ORC Week 3: Let Your Light Shine (or, How to Create a Lighting Plan that Flows without Boring Yourself to Death)

Welcome to Week 3 of Home Glow Design’s One Room Challenge: My Artfully Fresh Foyer. Today I’m tackling lighting. In case you missed them, feel free to check out weeks 1 (inspiration) and 2 (paint color and the myth of mega framing sales).


And now….

Lighting: Going with the Flow

Unlike someone with an open floor plan, I hadn’t yet had to consider how my lighting flowed beyond my general idea of “fresh, classic” and my plan for finishes in formal rooms vs. casual, or upstairs vs. downstairs — until now. Old houses have small rooms separated by doors (or doorways) — all the easier to heat them with wood fires!

The foyer/stairway/second floor landing thus presented me with a new challenge. How to make the lighting flow but make it interesting? I’d been thinking about this area of my house for well over a year, and I had a fairly good idea of what I was going to do. Then the wonderful Kristie Barnett, aka “The Decorologist,” wrote a fantastic post about just this topic back in August, and it so simply lays out all that had been going on in my head. My takeaways:

  1. Choose your dominant/focal fixture first.
  2. Vary the next fixture, but repeat the finish and the shape of #1.
  3. As you move along, you can change styles, but keep the finish or the shape from one to the next.
  4. Don’t forget your lamps!

My Focal Fixture(s)

With a 200+ year old farmhouse, I consider myself lucky to have even 8 foot ceilings. Even so, no foyer lanterns for me. Gotta go flush. I long ago began my clandestine love affair with this semi-flush mount from Visual Comfort:

Visual Comfort Thomas O'Brien Clark Flush Mount in Hand-Rubbed Antique Brass with White Glass
Thomas O’Brien Clark Flush Mount in Hand-Rubbed Antique Brass

Isn’t it adorable? I feel like I should be having an English breakfast with soft boiled eggs on the ceiling with Mary Poppins. However, though it’s a riff on historical overheads from the late 19th-early 20th centuries, I did worry that the Clark might be a little too fresh for my handsome husband. So I also considered this semi-flush smoke bell lantern from Hudson Valley Lighting as well:

Hampton Semi-Flush in Aged Brass

Very appropriate, very tasteful, very lovely. Know what the husband said? “I like the cool one.” I love my man! (BTW, I was also worried about the Hampton being a dust catcher. I love decorating. I loathe cleaning.) Decision made! The Clark!

Eggs, anyone?

Moving on Up & Mixing It Up

Next we go up the stairs. This has been a dark, dismal, unlit area as long as we’ve owned this house. And remember this double height, narrow wall?

Gotta visually fill this somehow. Technically, one would not be able to see any potential fixture here from the foyer, but I feel there needs to be some congruity regardless. I was planning to change my fixtures to bronze on the second floor (historically, a less formal finish and appropriate to the private rooms of the house), and I thought this would be the place to make the switch. Because of that switch in finishes, I want continuity in shape. My thought was to hang a lantern of some sort here, but how to get something tall but not too wide, and still round?

I found this on Wayfair:

Elgin 4 Light Global Pendant by Savoy House

(Btw, bronze and brass look amazing together if you’re trying to mix finishes.)

Ain’t it “loverly?” (Who else out there adores My Fair Lady?) The Elgin Pendant repeated my round shape and filled the space. The purist in me wishes I could have had Northeast Lantern copy this model in real aged brass or bronze, but the funds just weren’t there. With every room — at least for most people of my acquaintance — there are areas where you spend, and areas where you save. I spent on the Clarks, I had to save moving forward.

On to the second floor, I chose simple bronze sconces that have a “swoop” to them, kind of reminiscent of the open round lantern.

Thomas O’Brien Vendome Sconce in Bronze


They look pretty nice with my dark brown banister! Remember that nasty overhead?

Single light source crowding attic hatch, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

It’s gone now. Thank goodness. Can’t do much about the rest of this mess, but I did have the attic hatch painted the same matte White Dove as the rest of the ceiling rather than the trim paint (Linen White in the Advance formulation), so it isn’t screaming “LOOK AT ME!!!!” quite so much.

Between the boys’ rooms, I wanted a something simple, utilitarian, but again, a little reminiscent of the turn of the last century. The light I originally wanted was backordered 60 days. But Rejuvenation had this:

Thurman 2 1/4IN in Oil-Rubbed Bronze with Opal Bell Shade

It mimics the triangular shape of the sconce shades, but brought back the white milk glass of my foyer Clark fixtures. And it was available Quick Ship. Done.

