The chandelier used to mark your arrival. Clad in crystal, it met you in the foyer of a well-appointed home, then dazzled you from a power position over the diningroom table.
Rarely did you find a chandelier in a starter home. To see them illuminating any room other than one used for entry or dining, more unusual still.
How times have changed.
Today, chandeliers rate as a brilliant idea just about anywhere -- from modest homes to magnificent mansions, contemporary digs to traditional houses. They dangle decorously in almost every room of the house.
Credit our bigger-is-better building boom. Taller ceilings and increased volume in today's homes means chandeliers are less likely to crowd a room.
"Nine-and-10-foot ceilings almost demand something hanging to fill the space," says Joe Rey-Barreau, educational consultant for the American Lighting Association (ALA) and assistant professor of interior design at the University of Kentucky. The ALA is a non-profit organization of leading manufacturers, retail lighting showrooms and sales representatives in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to expanding public knowledge about lighting.
Colorful chandeliers create drama in the kitchen. Teeny ones provide elegance to powder rooms. Even walk-in closets go upscale when lit with a small chandelier.
"Beyond laundry rooms and garages, any room is an open target for hanging a chandelier," adds Rey-Barreau. "More commonly, kitchens and bathrooms have become the popular locations for chandeliers."
Chandeliers add twinkle to a boudier. "People are treating their bedroom suites as more luxurious personal spaces with elaborate bathroom areas, so it is not unreasonable to consider chandeliers there, either," says Dan Blitzer, Director of Education for the ALA..
"Chandelettes," or mini chandeliers, add a new sense of intimacy to small rooms and to corner spaces and alcoves of larger ones. "Minis are even being used as wall sconces in some instances -- and they look fantastic," says lighting and furniture designer Sergio Orozco whose offices are in New York City.
These compact chandeliers are nine-12 inches in diameter to slip easily into tight spaces. For added impact, consider grouping them.
"You can hang two small ones over a kitchen counter and the result is gorgeous," says Eileen Schonbek-Beer, with Schonbek Worldwide Lighting. The manufacturer has been making crystal chandeliers for 134 years. "These smaller chandeliers also work in more modest homes or where there are 8 ft. ceilings."
Chandeliers have also sized up to accommodate the soaring foyers and sweeping two-story spaces of larger homes. "The demand for massive chandeliers to fill these areas has also increased," says Schonbek-Beer. "A 20 ft. ceiling today is no longer unusual."
The experts at the American Lighting Association have spotted the following trends in chandeliers:
"American styles are decidedly eclectic and homeowners today are very comfortable mixings styles," says Blitzer. "Chandeliers lends themselves neatly to that process. You can look for a chandelier that is inspired by the period reflected in the room you are putting it, but you don't have to. Many contemporary designs are a blend of traditional elements with modern materials -- glass and alabaster with polished chromoe or satin nickel, which makes them work with a variety of styles."
Color me beautiful:
Dim lit: Whether they are ornate and multi-armed or simply feature a large-scale bowl, chandeliers need a dimmer so homeowners can control the intensity of light. "Most of the time, the lighting capability of a chandelier is more than is actually necessary to light the space," says Rey-Barreua. "They should always be controlled by a dimmer to add to the aesthetic appeal."