Give That Awkward Room a SPACE LIFT

Does your home have one?? That awkward space that’s too small to be an office and too big to be a linen closet?? Maybe it's a poorly planned 4th bedroom, or a laundry room that never came to be, but with a little space lift you can create a whole new practical room for your home. Here are some of our favorite small space hacks to solve the mystery of the awkward corner of your home:

Make a Book Nook
A ‘book nook’ is a great use of space everyone in the family can enjoy.

Create a Toy Room
Toy rooms are a great solution for parents with a full house to maintain some organization and the kids will just love a place to call their own.

Doggy Den
There’s certainly one family member in the house that would appreciate this one!

A Little Lounge Action
A new place to veg-out is always an excellent idea.

A Shoe Closet
Ladies… No dream home is complete without a dream closet, am I right??

A Study Space
Ace your ‘awkward space’ design assignment by making a study nook.

Oh The Ceilings We've Seen!

When homeowners look for a project to refresh their space, they often forget to simply look up.

A beautifully finished ceiling can easily be the defining detail in a gorgeous space that amplifies the whole look. From bold colors, to crown molding, here are some of the best ceilings we've seen to inspire your next renovation project!






Exterior Lighting Like a Pro

Blog 3.jpg

Lighting is a game changer in bringing life back to your landscaping. Not only does it show off the exterior/garden features of your property, but it’s practically movie lighting for your home; not to mention, a necessary safety & security feature.

Generally, exterior lighting can be layered across a landscape in 3 categories, which makes it easier to breakdown a plan of action:

Overall lighting - Illuminates an entire space.

Task lighting - Typically used for areas such as stairs and walkways.

Accent lighting - Draws attention to certain areas of the space.

Here’s a little trick to determine how much light a space requires: multiply the square footage of the area you want to light by 1.5 to get a rough estimate of the total wattage required; an easy example is that 100 square feet of space would require roughly 150 watts.

The mood is all about lighting, so remember to enrich your lounge & entertaining space with a soft, relaxing glow, while areas like the house and landscaping can go for something more bold. To ensure you’re placing them right the first time, test your angles and take a look from every direction, including from inside your home.

Color temperature is a factor to consider as well. You'll want to check the box to see where they range on a scale of 1800 kelvins, which is more red; to 7500 K, which is blue/white. From sidewalks and entryways, to driveways & patios... here are some gorgeous examples of exterior lighting that will have you inspired…

*(These photos are the stunning works of

Blog 5.jpg
Blog 4.jpg
Blog 6.jpg
Blog 2.jpg
Blog 1.jpg

Bring on the Flavors of Fall

A turn of seasons isn’t just about the weather; it’s an immersive wave of new textures, colors, scents & flavors. One of the best way to truly break into the season is through our senses, and the fall flavors that are about to hit the kitchen these next few weeks have us feeling equal parts sweet & spicy! So as the weather gets a little cooler and the food gets a little cozier, here are some dishes to warm the soul with the flavors of fall.



I love protein pancakes… it’s like my nutritious breakfast collided with a dash of ‘treat yo’ self’ and created the sinfully delicious result that is protein pancakes. This recipe is heavy with flavor and power-packed with energy to get you through the day.
To make: you’ll first need to pick a box of your favorite protein powder pancake mix and make some good old fashioned hot cakes.
This recipe is all about the cinnamon apple peanut butter sauce, which is -literally- the icing on the cake here, and for that you’ll need:
1.5 cups apple butter.
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract.
pinch of fine grain sea salt.
2 tsp pure maple syrup or honey.
*Mix these ingredients in portions of your tasting and blend. Be aware, the measure of these collective ingredients will effect thickness and texture, so fave fun & get experimental!

PARTY PIES; a mini twist on a classic favorite!


These mini’s will surely have guests swarming around the party platter. This pumpkin pie recipe tops your classic, seasonal favorite with extra sweet coconut cool whip, crumbled granola and raw pumpkin seeds for the perfect grab & go (grown up) party snack!



This is not your grandmothers casserole! Our cran-apple french toast casserole is an excellent dish to prepare the night before a Sunday brunch that will surely wow your family and friends, so lets jump right in!
First you’ll need: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup of melted butter, 3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 3 tart apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced), 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, 1 loaf of french bread, 6 large eggs, 1.5 cups of dairy or plant based milk, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
To make: Combine brown sugar, butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

  • Add apples and cranberries, toss until coated

  • Spread apple mixture evenly over bottom of baking dish.

