The Jewels of the Room

The Dos and Don'ts of Lighting


My father-in-law, Nunni (as we called him) was the definition of the American Dream.  Migrating from Sicily to Massachusetts, he worked around-the-clock to provide for his jazzy Italian wife and four curly-haired, vivacious children. He opened the Harbor Lights with his son-in-law, a business that aside from his tight-knit family, was his pride and joy. Nunni poured all that he had into his company and soon he became the local and trustworthy know-how for everything to do with lighting.

It is my father-in-law and his admirable pursuit that inspired our next entry:  The Dos and Don’ts of Lighting. Nunni used to perpetually tell his customers, “Lighting is like women wearing jewelry; a light is like the jewels of the room.” Ivory & Bone could not agree with him more.



Go Big or Go Home 

The right size fixture is a key choice. Have you ever driven by a house and the main entrance isn't quite right? Often times, the front door’s lighting fixtures are way too small. Be aggressive in your new choice, go large and go bold to help make a grand statement. This is your home so show it off!  Correspondingly, if you want light posts on your front walkway, choose outdoor lanterns that are large and in charge.

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Underestimate the Value of Lighting that Stands Out

Lighting can date a home as fast as popcorn ceilings. New homeowners are quick to change wall colors, carpeting, and drapes but updated lighting can give you a big bang for your buck. Elegance is the imperative word here. Yes, these lighting fixtures can give you an aesthetic benefit but also an opportunity to provide sophistication as your guests are forced to simply look up.  It expands your overall vision, which creates a subconscious feeling of spaciousness.

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Look to the Outdoors!

One of the ways to bring the outdoors in is to use outdoor lighting inside. Copper, brass, and other metal lanterns are often being seen now in dining rooms, kitchens, and foyers. An outdoor ceiling fixture can be used in a hallway and outdoor wall sconces can be used to frame a fireplace or bed. These rough materials add strength, versatility, and uniqueness.

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Overdose on Chandeliers

You can never have too many chandeliers. Chandeliers are usually seen in dining rooms, hallways, or nurseries, but chandeliers can bring warmth to any room. A chandelier in a bathroom instantly projects a luxurious feel. A chandelier in a bedroom  provides an intimate, cozy feel. A chandelier in a living room gives it a rare, interesting feel.

Be sure to hang your chandelier low enough to be part of the room. You do not want to knock yourself out, literally, but you want your chandelier to be noticeable. (See below for additional hanging tips)

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Overlook the Small Stuff

One overhead ceiling light won’t cut it. Make sure you have enough appropriately dispersed lighting in your home. A good rule-of-thumb is to have a minimum of three lamps per room.

Functionality is a priority to EVERY homeowner.  Dark lampshades are “in Vogue” but you must take this into consideration, as this will affect your visibility.  You may need to compensate by purchasing an additional light source.

Placement is also an important factor. Whether it’s two lamps on a sofa table or two sconces on either side of a couch, look at all possibilities. To create an elegant surprise, try a tiny lamp in an unexpected location such as a bookshelf, kitchen counter, or bathroom vanity.





Revere the Mood Influence

Ah, the lavishness of new construction… If you are lucky enough to be building a new home or have the means to renovate, it’s a perfect world. You can put in recessed lighting to alleviate the pressure of placing a lamp on every tabletop. We recommend a lot of recessed lighting (don’t forget corners and hallways that tend to be dark). Even track lighting has become popular again. Just make sure your ceiling lights are on a dimmer switch to avoid feeling like you live in the middle of the Chicago O’Hara Airport. Here, you now have the option to create different moods in various rooms.



Take it from our beloved Nunni, treat lighting like an elegant accessory that can brighten not only your actual house, but moreover, the feel and experience of your entire home.



Quick Tips:

*Kitchen and dining light fixtures should hang about 30-34” above a table (add 1” for every foot past a standard 8ft ceiling height).

*“For overhead fixtures in rooms such as a living room or entry way that are not hanging over a table:

To determine a good width for your light fixture, measure the length and width of the room in feet and add those two measurements together - the number that you come up with is, in inches, a good appropriate width (For example, if your room measures 10 feet x 15 feet, add 10 + 15 to get 25. A 25" wide fixture would be appropriate for this space.) For rooms with high ceilings, you can add up to 6" or more to the width of the chandelier.

To determine a good height for your light fixture, multiply the height of your ceiling (in feet) by 2.5 and by 3. The height of your fixture should be, in inches, somewhere in this range. (For example, if you have 8 foot ceilings, 8 x 2.5 = 20 and 8 x 3 = 24. An appropriate height for your light fixture would be between 20" and 24" when measured from the ceiling to the bottom of the fixture).

An overhead fixture that will be walked under, such as in the entry, should hang 7 feet or more above the floor.”


*In my opinion, there are three types of under-cabinet lighting worth looking into, Xenon, Halogen, and LED.  I have seen all three in person and this my assessment:

  • LED lights are the most energy efficient choice.  There have been many advances in this technology. However, I am not a fan of the cool, bluish light that LEDs produce.  On the other-hand, I say this with a heavy heart because the “green” benefits are unparalleled.
  • Halogens project the most beautiful light out of the bunch.  They make your countertops sparkle like Dennis Quade’s baby blues.  However, Halogen takes a lot of energy and needs to be replaced more than other alternatives, plus it emits a lot of heat!
  • Xenon–my favorite option. This light is warm and inviting and does not need to be replaced often.  Heat is present but the pros weigh out the cons here.


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