Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Dining Room: Decor Dilemma - Help!

The Ideal Dining Room (no, it isn't mine).  Photo:  House Beautiful, design by Susan Zises Green, exquisitely perfect chandelier by Niermann Weeks.

Not surprisingly, when I start one decorating project, my bumblebee mind takes me on another decorating tangent.  Luckily, no one is waiting for these rooms...

The tangent:  when I started researching light fixtures for our guest room, I immediately got sidetracked on chandeliers for our dining room.  Our dining room light fixture (which came with the house...I take no credit) is a miserable eyesore, as you can plainly see in the following photo.  Not only is it unattractive (brass...shudder), but it's not centered, thanks to the placement of our giant sideboard in the room:  
Before you freak out, we do plan to replace the pink rug (preferably with something gorgeous and inoffensively neutral).  It's a great wool rug (I inherited), but is outdated. I also have new ivory silk drapes to hang once I find a (small, nickel) rod (another unrequited quest).  Our dining room furniture is rather traditional.  I also intend to update the chairs with new upholstery once the rug colour is sorted out. 
In the meantime, the new fixture needs to work with my gradually-developing style, which I can only call pared down traditional.  I have studied many dining rooms and have seen a massive variety of light fixtures.  The ones I love most, sadly, require 15 ft ceilings, exquisite architectural detail in the room, and a second mortgage...

But for my present abode, I think a simpler fixture is in order.  I have begun to appreciate a modern look, which I think might prevent the room from looking too precious, too Grandma. 

I am rather fond of this fixture from Quoizel which is available in Calgary at Carrington Lighting (where I have received very friendly service compared to a couple of other shops).

Choice #1:  Classic modern with drum-shade
Initially when these drum-type shades came into vogue, I deplored them.  I still don't care for the plain rectangular drum shades and find them boring, but this one looks a little different, with the trapezoidal shape and the (faux) crystal detail.  The shade is ivory linen and the material is polished chrome, not nickel as I initially hoped, but it looks similar.

I might not have noticed this style of fixture if I hadn't recently seen this dining room, by homeowner/designer Heidi Smith, with a dressed-up drum shade that caught my eye:

I am also fond of the grande chandelier, but let's face it, I just don't have the house to go with a fixture like this:

I know I could pick a smaller crystal-style chandelier, but I wonder if it is overkill in my humble home.  It's hard to find a simple crystal/glass chandelier in nickel for under $600 (my rough budget).   I did find this little beauty online (not nickel) for a very good price, thanks to a tip from Things That Inspire:

Choice #2:  Fancy but simple enough to be pretty and not pretentious!  
Is this too much for our little house?  I would need to change out some of the decor to work with this, like getting a fancier mirror for over the sideboard, etc.

I've also been scouting simple candle-style chandeliers, like this beauty from Restoration Hardware (below) which is rather over budget ($950 USD including shipping and taxes).  But it is both classic and simple.  They ship to Canada, but I'm out 20% of the cost if I want to return it.

Choice #3:  Clean and simple and bloody expensive

I also like the fixture (below) from Home Depot Canada.  I was impressed to learn that Home Depot Canada (which is separate from the U.S. version), has free shipping (sometimes), free returns (always), and they give you 90 days to make up your mind!  This fixture, in brushed nickel, is from Progress Lighting.

Choice #4:  Clean and simple and affordable
Home Depot had such a great price on this fixture ($55 to $105 cheaper than stores in Calgary) that I ordered it online just to try.  I can always return it!

I am also rather fond of lantern-style shades and see a number of designers using them in dining areas, but I honestly think they are better suited to (a) entryways (b) over round tables in breakfast rooms, if you must and (c) well-decorated stables!
Photo: Adapted from a Windsor Smith room (I love you Windsor and you can do no wrong by me)

What do you think?  Should I try the modern fixture or stick with something tranditional?  Do you have any wonderful online lighting sources you could recommend?


  1. Terri, I love how you think through your design decisions so carefully. I am the opposite: I see wha I want and buy it, or buy the next best thing because I just can't wait (or afford it). I do have a few things I haven't completed yet in my home, because I haven't found the right things, but often it is because I really can't afford the piece I'd like. So, I guess I have some of that in me, but mostly I buy on first a mad fool!!

    I hope you enjoyed your Canada Day holiday. Isn't it nice to get a day off in the middle of the week?!