  • Arrange bread on top.

  • Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon until well blended.

  • Pour mixture over bread, soaking bread completely.

    • *If you like to live dangerously - put a few dollops of cream cheese throughout!

  • Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.

  • Bake, covered with aluminum foil, at 375 degrees oven for 40 minutes.

  • Remove from oven, let stand 5 minutes & serve warm.

  • Enjoy! :)

& Taa-daa! This is one recipe your guests wont want to leave without!



I kinda love how when the weather gets cooler, the meals get heartier; and there’s nothing that warms you to the bone like a good homemade soup, am I right?! This recipe blends butternut squash with jalapenos, garlic & nutmeg for signature flavor you’ll return to again and again.
You’ll need: 1 large butternut squash, halved, 1 medium white onion, 2 jalapenos, 1 shallot, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth), 1 (15 oz.) can full-fat coconut milk, 4 leaves fresh sage, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
To make: First, preheat the oven to 400º and prepare a baking sheet by wiping it with olive oil.

  • Next, cut a butternut squash in half hot dog style. remove seeds and place on pan.

  • Bake squash for 30 minutes, remove from oven and add garlic, onion, and jalapeno to the pan, drizzle with olive oil and bake for another 30 minutes.

  • Remove from oven, scoop out squash and place it in a large pot with all of the other ingredients from the baking sheet.

  • Next, add chicken or vegetable broth, coconut milk, fresh sage, nutmeg, and apple cider vinegar to the pot. Use an emulsifier to blend all of the ingredients together.*

  • Bring soup to a boil and then turn heat to low. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add some raw zoodles (zucchini noodles) if you’d like a little more substance.

  • Enjoy!



Is it just me, or does cinnamon taste so much better in autumn? I realize it’s in nearly every one of these recipes, but can you think of a better accent to pumpkin pie, pancakes AND soup?! It’s the mighty little do-it-all spice that brings out the best in your fall dishes. To make this cinnamon plum pie, you’ll need: mini unbaked pie crusts, 2 lbs plums, 1⁄2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon butter
To make: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  • Wash plums, do not peel.

  • Cut plums in half remove pit, then into quarters.

  • Arrange plums in the pie crusts.

  • Mix together the dry ingredients, then sprinkle over the plums.

  • Dot with the butter.

  • Place top crust over plums, trim crust edges with enough to turn under, then crimp crust edge.

  • Cut 1" slits into the top of the pies.

  • Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, reduce heat to 325 degrees, bake 25 minutes longer or until plums are tender.

  • Cool, serve warm or cold.

  • Enjoy! :)

It's Finally Fall

We have arrived! It’s finally fall, y’all, and as the heat winds down and the days get shorter, we’re celebrating the soul of the season with some of our favorite DIY projects (by some of our favorite DIY design blogs) to cozy-up your home with that sweet, rustic autumn energy.



This pumpkin checkerboard is a perfect way to keep the fun in fall. It’s a quick & easy project that’s great for a front porch side table, or to simply pass the time in the crisp outdoor afternoons. Take a square wood board and create a checkered pattern using painters tape. Paint the bare spaces with burnt orange paint and use white & orange mini pumpkins as checkers. Fall fun for 2 players, please!
(Photo by Brian Woodcock, Project by



Sometimes less is more, and this minimal ‘ring wreath’ design is the perfect way to bring your favorite fall blooms right to your front door. Find a wood or metal ring in your local craft shop and grab a handful of your favorite faux autumn flowers. Using a glue gun or craft wire, attach the flowers to half of the ring and hang on a nail (as shown), or use a hemp rope to hang for an added rustic touch.
(Photo & Project by


Magnolia Pumpkin.jpg

It’s no secret, pumpkins wear the crown this season, and this time - it’s a flower crown! This elegant take on a pumpkin project looks beautiful as a centerpiece or living room decor alike. Stop by your local pumpkin patch or craft store for a pumpkin of your choice, faux magnolia leaves and blooms, and a glue gun. Take a metallic pen to write out your favorite fall message or keep it simple and let the flowers do the talking.
(Photo & Project by