Sometimes simple is best.

While you’re with me, I want to give a shout out to my electrician, Lenn Johnson, and his assistant Nate. Lenn is a fourth generation electrician (his great-grandfather was the first electrician in Concord, NH), and he knows old houses and all their messed up wiring through and through. I was in a total bind, and they squeezed me in between bigger jobs and got it done well and fast and were so courteous. Couldn’t recommend more highly, for you local readers. If you call him, let him know I sent you!

No, I didn’t use a curved lens. That is my chimney (one of them). Welcome to 1790.

Last but Not Least — Don’t Forget the Lamps!!!

OHHHHHHH, the LAMPS! Well, lamp, in this case. Anybody out there have a lamp fetish like I do? I buy too many and can’t resist when I see something unique and beautiful. Kinda like my chair fetish. I have a few chairs that don’t have homes yet, too.

I love really saturated blues, turquoise in particular. It naturally follows that I love French blue opaline glass. (Eddie Ross is famous for this vice.) A year and a half ago, I found these lamps on eBay and snatched them up with no particular place for them in mind.

Please note, the color is WAY off in this eBay listing photo.

The color is gorgeous with my inspiration painting, but they definitely needed some work. I wanted to take one of them apart and get rid of the trappings of their gas origins, “French” wire them (more on that below), and put them on beautiful acrylic bases.

Bye, bye gas-to-electric conversions.
Bye, bye yucky cord pipe.
Hellooooo sexy fresh, clean, acrylic base!

And of course, add a beautiful silk shade. Ta-DAHHH!


I love the way the baluster shape is nearly the same silhouette as the Clark fixtures. And when the lamp is on, the blue opaline GLOWS. I’m so glad I removed that yucky tube.

The To-Do List

  1. Repair plaster walls and ceilings
  2. Remove rug up to where boys’ bedrooms start
  3. Paint
  4. Install new stair runner (ordered)
  5. Install new foyer lights, stair lighting, and second floor landing lighting
  6. Have window treatment made (fabric on order — this will be a close one)
  7. Frame Cloud Towers
  8. Take apart and rewire lamp
  9. Get lamp shade made
  10. Order bench for beneath console (ordered)
  11. Accessorize with entry accoutrements, stairway art, family pictures, and throw rugs

Designer Insider: The Mystery of French Wired Lamps

French wired lamps are nothing new in design. It is a type of lamp where the cord comes directly from the socket rather than having the wire pass through the lamp’s vase and out the bottom. You can find them aplenty on the web — especially on lamps with crystal bases where one wouldn’t want to have the beauty disrupted by a metal column.

Restoration Hardware’s Crystal Banister Lamp, Pottery Barn’s Marston Crystal Lamp

French wiring is also handy if you want to make a lamp from a vase and you don’t want to drill a hole in the bottom.

I wanted to French wire my blue opaline lamp so that the lovely blue would glow better. But when I set about to French wire a lamp on my own, I called a million lamp parts shops and no one, I mean NO ONE, knew what I was talking about. So how did I do it?

Unlike last week, I am going to split this ORC installment into two posts. So, sorry, the design industry exposé will be fulfilled Saturday morning on my regular post. If you’re here for the ORC and still curious, stop by Home Glow Design’s Saturday Blog to discover the way to do it on your own!


What do you think of the lighting plan? Any comments on the Decorologist’s advice? Until Saturday morning, then!


P.S. Sorry for the continued blurry pics! Apparently my camera’s lens is broken, making it impossible to use the auto-focus. It is also apparent that I am an idiot and can’t tell when something is sharp when I focus manually. (I have terrible vision.) Following the ORC, I will try to get a new lens. 

8 thoughts on “ORC Week 3: Let Your Light Shine (or, How to Create a Lighting Plan that Flows without Boring Yourself to Death)”

  1. I want to marry that lamp. I love all of your lighting selections; they work beautifully together. Classic and cool. Looking forward to the expose! The suspense!

    1. Thank you! I know how you feel. My husband is beginning to grow jealous from the way that I’ve been gazing lovingly at it for the last two days. 🙂

    1. Oh I’m glad to hear someone else likes them, too! There’s always a little part of me that’s nervous when I choose something “fixed” that’s out-of-the-ordinary. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I’m rather smitten myself! I have one left for a future project. 😉 Hope you like the final result!

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