwell with a black lantern.  Truly an outdoor fixture, lanterns are being brought inside more frequently now.   This light fixture is perfect in this setting.


Dallas, Texas with an exceptional French antique Empire fixture.


One of my favorite pictures here:  a kitchen with an eat in dining room. Without the pot rack, it would be hard to actually see this is a kitchen.  The French stove looks like a jeweled box with ormolu. The light fixture plays off the brass of the range.  Beautiful!


Here, a metal chandelier with leaf design.  Fresh garlands from Christmas are attached to the fixture.  I love the chairs and the fabric here. Actually, though, this fixture wouldn't have been my first choice.


An antique bois fixture from France goes perfectly in this Californian home filled with French antiques.  These types of antique fixtures are "hot" right now and are being copied and "fauxed" by most light companies.  These fixtures are easy to "fake" and I suspect that many of the ones sold as antiques today are actually new.  One of my favorite designs, I have this type in my dining room.


A new fixture with rock crystal and crystal beading on the metal arms.  This fixture is perfect in this setting - updated traditional.  The chair and drapery fabrics are a dead giveaway that this is a room meant for a young family.


In Europe, a quiet, sedate room with a huge, over the top crystal chandelier.  An iron or wood chandelier would have been the "safe: choice here, but instead the owners went for smashing!


In Belgium, a gorgeous Murano glass chandelier from Italy.   


A traditional dining room with a traditional chandelier.  The choice of fabric on the walls and the chairs give this room its special look.


And last, a close up of an Italian Murano glass chandelier. 


Houston Swedish Design



An antique Swedish Moro Clock sits in the hallway between the den and kitchen.

Last April, House Beautiful featured a Houston home that had been remodeled in true Swedish style.  The story made the cover and it was great fun for me because the owner is a friend of mine.  As is probably true of each story in a design magazine, there is always a more interesting tale that isn't told in its pages.  The home is located in Avalon, a section of River Oaks, Houston's toniest neighborhood.  But, this home isn't a mansion, it is a very livable 3,500 sq. ft.  The home is original to the neighborhood, so it is probably over 50 years old.  When the owners first moved in, they had just sold everything from their former house and they immediately got down to the business of amassing  an amazing collection of English antique furniture and paintings.  They spent years acquiring a house full of furniture - piece by piece.  Each purchase was deliberate and thoughtful, a process between the owners and their designer, Carol Glasser, one of Houston's finest.  It was a fascinating process to watch from the sidelines and one that could  cause great envy! Imagine the scenario - starting over completely from scratch and placing inside your home only that which you truly love -- no dreaded hand-me-downs and no make-do furniture.  This style of decorating is one at which Glasser excels.  She doesn't mind waiting years for just the "right" table or the "perfect" lamp to turn up.  This style might not be to everyone's liking, but these owners proved to be the perfect clients.  They embraced Glasser's style and, as a result, the finished project was perfect:  a cozy English, country-style home, filled with authentic antiques, Italian oil paintings, wall to wall seagrass, faux painted yellow and red walls, toile wallpapers, Bennison fabrics and Kenneth Turner candles.  It was an open, fun house - the site of many parties where people gathered around a roaring fire and lounged in the deep George Smith sofa, all the while remarking on how warm and inviting the home was.  So, it was a great surprise to many, including Glasser herself, when the wife declared she had changed.  She no longer loved her home's decor, she wanted a new look - a Swedish look - and not just a Swedish antique here and there, but a total, complete Swedish home.  And so, for the second time, everything in the house was either sold or was stored and they started the process of decorating their home, completely from scratch, again. 

On the sidelines, I looked on with amazement.  It was so exciting to watch - trips made to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana to visit an obscure, yet fabulous antique dealer from whom they purchased, amongst other things,  antique portraits of  unknown, serious Swedish citizens.  Piece after piece of beautiful peeling, gray painted Swedish antiques were procured from the ends of the earth.  The owners were ahead of the current Swedish trend and it worked to their advantage.  Glasser immediately enlisted the help of renown interior designer and author Katrin Cargill

from England.  Cargill's input in the project was formidable.  She had, after all, written a book on Swedish style. The house was taken down to it's studs and every single inch was changed - from the roof to the floors to the windows to the walls.  Nothing was usual or common, it was all custom and proved almost too difficult a job for the Houston builder who worked on the project. Cargill held to her guns and insisted on a certain degree of authenticity.  Their house is, without a doubt, the only house in Houston with limed, Canadian pine wood floors. 

