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.
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.
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.
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.