Now that summer is here, a lot of people are considering home improvement projects, but you don’t have to tear down walls or rearrange the furniture to make a statement. In most cases, reworking the lighting is all it will take to transform a room from drab to fab.
“When people go into model homes and see what’s in – the high ceilings, angled walls and dramatic lighting – they want to recreate those looks in their own homes, but run into limitations. Unless they’re willing to spend a lot of money on renovations, they can’t do anything about the shape of the room, but decorative lighting can be used to transform the space and create a sense of style anywhere,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, educational consultant for the American Lighting Association and professor of interior design at the University of Kentucky.
Rey-Barreau travels the country tracking lighting trends, and believes one of the reasons decorative lighting has become so popular in the past two or three years is because it allows you to easily add a modern touch to any room without having to make expensive upgrades.
Among the many options gaining in popularity, putting recessed cans in kitchen and living areas to better balance the light, installing track lighting above areas you want to highlight, putting up picture lights to showcase photos and artwork and adding pendants that will allow you to showcase a small area. These days, lights are being hung over islands and peninsulas in kitchens, and in rooms dedicated to entertainment, over bars and gathering spots in basements.
“When you think of a pendant, the image that comes to mind is probably a small, obscure fixture hanging from the ceiling to light a specific area, but these days they are anything but obscure,” says Rey-Barreau. “They are fashion statements.”
Pendants are now available in all shapes, sizes and looks ranging from traditional to eclectic.
“The pendant offerings we have found our customers reacting favorably to have been those with a color pallet consistent with an Asian Fusion, Retro and Tuscan/Mediterranean style. Those utilizing calming neutrals with clear hues infused with light are popular as well,” says Cory Echito, product development manager for Juno Lighting Group in Chicago.
Shelly Wang, general manager for W.A.C. Lighting in New York, says the hottest sellers right now are small pendants featuring colored and multi-colored glass. “People are seeking out the most unusual fixtures they can find and putting them up not just for the purpose of lighting a room, but also to be conversation pieces,” she says.
Pendant fixtures made of metal can give a room an almost gothic look. Ceramic fixtures can be painted any color under the sun.
“If you’re looking for a more unique look, a popular material to go with is Murano glass that is hand-blown in Italy,” says Ray-Barreau. “Each one is an original work of art.”
Some Murano fixtures feature a single color of glass blown into a bell- or bowl-shaped fixture. Others are tapestries of color twisting and turning into unusual shapes. Once you hang the pendant up and add a light bulb, color dances across the ceiling or wall where the light is pointed.
Just as varied as the colors and materials available for pendants are the methods of display. “A lot of people are putting up not one, but two, three or even four pendants in a circle or row to emphasize a space,” says Pfeiffer. “Some people hang each of them from single channel fixtures. I’ve also seen them displayed on tracks.”