Interestingly, the house had been a cover story before - the English interpretation was in  Country Living magazine several years prior.  Included here today are some of the pictures from that original story, although, unfortunately, there are a few missing.  Personally, I made out like a bandit in the switchover to the Swedish decor:  I now own a wonderful down-filled love seat in my bedroom that once lived in their sunroom, a glorious antique bulls-eye mirror from the French Quarter is now over my fireplace, my dining room chandelier once hung in their bedroom, and even some of my fabulous tortoiseshell blinds were once in their home!   What this couple did is something most of us will never be able to do:  to start over, with no baggage, and have only that which you absolutely love in your home, that is, until you change your style to - well, let's say something like - Indochine Chic.


The family room:  this half of the room is more dressy - antique French mantle, Swedish portrait to the right, antique Swedish table and chairs.


Family Room:  the other half with contemporary sofa upholstered in typical Swedish checks.  Authentic Swedish roll up shades, antique sofa faces "dressier" half.  For some unknown reason, no pictures were shown in the magazine of their beautiful living room.


Another view of family room from Cargill's web site.


Again, from Cargill's web site - blue family room with contemporary checked sofa.


The dining room:  Antique Swedish chandelier and sconces, buffet and mirror.  Chairs are reproduction Swedish.  Table is one of the only remaining pieces from the former English decor.  Moldings below are wood, above - painted.


From Cargill's web site:  dining room with antique faux Swedish stove on the left, view towards the family room.


Small sunroom is a highlight of the home.  Gray and white botanicals were photocopied, pasted on the walls and then handpainted to glorious effect.  Antique Swedish sofa, chair, demilune tables, and chandelier.  Checks are used again as they are in every room in the house.


The breakfast room is charming:  antique Swedish chairs, table.  Banquette is covered in checks, French linen used for shades.  Wallpaper is a red and cream Swedish pattern.


The kitchen has Carrera marble countertops, Swedish shades, and a turquoise, contemporary pendant fixture.


From Cargill's web site - same view, unstyled.


Another shot of the kitchen with it's custom hood.  Close up of wood paneled walls used throughout the home.


Close up of Swedish portrait of a lady in the family room.


Set of white French dishes with owners' initial.


The entrance hall, from Cargill's web site.  Note the doggie door that leads to a secret hiding spot.  Cargill inserted touches like this throughout the home.


One of the daughter's bedroom with antique furniture and red checks.  Note how the rug is actually three separate pieces. 


The master bedroom:  House Beautiful did not show any pictures of this room.  It is captured here from Cargill's web site, unstyled.   The room has Chelsea Editions fabric wall covering along with Chelsea Editions curtain fabric and furniture.  To the left, you can barely make out an antique Swedish sofa.


Country Living Magazine:  From the first incantation - the English version of the blue family room with its wonderful slipcovered furniture.  Coffee table was a tufted ottoman atop false books.  Italian paintings, Oushak rug over wall to wall seagrass.  Walls were faux painted yellow.


The original kitchen:  antique center island, freestanding range, large hanging pot rack and red and cream toile wallpaper.  Floors were painted hardwoods.

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Unseen in House Beautiful, the original living room:  Originally there were faux painted red walls, antique mantel, center ottoman, antique sofa, Colefax and Fowler chintz draperies.  Bullseye mirror over fireplace lives over my fireplace now!!


Original dining room:  same table, Kenneth Turner center basket, antique tole chandelier, leather French chairs, Oushak carpet over seagrass, antique mirror and sconces.  In the new Swedish remodel, doors were removed for cleaner lines and in order to create enfilades.


Original front facade, covered in ivy.  Rose garden to the left.

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New facade:  while windows are in the same place, they are new ones, new door color, ivy and shutters are long gone.  The biggest difference is the landscaping.  A landscape architect from England, brought to the project by Cargill, changed the center walkway.  Now an alee of clipped, square shaped trees creates a path up the center of the lawn.

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The "official" walkway up to the house is now on the right side of the facade.


My family room with the antique bulls eye mirror now resides over my fireplace.


My dining room chandelier moved from the owners' bedroom.  Hi Sammie Jo!!!

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And last, my bedroom with the love seat on the right under the tortoiseshell blinds moved from the owners previous sunroom.