Pumpkin Barrel.png

How adorable is this pumpkin barrel?! Swap out the old fruit basket with this DIY pumpkin project that your guests will love. Hollow out your pumpkin and fill three quarters with Poly-Fil. Then use a hot glue gun to secure burlap around the top opening and outside. Add a few studs for a perfectly farmhouse-chic finish!
(Photo by Brian Woodcock, Project by


Mason Jars.png

These glowing mason jars are a great way to keep your space feeling cozy as the weather gets cooler. Grab some mason jars and faux fall leaves from your local craft store. Use a sponge brush to coat the outside of the jars with glue and press the leaves onto the outside. Apply your finishing touch of hay bail rope or braided straw to the top and pop a flickering faux tea light candle in there for a glow that will go strong all season long.
(Photo & Project by

A Grand Entrance; update your entryway to wow your guests

Here at Laura Lee Designs we just love all things lights: The accent of a glowing wall sconce, the defining fixture over a grand dining room table, even the enchanting glimmer that garden lighting brings to an outdoor space; but nothing truly makes our heart race with interior design daydreams like a good, bold statement piece at the entryway.

An extra large, show-stopping, overwhelming-in-all-the-right-ways chandelier is an excellent fix for reviving the wow factor at the entrance of the home, right on arrival. Sometimes, clients wish to update their space or add a dramatic element to the room but don’t know where to begin. Our advice? Nothing dresses a room like the lighting, after all - it’s the jewelry of the home.

Get inspired by some of our past lighting projects that have leveled-up the layout of the entryway, simply by the grace of their presence:

Fixture 008.jpg
Custom C36.jpg

Laura's Go-To Refreshing Salad

It’s nearly always summer here in Los Angeles, that means it gets HOT. This simple recipe is a great cool down! The sweetness of this salad is like a Popsicle without the guilt! ( though I usually end up eating a Popsicle too shhh). It’s always a hit with my friends during our summer get together and kids like it too because it’s sweet! Let get down to business-


What you’ll need:

- Radicchio,

- arugula,

-2 fresh peaches or nectarines ,

-crumbled feta cheese

-1/4 cup red wine vinegar

-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-1 teaspoon honey

-1/2 cup olive oil

-2 -3 teaspoons salt


Lets Get Cooking!:

1. Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice , salt to taste and honey in a small bowl Set aside .

2. Slice peaches or nectarines

3. Toss radicchio and arugula

4. Layer lettuce ,  fruit and cheese ..

toss with dressing .. and serve

Try serving the salad with a sparkling rosé and for dessert finishing off with some caramelized peaches (use any leftover peaches from the salad). I hope you enjoy!


Essential Measurement Tips: A Guide To Finding The Proper Lighting Dimensions For Your Home

If you’ve ever been confused about the proper way to determine the dimensions for a chandelier in your home, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, this is a topic that comes up regularly with our customers here at Laura Lee Designs.

Fortunately, we’re here to help! We’ve outlined a few tips that we’ve found to be extremely helpful to our customers.  

The Basics


There are two important measurements to figure out before you go about looking for a chandelier. The first is to find the chandelier width that will compliment your room and the second is to determine the proper chandelier height for your ceiling.

Chandelier Width

In order to determine the width of a chandelier, you’ll need to first find the height and width of the room. You will then add the width and the height of the room together. For example if your room is 10’ x 20’, you will add those two numbers together (10 + 20 = 30). Based off this calculation, a chandelier with a 30” diameter will be the best fit.

Chandelier Height

Know your ceiling height! In order to determine the height of a chandelier, you’ll need to measure from the point where you are looking to hang the fixture (also referred to as the “point of installation) to the floor. You’ll then take that measurement and multiply it by 3”. For example, if you have a 10 foot ceiling and you multiply that by 3”, you will get 30 — which means that you are looking for a fixture with a 30” height. If you’re walking under the chandelier, typically the fixture should be 7ft off the floor. If its going over a table generally it should be 3ft above the table.

Custom Metro.JPG

A Second Opinion

There is a second way that some individuals use to determine the proper chandelier sizes. This option calculates the chandelier size based solely on the width of the room.

