DRAB TO DRAMTIC
DEOCORATIVE LIGHTING TRENDS
Next to new wall color, nothing changes a room’s appearance more dramatically than lighting. And today’s
homeowners have more ways to transform their homes with light than
Layering light remains the
most pervasive trend, notes Jeffrey Dross, product manager for Kichler
the kitchen, for example. Previously, it often had a single lighting
fixture in the middle of the ceiling. Today, there’s under-cabinet
lighting, above cabinet lighting, inside-cabinet lighting, pendants over
a chandelier over the table, rope lighting in the toe kick and recessed
lights wherever needed.” Two of the hottest fixtures creating
extra layers of light are chandeliers and sconces.
adding a little luxury to unexpected areas of the home,” says Dross.“
In fact, I’ve seen a chandelier in every room
I can think of except the laundry room. To accommodate these
chandeliers are now available in more sizes.
“Kichler makes 15 miniature chandeliers called Chandelettes™. They match traditional, full-size families of fixtures, have a single tier and are around 16 inches in diameter. Two or three of these mini chandeliers can light the length of a dining room table– instead of merely illuminating the center of the table with a single chandelier. I’ve seen people put a row of them in a hallway or use a pair on either side of a bed or flanking a vanity mirror. Their demure height also makes them a viable option for rooms with 8- foot ceilings.
“With today’s volume ceilings, companies are adding chandeliers taller than the conventional 25- to 30-inch height. We are including 36-, 49- and even up to 57-inch chandeliers that fit comfortably in a 2-story foyer.”
David Kane, a lighting consultant for United Lighting
Design, and Laurie Claxton, a lighting consultant for The Light
Palace, both divisions of United Electric Supply in
Omaha, Nebraska, also note the boom in
chandeliers. “When people hear the word ‘chandelier,’ they
may picture an ornate, tiered fixture with crystal baubles,” remarks Kane, “but it actually applies to any pendant with arms and runs the whole gamut– including clean, contemporary looks and simple fixtures with glass shades.
“Today’s chandeliers often mix traditional elements
with contemporary materials,” Kane continues. “Fixtures with alabaster and satin nickel are quite popular. Even in contemporary approaches, using a satin or brushed nickel instead of chrome tones down what might otherwise look high tech and makes
it warmer. Plus, it becomes more transitional, allowing it to blend with
“There are also more choices in glass.
Not only can you choose from clear or milk white glass, but now white
alabaster and cream alabaster have made a comeback, along with toned and
colored glass, giving you the color options of amber, blue, red and more.
Italian and European glass are prevalent, with an emphasis on an old style
called Scavo. Scavo glass has a noticeable texture on the outside and
looks like it has been sandblasted.”
“Colored crystal is also new,” adds Claxton.“Bernard Picasso and Schoenbeck have come out with fixtures with blue, green and red crystals. I recently included a pink chandelier in a young girl’s bedroom.
“Tiffany glass is making a huge comeback,” Claxton continues. “And it’s higher quality than much of it from the 80’s, with heavy leading and thick glass. Quoizel and Meyda Tiffany are two of the prominent manufacturers right now.”
"Sconces are enjoying renewed popularity,” notes
Dross, “combined with a chandelier
in a foyer, creating umbrellas of light in a hallway, adding ambience
in the dining room, flanking a bathroom mirror or a fireplace
in the great room. Like chandeliers, sconces have grown to accommodate
volume ceilings. Five years ago, most sconces were eight inches
high. Today, we have sconces that are 20 inches and 32 inches.
“Even so, it’s important to place sconces appropriately
to fill expansive vertical spaces. Sconces can be located from 60 to 72 inches from the floor. In ten- to twelve-foot ceiling areas, or great rooms with twice that height, they may be most attractive at heights over 72
“In the high-end homes we’re designing ($350,000+), I’m seeing a trend toward more well-designed, well-placed recessed lighting and a few decorative fixtures to tie a design or theme together,” says Kane. “Standard downlighting utilizes 5-inch or 6-inch diameter cans. Three- and 4-inch diameter cans are used for specialty and accent lighting.”
Rail Lighting Systems
For a more high-tech
feel, a bendable rail lighting system can
give track lighting a fresh look. Suspended, rather than mounted
flush to the ceiling, a rail system allows the designers to
create a continuous and flowing design with the rail itself,
making it another element of the overall design. By using heads
or pendants with matching glass and metal finishes, the rail
can repeat a design or motif used elsewhere in the home.
The rail systems are easy to work
with and allow the designer a wide variety of
creative options. “I’ve even created a circle with the
rail and suspended pendants above a table,” says
Kane. “It’s a fresh alternative
to a chandelier.”
More attention is being paid to light quality as well. “In recent years, many homeowners made do with a light strip above their vanity because that’s where the electrician put the outlet box during the home’s construction,” Dross recalls. “Overhead lights by themselves produce glare and shadows, but most homeowners were reluctant to spend the money for rewiring. Now, Kichler offers an accessory kit so they can swag pendants or mini chandeliers from the outlet box (some weight and diameter restrictions apply). Or they may consider one of our new products called the Beauty Wrap™. Mounted from the box in the center, it provides lights both above and on either side of the mirror.”
Today’s homeowners are finding considerably more
green choices in lighting fixtures. “This is one of my pet areas,” Dross comments. “I’ve put together a line of 104 energy efficient fixtures, and my goal was to make them so attractive and interesting that people would be surprised to learn they were fluorescent. And, of course, the color of fluorescent
bulbs has improved greatly over
the years. To find a fluorescent bulb that looks like an
incandescent, look for one with a color rendering index
(CRI) in the high 70’s to mid 80’s and a Kelvin
temperature around 2700. Energy-conscious homeowners are
also switching recessed lights from incandescent to fluorescent.”