The One Piece That Can Change a Whole Room

An old, dear friend asked me for some help picking out lighting fixtures for her apartment recently, and as we went through long lists of options, it occurred to me that one thing most non-designers don't often filter for until they're ready to buy is size. Sure, the shape and finishes are everything, but how BIG is that sucker you'd like to dangle in the middle of your bed/living/dining room? Is it big enough to make the statement you want it to make?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I say go big or go home. A pet peeve of mine is the undersized pendant fixture—in fact, it's the number-one thing I complain about when looking at homes for sale on Redfin or House Hunters or whatever. "Whyyyyyyy did they choose that dinky little fixture? It looks like dollhouse lighting!" I'll shout at my screen.

An oversized pendant or chandelier, on the other hand, can make such a HUGE difference and really elevate a room. Need proof? Here are five of the most epic oversized-lighting moments I've seen recently that prove an oversized pendant is EVERYTHING. 

1. The Room-Balancing Globe

   Credit: Design by  Tamara Honey ; image via Rue magazine


Credit: Design by Tamara Honey; image via Rue magazine

What's a poor girl with soaring ceilings to do? If you're designer Tamara Honey, you dangle a big orb of a thing right in the middle, showcasing the amazing height of the room. At the same time, by hanging the fixture well below the roof line, she helps to fill out the space, offer a glimpse of eye candy to anyone on the second floor, and bring the "top" of the room down a bit closer to the furniture, which helps the occupants feel less like bottom dwellers in a (very glamorous) ocean. 

2. The Organic Beauty

  Credit: Chandelier by  Christopher Trujillo ; Desgin by  Stephen Sills . Via  Elle Decor .


Credit: Chandelier by Christopher Trujillo; Desgin by Stephen Sills. Via Elle Decor.

Designer Stephen Sills placed this amazing, one-of-a-kind pendant by artist Christopher Trujillo in a bedroom, and it's made of.... PAPER PLATES. Yes. I became instantly obsessed when I saw this shot via Elle Decor, and it very nearly inspired me to create my own version of paper-goods lighting. But then I thought about fire hazards, and staple wounds, and, you know, climbing a ladder, and then trying to explain to my husband why we need a Costco membership ("because they have the GOOD paper plates!"). So instead I just watched this video of the artist putting one together, and fantasized about hiring him to make a proper one for me. It's mesmerizing.

3. The A+ in Geometry

  Credit: Design by  Lindsey Coral Harper ; Image via  HouseBeautiful


Credit: Design by Lindsey Coral Harper; Image via HouseBeautiful

This one came across my Instagram feed yesterday. HouseBeautiful spotlighted Lindsey Coral Harper's grasscloth-enveloped room and I adore the big, angular brass-and-translucent-glass fixture. Everything about this room is lovely—the low Ming-style table, classic gourd lamp, framed textiles—but the lighting takes it to another level. 

4. The Captains of Industry

Kitchen island and dining room pendants are often comically undersized. I think many homes, even those without lofted ceilings, could get away with a large pendant hanging overhead, especially one that bathes a small table in a moody pool of light. This shot is clearly taken in a restaurant, not a home, but how lovely would these industrial-style fixtures be in a minimalist farmhouse-type space? Yum. 

5. The Glowing Orb

   Source:  Flagship Photo

This one's from another restaurant, but it's one of my favorite spots in Boston: Trade. Designed by Maryann Thompson Architects, the place boasts at least two of these huge half-dome fixtures, custom made by a metal fabricator in central Massachusetts. The impact is incredible, and while there's only a single bulb suspended in the center of the dome, the whole thing glows thanks to a saffron-hued interior. They're jaw-droppingly cool in real life.

What do you think? Which room would you be most likely to put a ginormous, glamorous fixture in in your own house?