For this calculation, you’ll need to take the width of the room and figure in a 2” proportion for every foot. For example, if you have a 12-foot-wide room, your calculation would take that number and multiply it by 2”—giving you a suggested chandelier size of 24”.

This calculation tends to be a little less rigid and allows you to approximate the diameter by a few inches.



First impressions are everything. And you can really set the tone in your house with a beautifully decorated foyer. Chandeliers make a perfect fit for your homes when there are at least 3 feet of space available.

To begin, you’ll need to add the length and the width of your space together (exactly how we outlined in The Basics section above). As a reminder, if your room is 16’ by 14’, you will add those two numbers together. You will then take that number (in this case 30) and use that as the base diameter (now represented in inches, thus giving you 30”) for your fixture.

Please keep in mind that other factors such as the height of the ceiling may influence the proper size. 

Dining Tables


There are some who recommend that the fixture be at least one foot shorter than the length of the table, but we recommend (just to be safe) that you select a chandelier equal to one-half the width of the table. Obviously, the general appearance of the chandelier needs to be taken into account, but this rule will at least help you narrow down your search as you look at different lighting fixtures.

But how low should a chandelier be hung over a dining table?

As a general rule, there should be 30" - 36″ between the bottom of the chandelier and the top of the table. The key thing to keep in mind here is that the chandelier should provide light for the table, but not at the cost of blocking anyone’s line of sight when they are sitting at a table.



If you are looking to put chandelier or pendant over a bathtub, we suggest measuring the height from the ceiling to floor and then measuring the space between the top of the tub and the bottom of the fixture.

There should be at least 7-8 feet of clearance for your fixture. If you bathroom is small and doesn’t fit this standard, we highly recommend that you consider using a smaller fixture.

Of course, hanging a fixture directly over a tub is just one way to decorate your bathroom.

In fact, the most common set up for a bathroom is to install your fixture at least 3 feet away from your tub.



Our general rule of thumb: sconces should be placed on a wall 60″ from the floor. If the fixtures can be viewed from above (say, a stairway or under a balcony), perhaps cover the top with a shade or diffuser to avoid any glaring problems.

MAJOR TIP: Bring Pictures


It might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be amazed how many times customers forget to bring photos when they come in to visit us in the showroom or when they send an email. Not only does your designer get a better idea of the space you are working with, but it can also help your designer identify potential problems that might come up in the future.

Just make sure that you bring a set of photos that show the best perspective on the size of the room you’re concentrating on. We hope that helps you start your journey to finding the perfect fixture to bring out the very best of your home.

If you have any additional questions about our fixtures in relation to your project, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or give us a call at 818-842-5300.

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. 

blacksmith forging wrought iron.jpg

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.

Las Vegas Great Room with Custom Double Tier Chandelier.jpg

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.


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. 

LED Bulbs: A Quick Overview

LEDs are becoming an increasingly popular choice with homeowners looking to lessen their environmental impact and decrease their utility bill. With recent advancements in their design, they are quickly becoming the go-to bulb for chandeliers, sconces, and other decorative lighting.

A Bit of History

LED technology traces its beginnings back to the turn of the 20th century, when British inventor H. J. Round discovered the phenomenon of electroluminescence, where a material produces light after an electrical current is run through it. For much of the 20th century, LEDs remained expensive and stayed mostly within the spheres of industry and science. It wasn't until 1994 that the bulb became affordable for commercial use.

Clear LED Candelabra Bulb

Clear LED Candelabra Bulb

Bulb Basics

LEDs use an electrical current that is passed through semiconductor material, illuminating small diodes
called LEDs. These bulbs stay cool to the touch by absorbing the heat into a heat sink. This makes LED bulbs the perfect choice if you are looking to use a natural beeswax candle sleeve but require a brighter light. The virtually heatless LED bulb will not melt the wax, even at a 40 watt equivalent brightness.

While watt equivalencies can be helpful in determining the level of brightness you will need, the best way to ensure you are getting the right light for your room is to look at the lumens. Below is a guide that can help in the decision making process.

Lumens to Wattage Guide.jpg

LED bulbs are generally compatible with your existing fixtures. When in doubt we suggest calling the manufacturer to be sure. At Laura Lee Designs, all of our fixtures are LED compatible and we encourage customers to take advantage of this smart, energy-saving bulb choice whenever possible.

