The Anatomy of an Iron Chandelier

Wrought Iron: The Basics

The iron is where is starts, but how different is the material and process than other metals? Iron differs from materials such as steel and brass in appearance and strength. Iron’s soft, malleable quality make it an excellent choice for rustic, old world style decorative lighting.

Wrought iron differs from cast iron in both process and appearance. Wrought iron, the material of blacksmiths, is a purer version of the metal and therefore is more easily worked through the hand-forging process. Cast iron is an alloy comprised of iron and other elements. It is pourable and therefore works well in molded forms. While both forms of iron offer unique and beautiful qualities, at Laura Lee Designs we specialize in hand-forged wrought iron fixtures. 

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A Guide to Chandelier Terminology

Canopy – The canopy is a part of the chandelier that connects the fixture itself to the hanging chain.

Chain – Chain can be used both as a design element and to attach the chandelier to the ceiling plate. We offer several types of chain depending on the aesthetic of the fixture.

Ceiling Plate – The ceiling plate affixes the light to the ceiling and contains the junction box.

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Flush Mount – This term is used for a fixture that affixes directly to the ceiling with no chain dropping the chandelier in height.

Bobeche – A dish, commonly made or wrought iron or in some cases crystal, that holds the candle sleeve.

Candle Sleeves – Candle sleeves come in different widths and sizes depending on the style of chandelier. While it is popular to use beeswax or resin sleeves that mimic actual candles, some clients elect to use sleeves painted the same color as the rest of the fixture. This helps create a streamlined, contemporary look.

Socket – Sockets generally come in two sizes, candelabra or medium base. The size of the socket will determine the type of bulb able to be used.

Bulb/Lamp – Selecting the right bulb for your chandelier depends to the amount of light you desire, the wattage capacity of your fixture, and the overall aesthetic you are trying to achieve. We use a silicone dipped candelabra-base bulb with many of our fixtures to mimic candle light. Recently, however, a variety of styles and types have become increasing popular. Assess your needs before determining of bulbs such as LEDs, nostalgic style, or frosted glass are right for your chandelier.

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UL Rating - Underwriters Laboratory, or UL, is an independent safety certification organization that sets standard requirements for lighting. Dry rated fixtures are appropriate for indoor settings such as living rooms, bathrooms, or bedrooms. Damp rated fixtures are suitable for locations that receive some moisture, such as patios and building exteriors. These fixtures will often make use of metal or glass to encase and protect the wiring. We offer a selection of both dry and damp rated fixtures. 


Why Lighting is the 'Jewelry' of the Home

Originally published on www.previewsinsideout.com

Laura Lee Designs Iron Lighting

Step into a beautifully designed luxury home, and your eyes often need a few moments to adjust to the décor’s many layers. A textured wall here. Some intricately carved moldings there. And the perfect blend of eclectic pieces that create a meticulously, distinctively, elegant whole.

And then there’s the “jewelry”—that finishing detail that gives the room its sparkle. For many people, not the least of which is Los Angeles-based lighting designer Laura Lee DiPietro of Laura Lee Designs, Inc., that’s the decorative lighting.

I think of it as the jewelry of architecture,” said DiPietro, whose namesake company has earned a reputation for lighting design that features European flair and character mixed with modern refinement. “The principal role of jewelry is to ornament and catch the eye; modern lighting is no different.”

Previews Inside Out had a chance to talk to DiPietro this week, and she told us how her handmade lighting collections can elevate a home’s presentation, gave us tips for choosing the best fixtures for a space, and informed us about why the right lighting is so crucial when selling a home. 

Jasmine Sconces in a French Provincial style sun room.

Jasmine Sconces in a French Provincial style sun room.

Previews Inside Out First: how did you first get into lighting design?

Laura Lee DiPietro I started my lighting business in 1991, first doing art shows. Then I was introduced to the High Point Market furniture show in North Carolina, which led me to launch my career in the lighting business. I am a graduate of the Art Institute in Chicago and then went on to the Inchbald School of Design in London for interior design.

Previews Inside Out What’s your philosophy on lighting, in general?

Laura Lee DiPietro Like jewelry, the style and design of decorative lighting sends many messages about a project. For instance, a crystal chandelier or iron chandelier with crystal adornment is traditional, formal, and elegant. A deer antler chandelier is themed, semi-formal, and whimsical, and a glass and iron Italian chandelier and sconces are modern, formal, and hip. When it comes to making an architectural statement, lighting is to architecture as jewelry is to dress—it stands out and begs to be looked at first. But, like jewelry, there are design concepts that work best. 

Previews Inside Out What’s the secret to finding the right lighting for a space?

