Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Dining Room Dilemma

I had a realtor friend visit last week, and she said that if I only do one thing to update my house, I should replace the chandelier that came with the house. Given that I have always hated the chandelier, I thought that this was very good advice. Here is a picture of my current chandelier:

Yes, it is horrible. It looks like an insect to me. It looks terrible with my traditional dining room table and chippendale chairs (inherited, not what I would pick but beautiful in their own way). The chandelier used to bother me, but I do not even really notice it anymore. I am in the mindset that I do not want to invest in a lovely chandelier until I move into my next home. Also, the type of chandelier that would really suit my dining room table and chairs would be quite formal and probably quite expensive.

A formal dining room with a crystal chandelier, via Cote de Texas. My dining room table (120" without leaves, and there are three leaves) would be much better suited to a room this size!

Another formal dining room with a formal crystal chandelier. The chairs are slipcovered, which is a charming touch. From Willow Decor.

This is a picture from an Atlanta real estate listing. The chairs and table are very similar to mine, and the chandelier that is probably the best match stylistically is a crystal chandelier. In fact, my table and chairs were originally paired with a beautiful antique crystal chandelier, but the chandelier went to another family member, and the table and chairs came to me.

I am not even sure whether I will be able to use my dining room table in another house; it is so big (it is really supposed to be a conference room table, and came from a very grand home) and is really meant for a very large dining room. It fits in my current dining room, which is 16' x 13', but it is a bit big for the room. I do not think that I will ever live in the type of home that can properly accommodate this table. So this is another reason why I do not want to invest in a grand chandelier that works only with the table...I may not be able to use the table in a future house. Perhaps I will call up a few law firms to see if they need a conference table!

So, back to the task on hand: finding a reasonable chandelier that will work with my current table and chairs, but will be neutral enough so that a future buyer could see their own dining room table working with it.

One of my favorite stylish and reasonably priced line of lighting comes from Currey & Company Lighting. I recently visited their showroom in the Atlanta Mart, and was very impressed with the range of offerings. Here (above) is one of my favorites, a best seller for Currey and the chandelier that I was considering for my family room at one point. The retail is about $1400, but you can get it online for around $1,000. The dimensions are 36"h, 31" w. I like that this chandelier is simple and elegant. I do not see this as a chandelier that would typically be paired with a formal dining room table and chairs, and I wonder if this is the chandelier that would work with the dining room I would like to have versus the one that I actually have. But, it is subtle and unfussy, and this might make it work well when selling a home.

Here is the small version of the crystal lights chandelier in a bedroom, via Bayou Contessa. The couple had originally purchased it for their dining room, but ended up putting it in their bedroom and selecting a fabulous Julie Neill chandelier for the dining room.

Niermann Weeks makes an Italian chandelier that is similar, and I have admired it in several magazine spreads (this one is to the trade only, and is at least $2,500 if not more):

Although this room is not informal, it has very clean lines and subtle color. The simpler lines of the chandelier look great. Interior design by Caldwell-Beebe.

The airiness of this chandelier works so well with the light colored palette. Design by Anne Hepfer, via Design Smack.

Another Niermann Weeks Italian chandelier in a less formal dining room. This time, the lightness of the chandelier is a nice counterbalance to the heaviness of the table.

Most of the these dining rooms are elegant, but not super formal. The Caldwell-Beebe space is probably the most formal of the three pictures. However, the Niermann Weeks chandelier does not fit the bill of something reasonably priced that can stay with the house.

I have also seen chandeliers that seem to be in the middle...they have the simpler lines, but have embellishments that make them a little dressier. This chandelier is from Julie Neill's collection, and is called the Vanessa chandelier. I am not sure what the retail for this one is, but it is handcrafted by expert craftsmen in New Orleans.

The Isabel chandelier (also from Julie Neill) is also a good example of an elegant chandelier that is not too fussy or formal. Again, not sure of the price, but it is a high quality, hand crafted piece.

This one is my favorite: the Jenny Bubbles from Julie Neill. It has all of the elements that I love: the curves in the arms, the details in the circle, and the crystal bubbles that give it a little contemporary twist. The standard size is 40"h x 42"d, but it can be custom made to other dimensions. I am not sure how much Julie Neill's chandeliers cost, but they are all custom made in New Orleans to the client's specifications, so I am sure they are not budget chandeliers!

This is the Paris Flea Market chandelier, from Circa Lighting. It measures 33h x 32w. The finish is antique brass, which is not my favorite. The retail is $1,470.
Of course, I still love a Swedish style chandelier, but this one seems like it might be too feminine to appeal to most buyers. By Currey Lighting, retails for $2,400 but can be found for less on the internet. Size: 34"x34".

I was hoping that this post would clarify my thoughts, but it has not. Comments and suggestions would be very welcome! Which reasonably priced chandelier (<$1,500) do you think would look good in my dining room? Which style would work: ornate crystal, airy gilded, somewhere in between?