We often get the question, "are LED bulbs dimmable?" and the answer is yes. However, a special dimmer is required. This can be purchased easily from your local hardware store and installed by your electrician.

Aesthetics of LED

You may recall earlier versions of LED bulbs as clunky and unappealing. We are happy to report that significant advancements have been made in their design. Whether you want to replace candelabra style bulbs for your chandelier or freshen up your fixture with Edison bulbs, there is now an LED option available. Inquire with us while ordering and we will be happy to guide you through the selection process.

Our Jennifer Chandelier with frosted LED candelabra bulbs.

Our Jennifer Chandelier with frosted LED candelabra bulbs.

Cost: The Bottom Line

While the price point for these bulbs is often higher than their incandescent and CFL counterparts, they can last 20 years or more, making them a more cost effective choice in the long run. Because they emit little to no heat, you may find your cooling bill reduced, depending on the amount of lights in your home. For larger fixtures with many lights, these costs can add up quickly. 

LED Nostalgic Style Bulb

LED Nostalgic Style Bulb

Outdoor Lighting Guide

With summer here and more time spent outdoors, you may find yourself dreaming of updates to your outside living area. Make the most of the season after sunset with some the following lighting tips and guidelines.

Image courtesy of Stan Topol and Associates

Image courtesy of Stan Topol and Associates

Mind The View

Plan your lighting to complement your views, not obstruct them. Spend some time onsite at different points in the day before finalizing your lighting. This will give you valuable clues regarding placement, size, and wattage.

This patio, part of a larger project underway at a private club in North Carolina, makes use of Laura Lee Designs custom post lanterns. They are installed at the perfect height to allow the landscape to shine by day, then create a soft, relaxing ambiance after sunset. Design by Stan Topol and Associates.

Laura Lee Designs lanterns 

Laura Lee Designs lanterns 

Check The UL Rating

The UL rating will indicate if your fixture can be hung in the elements. Dry rated lights are suitable for indoors while damp and wet rated lights are generally the best and often only option for outdoor fixtures. 

In some cases, fixtures rated dry can be customized to withstand the elements by adding adding glass or sealing the top of the light. Not sure how your chosen fixture will stand up to the elements? Give us a call, we would be happy to walk you through the selection process!

Image courtsey of Thomas Michna

Image courtsey of Thomas Michna

Experiment with Scale

While small, jewel-like lights can look lovely flanking the garage or entry, sometimes is pays to go big! Perhaps a large pendant or wall lantern is what your home needs to create dramatic curb appeal.

This design project by Thomas Michna makes use of scale through using a custom-made wall lantern with electrified candles; an unexpected touch in an exterior fixture.






Lantern installed at a Malibu beach home

Lantern installed at a Malibu beach home

A Word About Oceanside Lighting

While living on the beach can be wonderful, salt water can do damage to metal elements in your home. If your home or project is in close proximity to the ocean, we highly recommend and option called galvanizing. This involves coating the entire fixture with a rust resistant treatment and will allow you years of additional enjoyment.

The best thing about galvanizing? Electing this treatment will not affect the final finish of the fixture., meaning you can take advantage of any of our 11 hand painted finishes.

Why Lighting is the 'Jewelry' of the Home

Originally published on

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.


Lighting Essentials: Details to Know When Choosing Decorative Lighting

A well lit room enhances the mood of its occupants and showcases its design. Because of this, lighting is an essential part of any building or renovation project. Decorative lighting specifically contributes to the room by the light it gives off and also through its actual form. Read on for tips on choosing the right lighting for your home.

Photos: The Studio of Thomas Michna

Photos: The Studio of Thomas Michna

Time Frame

Deadlines have a way of creeping up on all of us! A bit of preparation, however, goes a long way in making your project run as smoothly as possible. A major factor to consider in regards to lighting is lead time. Will you be ordering custom or hand crafted fixtures?  Each manufacturer is different, but at Laura Lee Designs we typically ship within 8 weeks of order placement for standard fixtures and 10 weeks for custom fixtures.


If your chandelier will be hung over a dining table, a great general guideline is to set the diameter at 1/2 to 2/3 the width of the table. We suggest leaving 30” – 36” between the bottom of the fixture and the table. 