Laura Lee DiPietro A good rule of thumb for the correct location of decorative lighting is often driven by aesthetic expectations. It helps to use a traditional lighting plan as a starting point. Assume there will be a chandelier in the entry and over the dining room table, pendant lights over the breakfast table and kitchen island, sconces in hallways, and lamps in bedrooms. While it is acceptable to design a dining room without a chandelier, it gives the space a different feeling. The eye will be forced to seek other visual interest, such as an architectural detail, artwork, stemware, or table decorations. 

Previews Inside Out What’s the one mistake that you often see affluent homeowners make when it comes to lighting?

Laura Lee DiPietro Common mistakes that homeowners make involving decorative lighting include placing fixtures in inappropriate locations—often conflicting with other design elements in the room—or simply using too many or too few sources. Always remember that the key to good design is restraint! 

Previews Inside Out When you’re designing a space, do you typically start with lighting and design around that, or is every project different?

Laura Lee DiPietro When starting a project, I always take the architecture into consideration. Light is the most important factor in the appreciation and understanding of architecture; the relationship between light and architecture being grounded in the principles of physics, it is about energy and matter. The quality of lighting in a space defines its character and creates impressions.

I believe lighting has an essential effect on the aesthetics of any room, affecting our perceptions of ourselves, our surroundings, and works of art in the space. It can also affect our moods and senses of well being. The right amount of lighting can make an ordinary space seem almost magical. 

Single Tier Adonis Chandelier.

Single Tier Adonis Chandelier.

Previews Inside Out What techniques do you use when selecting lighting for a particular room?

Laura Lee DiPietro Choosing lighting for a room requires a balance of form and function. Lighting, as we know, is a great way to highlight features in a room; whether it is a painting, an antique, or a unique feature in your space, using lighting in the right way can add a finished and dramatic look to any room.

In a living room, lighting should be warm and able to be dimmed; there should be no brilliant points and instead the distribution of light should reveal textures, color, and balance the dark and clear areas. This atmosphere creates a comfortable impression that helps us to relax and enjoy the moment.  

Siena Lantern

Siena Lantern

Previews Inside Out What’s your advice for buying an antique chandelier or lighting fixture?

Laura Lee DiPietro Know the dealer, meaning: do your research. For example, if you are buying an Italian Murano chandelier, you want to make sure it is authentic. It’s important to have it appraised and authenticated by an expert.

Previews Inside Out In your opinion, how important is lighting when it comes to selling a home?

Laura Lee DiPietro Lighting is a key element when selling a home and should not be overlooked. The right light not only enhances the rooms’ features but can also make a room feel larger, more modern, elegant, and, ultimately, more inviting to potential buyers.

 

5 Ways to Achieve a Mediterranean Look

Mediterranean style is a perennial favorite in design and architecture and it's easy to see why. Read on for tips to achieve this particular brand of casual elegance. 


Tile details

Originally hailing from countries like Spain and Portugal, tile work is a hallmark of this design. This colorful detail can lend a unique and historic sensibility to any interior. Tiled fireplaces, back splashes, windowsills and staircases are just some of the ways Mediterranean patterned tiles can be used in the home. This element specifically is widespread in Spanish Revival homes throughout Southern California and the American West.

 

Color Palette

Think sea, sky and rich earth! Taking color cues from nature is a great way to give your home an authentically Mediterranean feel. Rich hues of tans or creamy beige are a wonderful start. Try pairing these neutral tones with pops of red, lavender or yellow for a livelier feel.  

 

Photo:  Houzz.com

Photo: Houzz.com

Decorative Wrought Iron Lighting and Accents

We would be amiss not to include wrought iron on this list! Iron chandeliers are often the focal point of a Mediterranean style room and candle style wall sconces offer the perfect accents. Wrought iron window grilles and balcony railings are a great way to bring the feeling of the Mediterranean to the exterior.

 

Photo: James Glover

Photo: James Glover

Wall Texture

Stucco exterior walls are essential for creating a Mediterranean feel. Mottling and color are two ways to play with either a more old-world or contemporary look. There are a world of possibilities out there and tons of professionals to help you get the job done! One of our favorite resources is Houzz.com. The site makes it easy to find highly-rated professionals in any area.

Indoors, it’s all about plaster! Mixing texture with the right colors will absolutely transform the room into Mediterranean style retreat. Wall treatments are one of the best places in the home to get creative.

 

Photo:  Houzz.com

Photo: Houzz.com

Terracotta

Terracotta roofing is one of the first things that come to mind when envisioning a classic, Mediterranean style home. This Spanish Revival style home in Carmel, California is a great example of this particular type of roofing. While this is certainly one of the most quintessential parts of the design, the look can also be achieved by bring terracotta indoors through flooring. Try the tile in a kitchen or entryway to get that earthy, rustic look.