Behind the Design: Ivy Lane Helps Me With an Upgrade Eight Years in the Making

Since moving into our home nearly eight years ago, there has been one thing that has bugged me and my husband. The light fixture in our foyer is hideous. The builder did a really great job overall, but clearly lighting was not a big priority. Is this a first-world problem? Of course, of course, and I realize that I am lucky enough to be in a position to complain about something that, in the scheme of life’s challenges, is pretty trivial. But still. Over the years we have invested a lot into transforming this spec house into our home, one that feels like us, where we raise our kids and welcome family and friends. And the first impression upon entering this home we’ve created? This. Sad. Fixture.

Since we’ve had so many snow days and teacher work days this January, we’ve been spending more time as a family in the formal living room, now dubbed the “reading room” because this is where we make the kids read (pro tip: forced family reading time equals peace and quiet). Well this room is directly off the foyer. Our distaste for the ugly light has steadily increased and it is now officially taunting us. Like, how have we let something annoy us for so long, especially when it’s so easily addressed? I mean, we are talking about buying a new fixture. This is hardly a major renovation.

And then I started looking and was quickly overwhelmed not only by the seemingly limitless choices, but by what would work best in the existing space. Did we want another pendant? Or is that weird within the same sight line as the dining room chandelier? So maybe a flush-mount? In what finish? And will it function for us? It can’t just be pretty with like three candelabra bulbs — it actually needs to light the space effectively. And do we go with a more formal vibe, a la the dining and living rooms? Or more transitional since the rest of the hall has earthy elements like a hide rug, cypress stools, and ceramic lamps?

So you can see where this is going. Once again I played the editor card and asked our Stylebook experts, Courtney and Alex of Ivy Lane Interiors, to weigh in on my finalists.


The Flush Mounts


The Pendants


The Experts’ Opinions

Courtney: First of all, I’m wondering if you noticed all of the overlap in your design choices. You selected three designs shown in flush mounted and pendant options: the white, glass globes; the iron mesh; and the flower-y-shaped cylinder. As designers, when we see clients drawn to particular looks consistently, without even realizing it, we know where to start. So I think it’s safe to say that although you liked several flush mount options, the fact that you didn’t pick their pendant versions means that maybe there is something not quite right about the look.

Alex: Yes, in particular the gem stone fixture and the feathery scroll fixture. These are pretty glam, and in a pendant they would read very glam. If we were looking solely for a fixture that worked with the adjacent living room and dining room, these would be viable options, but the fact that we have the more transitional / less formal spaces ahead makes me think you shied away from the glam for a good reason.

Courtney: Conversely, you’ve pulled some ideas that read a little too modern for the formal entry space. Those square fixtures are great but very small: only about six inches. In the right space, a 4×4 grid install would be a great focal point…but it would read industrial-chic…so, not for you!

Alex: I had to laugh when I saw the black, spiky fixture. You know you can’t do that — you have the same look already on your living room wall! But I like that your taste is consistent, ha!


On gold/brass versus black/rubbed bronze:

Courtney: In this case, you have enough touches of each in the living and dining rooms — the brass chandelier, the iron curtain rods, the black, spiky anemones on the wall — that you really could do either. I think it will come down to what form you like best, and what finishes it is available in.


On flush mount versus pendant:

Alex: I love hanging pendants, they are like jewelry for your home. And no, it’s not weird to have them near each other. In order to maintain a pleasing balance, however, you’ll want to vary the shape. Since your dining room chandelier is very open and airy, you would want to select a pendant that feels a bit more substantial, “heavier.” Of your choices, as much as we know you love Chinoiserie, the two lantern options feel too similar to the chandelier and can be ruled out.

Courtney: Another thing to consider is how the pendant is hung. For your foyer, we like the link options better than the conduit choices, again, to vary the aesthetic since you have a conduit in the dining room. It’s worth noting, though, that many pendants we can order with either a link or conduit, and of course we can customize the height. The pendant with the glass globes above, for example, would definitely need to be shortened. Even with your 10-foot ceiling height, at this height you’d risk people walking into it!

Alex: Let’s talk a bit more about that glass globes pendant. It is such a fun statement piece, and we think it could work, but that it might be a better fit in a two-story entry way, that is, it might be too much of a statement for your space. And it might feel just a bit too whimsical next to the dining room.

Courtney: So that leaves us with the black globe, the drum shade, and the gold. Honestly, we like all three, so here’s where we do a deeper dive. The drum shade, while it stands in nice contrast with the dining room, it might feel repetitive with the three drum shades you have in the living room, particularly the floor lamp. It’s a safe choice, but we think we you can do more. The gold and the iron mesh globe are great options…

Alex: …But we just thought about something else. While we believe it’s totally fine to have pendants and chandeliers within sight line of each other, in your house, since the dining room, foyer, and living room are in a direct line, we think that having two of the three spaces with hanging fixtures and one without might look out of balance, so…


The solution:

Courtney: Flush mount a pendant! Well, almost flush mount. You have the ceiling height for this, and we like that the pendant will be visible a focal point, yet be high enough that it doesn’t compete with the dining room chandelier, nor feel the same enough to make the living room feel like it’s missing a fixture. Take a look at this:


Next step — making sure my fam is on board and getting our order placed. It’s such a little, easy change to make, but one that I know will really make us happy. Every time we flip the switch, the house will feel that much more like home.

Look how pretty!



Madelyn was the editor of Alexandria Stylebook from November 2015 through July 2019.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Linda says:

    Where is the round pendant/half round flush lamp from?

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