Sunday, January 29, 2012

Light Changes Everything

     Lighting is essential to living in my opinion.  There is even a syndrome related to people who are shut in too long.  I love all kinds of lamps; table, floor, ceiling, arcing, fans, you name it.  I tend to lean toward crystal.  The shimmering way the light filters through the glass and the kaleidoscope patterns the crystals throw around the room can change the mood of not only the space, but the people in it too.  Think of candle-lit dinners, ambient light in restaurants, the sharp bathroom light, even the garish lights of a casino all have their place.

    There was a time I wanted to live in a museum.  Why not?  It had huge rooms, marble floors, huge columns, gargantuan chandeliers, and paintings already on the wall.  While I shared a small room with several siblings, a museum seemed like enough space.  Even though I loved the massive columns that supported the cavernous structure, it was the chandeliers that lifted my attention to the ceiling.  My museum of choice was the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York.  I don’t remember if it had chandeliers, but there was a lot of light coming in at just the right angle for the paintings.  At that time I’d never been to another art museum.  The Louve can dwarf the Albright-Knox, but I still go there every time I’m in the area.
    When I began dealing with lighting in my own house (never got the museum, but I incorporated some of the elements seen there), I shopped for the perfect chandelier.  I needed one for my dining room and one for the foyer.  There are many tall people in family and the light fixture was too low and they often walked into it.
    I decided on a Shonebek.  I visited the store four times before buying the dining room chandelier and it’s companion for my foyer.  Both were hanging from the ceiling in the lighting gallery.  Foolish me thought I would have to take it home fully assembled.  Not so.  The store manager informed me that they took every single crystal and every strand off the frame, labeled them as well as they labeled the stones of the London Bridge before shipping it to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  I took the two light fixtures home several days later in a collection of boxes.
    The gold frame went up like any ceiling light fixture.  Since we removed a light, the ceiling brace and wires were already in place.  Disconnecting and reconnecting them was the easy part.  Standards say the height of the light should be 30 to 36 inches off the table.  I chose 30 inches because it felt appropriate for the size (diameter) and length of the chandelier.  The light bulbs without the benefit of the glass crystals gave off a brilliant light.  Then I started with the crystals.  First thing is to pull on surgical gloves.  Fingerprints can dull the finish and prevent the light from properly defusing through the facets.
    A single crystal is the first to be hung.  Then the work progresses from the bottom to the top.  It’s methodical work, but delicate.  Assembling the smaller light in the foyer was a four hour process.  It was first one I’d ever done and I was cautious.  The directions seemed upside down to me, but I persevered and followed them.  Everything came out right.   Then I went on to the larger dining room fixture.  The strands had been packed in singly in tissue paper and then boxed.  I had to lay them all out and unwrap as I went along.  The result was dazzling.

    Several times a year, other than the required holidays, we have parties and use the dining room.  There are other times I just sit in the living room and look at it.  When the table is set and the napkins are standing in the glasses, the silverware is shining and the plates glistening as they wait for food, the room is filled with a warm glow that’s inviting.  It’s exactly what a dining room should be.


  1. Wow! That chandelier is awesome, I stare at it too!!

    A few blog friends and I are hosting our first link party tomorrow to finish off the Imagine the Impossibilities Challenge, we go live at 7amET. Today I revealed my project for the challenge, a gallery wall with only one screw in the wall. I'd love if you could come by to check it out and link up!
    Karah @ thespacebetweenblog = your newest follower

  2. Wow! I do NOT think I would have the patience to put that together, but it sure is beautiful!

  3. Karah,

    I don't think I can do 7 am ET. I'm hampered by trying to get a kid on the school bus by 8:15am. But I will look at the blog.

  4. Katie,

    You would have the patience when you think what a beautiful product you have at the end. I find everything is detail work. There is always something that takes time to learn or figure out.


  5. You are so right about light. But a Schonbek makes light special. When we were building, I had the pleasure of looking at Schonbek chandys at the lighting store. Gorgeous!