  2. I love reading about your design thoughts in a room, particularly dining rooms, which are near and dear to my heart!

    As you may know, I pondered and pondered what to do about my dining room chandelier. My house came with a builder grade 1980s brass and black chandelier - awful - I lived with it for so many years. When I was thinking about putting my house on the market last year, my realtor came over and said that I had to replace it - immediately. Of course, I love the Niermann Weeks one you have in your picture, and all of the investment quality chandeliers. But, I really wanted to get a chandelier that I could leave with the house.

    Guess what? I found one - for only $275 USD!!!!! I love how it looks. It really transformed the room (I should post on it!). I had to completely assemble it myself - and they sent me the crystal chains for the taller version (luckily, it was easy to shorten them myself). It is not an heirloom chandelier, but it had good form and I like it!

    Here it is:

    The website has tons and tons of chandeliers, very reasonably priced. I felt like I was taking a risk by ordering this sight unseen, but it all worked out! I will email you an image from my iphone.

  3. Terri,
    This is my first time commenting on your very interesting blog. I, too, have been less fond of the drum shade chandeliers because they can look so trendy. That said, I really liked the Quoizel fixture that you pictured first. To me, it is clean and well proportioned and I could see it looking good years down the road--it will not look as if you bought it at home depot in the 2000's.

    Don't get rid of the rug. It might not work in your dining room, but it might look fabulous somewhere else.

  4. I'm with tc! On both the lamp and the rug. Plus I like a good challenge, so I'd try to make the rug look great by accessorizing - which also would give you more money to spend on other stuff! I'm boring, I know...
    Is it difficult to find nickel rods for curtains? Maybe they have something you could use in a bathroom store - nickel is quite common in towel hangers and stuff, isn't it? Or is it chrome I'm thinking of? Sorry, I haven't quite got the colour terminology, I'm afraid...
    I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for eventually!

  5. Hmm, I would stick with something that’s not going to go out of style quickly. While #1 is my favorite, I would be afraid it would become too passé too quickly. With that said, what do I know, it could be around forever haha. I also love #3, not sure what it is about it, it’s really simple but still chic. Also, if you loved the crystal one maybe you could get crystals for #3 and gussy it up a bit- worst case you get sick of the crystals and remove them with no damage :)

    Good luck, I can’t wait to see what you pick!

  6. I feel much better know that I'm not the only one that has a hard time stying focused on one room at a time :-).

    You have some beautiful options there. That Restoration Hardware one is stunning, but the price tag is a bit outrageous. I think the crystal chandelier (#2) would look great. I also like #4, but I don't know if it would feel too simple for you...I like it though.

    Good luck!

  7. Hi, it's Grandma! You're going to just love the advice I have. Right? I knew it.

    Okay, for me, I intensely dislike large, hanging ceiling lighting of any kind whatsoever. It is always improperly located or it will be if you ever decide to change furniture arrangement. For that reason, I would think this one through verrrry carefully. I can not tell you how frustrated I am by my own brand new and I-am-not- able-to-change-it lighting. So that's my two cents for what it's worth. If I had my preference, I would depend upong lamps on sideboards and candles on the table. If I had to have central lighting (and I wouldn't be happy about it, I'd go with a close to the ceiling fixture.)

  8. You have already gotten great advice from so many readers.I enjoyed reading through your process and your plans. I am a "by what you love" person. That being said, a chandelier is an investment, so buy what you love AND think will stand the test of time.Lovely blog - so glad I read your post today. I could use a little more thought and focus in my decorating!

  9. My favorites are the one you ordered from Home Depot Canada and the first drum fixture. I think they're both fantastic!

  10. Wow....I loved that - hearing your heart's process and I loved the chandeliers....

  11. John was just reading my earlier comment. He started to chuckle. I said, "What?" More grins. "WHAT?"
    "Kinda intense," was his response. He's correct, of course, but he is the one who is always smacking his head on that danged light. ;D

  12. Anonymous4:16 pm

    In the meantime, maybe you can flip your rug over? Perhaps the obverse is more muted, less pink? (If you google "Darryl Carter" and "rug" you might find a picture).

    You have great pieces. It just takes time...

  13. I am trying to looking for a house which have a great dining room, once I saw a beautiful house through costa rica homes for sale
    I think those houses are very wonderful. I am really interested now because they are very wide and beautiful.

  14. I love the look of drum shade chandeliers, that's what I would go with personally. However, it is your dining room and you can do whatever you want with it.