If your chandelier will be the focal point of the room, try using this quick equation to calculate the ideal fixture size: Add your room dimensions together use the sum in inches to dictate the diameter of the light. For example, an 18’ x 20’ room will equal 38. The sum (in this case 38) should be the approximate diameter of your fixture. Keep in mind that people will be walking under your lighting, so you will want the bottom of the fixture to be at least 7' from the floor.

Extra large outdoor entry lantern hung flush with the doorway.

Extra large outdoor entry lantern hung flush with the doorway.

In regards to sconces, there are 2 measurements to consider. The first is the projection of the fixture, meaning how far it extends from the wall. Narrow passages and smaller spaces might require a sconce with a slimmer profile, whereas spaces with light foot traffic could accommodate a larger projection. Our second suggestion is to consider the sconces distance from the floor. 60” is a good general guideline, but again, this can vary from room to room. Try using a cardboard placeholder before installing the sconce to ensure it is placed at your ideal height.

One service we offer to ensure your fixture is exactly what you envision is CAD drawing. These technical computer renderings are a great way to get a sense of the size and profile of the fixture, especially if you are electing to go the custom route. They also provide electricians, designers, and builders with information that will make the installation process a little more worry free.

Bulbs & Wattage

Will your fixtures provide task lighting or ambiance lighting? Appropriate bulbs can make a vast difference depending on your fixture’s intended use.

Will your kitchen include downlights? Will your entry chandelier be accompanied by sconces to add an extra wash of light to the space? If so, soft, low wattage candelabra bulbs or warm Edison-style bulbs could work perfectly.

Will your fixture be installed in an expansive space or do double duty as task lighting? Perhaps a higher wattage bulb would suit best.

Is environmental sustainability and the cost of your electric bill a concern? LED would be an excellent choice. Today’s LED bulbs come in a range of options and so closely resemble incandescent that it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference!


Bringing In a Professional

Some projects can be too complex to untangle on our own. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your lighting design dilemma or worried about how your decorative lighting will interact with other lighting elements in your home, we suggest bringing a professional on board to help. Interior designers know how to make the best use of light, helping you maximize your enjoyment of your home. Houzz is a great starting place when searching for a home design professional. Here at Laura Lee Designs, we also offer lighting design services, including in-home consultations in the Southern California area. We would love to help you with your next project! 

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.  




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 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.





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. 

A Bright Moment: Home Tour

By Alyson Baumach 

When a lighting designer becomes the owner of a Victorian inspiration near Carbondale, she illuminates the home with a blend of European sophistication and casual charm.

All it took was one visit. She was instantly enamored. The sweeping views from Independence Pass to the Flattops. The end-of-the-road privacy. The majestic Victorian-inspired estate, about 30 miles outside of Aspen, seemed almost tailor-made for her large extended family. 

"The bones were fantastic," remembers Laura Lee DiPietro, whose namesake firm Laura Lee Designs has supplied custom hand-made lighting to some of the nation's most beautiful homes since 1991. "The scale was perfect for entertaining family and friends. We could easily fit 14 to 16 people in the house at one time and be comfortable. Everything about it -- from the top-of-the-hill setting to the views -- struck my fancy. I live in L.A., and I didn't want to have an address in Aspen. I wanted something completely rural and pastoral." 

Inspired by the panoramas and the ever-present views of Mt. Sopris, DiPietro and her husband, Dario, purchased the 9,132-square-foot house on the hill and immediately embarked on a globally inspired refresh. Because the scope of the remodeling project was so large, the DiPietros worked in stages. Ironically, their first order of business was not the lighting, and not even the interiors. Rather, they turned their focus to the home's exterior, updating the siding, roof and decks. Once inside, they tackled the main living areas first. 

"There was wallpaper everywhere," DiPietro recalls. "The whole house was rendered in this shocking pink. We removed the wallpaper in many rooms, along with the carpets. I chose to leave the wallpaper in some rooms, like the white canopy bedroom, for example. The wallpaper gave it a romantic feel. For the rest, I just worked around it. We ended up liking it!"

A kitchen makeover was an "absolute must," says DiPietro, who added Viking appliances and new cabinetry that blended with the existing cabinetry. Naturally, she eventually changed out the lighting in the entire house, including a unique antique antler chandelier in the foyer and a whimsical chandelier in the master bedroom with curving wrought iron arms. 