  1. I LOVE your blog! I've added you to my links, and would be forever indebted to you if you did the same for my site! In the meantime, cheers, and keep spreading the Urban Flea gospel!
    xo Katherine aka. Urban Flea :)

  2. I totally get that, blocking it out until the next run! You'll get the look you want, eventually!!

  3. I emailed Cote de Texas about this very dilemma, and she referred me to your earlier post on chandeliers, as well as doing a wonderful post herself. After seeing them on your posts, I decided that of the modern chandeliers, Julie Neils are the only ones I like. I think, since you could take it with you, you should get a good one. But if you can't, then I've been seeing things on 1st dibs, sometimes well under 1500 and old. My budget is a lot lower than $1500 so I'm saving. There are also a few dealers on Ebay specializing in chandeliers.

  4. ps. Its hard to see the one you've got now, but couldn't you sell it and put that toward a better one?

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Balsamfir - I agree, Julie Neill chandeliers are a great combination of traditional and contemporary. I like that they are custom crafted, employing the minds and talents of the people of New Orleans.

    Great idea about selling my old chandelier! Maybe someone would like it.

  6. Can you put the prices with each of your choices?

  7. Mygilttrip - good idea! I just updated with what I know.

  8. Oh dear, what a dilemma. It's hard without seeing your room in its entirety, but my instinct is to lean towards the two style of Niermann Weeks fixtures you posted. I especially liked the second one, shown with the heavy table. It is so light and airy, but might be a little lightweight in your room, with its dark walls and giant table (which sounds amazing, by the way!). I think the simpler the better (for future buyers, etc) while still keeping lots of traditional curves and some ornate detail. I wouldn't go overboard.

    You have lovely taste, as always, and I wish you were closer as I'd love to take you to lunch and pick your brain!! Plus, you have given me some ideas for my own dining room, where I have a positively hideous fixture we need to replace! That airy look, while still refined, is just what our room needs!

    Good luck. You will make the right decision and are fortunate to have such a selection in Atlanta!!

  9. i like your chandelier. it's kind of hard to tell from the photo because it's so small, but it looks like kind of ornate colonial willimsburg meets directoire (black and gold scheme). but yes, your realtor friend is probably right- something with very traditional with crystals (on the ornate side) would probably suit the room better. good luck with your search, and finding something you can live with that's also affordable- always a bit of a challenge! (you know me- i'll recommend ebay as the place to get a bargain. or better yet, type in "chandelier" on craigslist).

    and wow- a 120" table- that's big! bigger than my dining room, actually!

  10. I especially love the chandelier in the dining room posted by Cote de Texas and also the last photo of the chandelier in the post :) I adore chandeliers! Great post on chandeliers.

  11. I uploaded a larger picture of my dining room, but for some reason blogger will not expand it when you click. Maybe it was too big?

    One person asked (via e-mail) for a bigger picture, and agreed that the chandelier looks fine in the small version, but does not look good in the big version. It is very shiny brass and black.

    Another blogger suggested that I paint the room a neutral color, roll up the too small oriental rug, and change the look of the room entirely from formal and crusty to younger and a little more casual.

    I have enjoyed the suggestions, both via e-mail and comments!

  12. Oh, I would go for the Julie Neill. They are on my short list of favorite chandeliers. (Someday soon, I hope...)

  13. I love the empire chandeliers.. I'm looking for one right now, myself.. the pictures are so pretty.. and I am laughing out loud at your description of Atlanta..."house proud." I use to live there so I can testify!
    Love your site.. I've added you to my blogroll!

  14. That's such a hard call. I hated the chandelier that was in our house when we bought it. It wasn't so much the chandelier itself that I disliked, it was just the glaring shiny brass gold tone that offended my sensibilities.

    So, I took off every crystal and spray painted the entire thing hammered silver. I was trying to take the room down a few notches from the formal dining room. I also put in a sisal rug and bamboo blinds.

    I ended up LOVING the chandelier after I painted it. About a year later, I came across the owner's manual and certificate of authenticity for the chandelier. I never remembered looking at them before. Well, I spray painted a quite expensive Schonbek chandelier. Ooops! I still think it's a funny story. I definitely like it even more now. :-)

  15. Sorry that I got all wrapped up in my chandelier story. I meant to suggest that you try painting your current chandelier before purchasing a new one for your new home. I love some of those photos - the bedroom is great. Also, I really like the one with the heavy dark table and the slipcovered chairs.

  16. Thank you for all of the comments! I have since heard that it might be good just to stick with the chandelier that I have. In this tough real estate market, buyers have the upper hand, and might insist on keeping any chandelier that I might put in the room. Someone recommended that I put shades on the one I have, another person recommended painting. I thank you for all of the great suggestions!

  17. Beautiful blog!
    My style is more modern, but I am crazy about chandeliers!
    I need one!

  18. It sounds like you have already come to a decision, but if you decide to switch out your chandelier I vote for one of the Julie Neils. They are lovely!




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