"Being a lighting designer, I chose lights that I thought would fit the house best," she says of her design process, which often unfolds organically. "I added a few antique fixtures befitting the house and then the rest of the house is filled with our line of lighting from Laura Lee Designs. I used quite a few of our hand-blown Italian fixtures that we design in Venice, Italy in the living room to give the space a warm glow. All of the other lighting in the house was carefully chosen, depending on size and the style of the room. When working on design projects and Laura Lee Designs has been specified, it is essential that there is a flow with style and finishes to complete any room. Lighting is an essential component to any successful design project."

Taking cues from old European country houses, DiPietro thoughtfully layered art, rugs and Italian antiques from estate sales with her own lighting and over-sized furniture to give it a worn-in "comfortable" feeling without sacrificing refinement. DiPietro, who spends a lot of time in London and finds aesthetic inspiration through her travels, "pulled items together from everywhere," she says. The result is an eclectic collection of old and new, an evolving and thoughtfully pieced-together assemblage, curated over the DiPietros' five-year Colorado residency. The effect also subtly pays tribute to the Victorian style, which often mixed interpretations and revivals of historic styles with Middle Eastern and Asian influences.

"I wanted each room to have a look of permanence, a depth of feeling," says DiPietro. "I tried to create rooms that are timeless yet livable, grand yet friendly. I believe decorating is creating an interior that appears 'undecorated.' Layering gives you that lived-in forever feeling."

The lived-in feeling applies to the open floor plan. Designed for entertaining, the large kitchen opens to grand public spaces featuring views of the Elk Range through the solarium windonws. There's also a theater for viewing movies together on the big screen, complete with wet bar and wine room. The sumptuous en suite bedrooms each have their own style. The master suite, with its tufted headboard, fireplace and ornate chandelier, oozes romance. The kids' bedroom has a touch of whimsy. The room with a white canopy bed offers both romance and sex appeal with its unexpected chintz-meets-leopard-print ambiance. 

"There is this feeling of a grand country house with room for guest to read or relax in privacy, and then we can all come together for meals," says DiPietro. "Everyone has his or her own space. It could almost be a bed and breakfast."

"It's a rural lifestyle, with views and privacy that can't be beat," she says. "You have this feeling of being away from the madding crowd, yet the propertry is just 45 minutes from the valley floor, all of the restaurants and shops in Aspen and several ski areas."

For DiPietro, it's the quiet, rural setting that is most awe inspiring. Her favorite moments in the Victorian retreat are often captured from her window: the sight of a deer meandering along the hillside or a rabbit bouncing through the shrubs. The beauty of nature is omnipresent. One visit, and you'll see.

Originally published in SOURCEBOOK

Caring for Your Wrought Iron Fixtures

Exterior Post Lanterns.JPG

Wrought iron is a favorite material for exterior lighting, interior lighting and decorative elements. When cared for properly, this durable material can last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. Below are some simple tips on upkeep for your iron fixtures. By following these guidelines, you will enjoy your fixtures for generations.

Gently clean the fixture. Wipe the fixture down with some gentle, gentle cleaner and water using a cloth. After the fixture is clean of debris, make sure you dry it complete to avoid rusting. Removing any dust or debris will allow you to inspect and potential wear and tear. It is important to make sure your light is off and the bulb is removed before beginning the process. 

Inspect the fixture for rust or wear and tear. Indoor fixtures can generally be restored to good as new with a simple cleaning but outdoor fixtures often need a little more TLC. Take a close look at your fixture. If you see areas were the finish has been compromised, you may need to do a quick touch up.

Touch up the fixture.  Begin by removing any stubborn debris loose finish gently with a brush. After the area you want to touch up is smooth and dirt free, give it a light coat of finish. We can provide touch up finish to any of our fixtures. Just give us a call or send an email and we will be happy to accommodate you. 

A word about coastal climates. Iron's worst enemy is moisture. If you plan on installing your fixture in areas with an excessive amount of moisture or in coastal areas, we suggest opting for a marine coat when purchasing your fixture. This coat, applied underneath the finish, will offer added protection to your fixture for years to come. 

Did you know? Our fixtures undergo an 8 step finishing process, hand applied by expert craftsmen. This not only ensures a richness and depth, but also protection to the iron itself.