lighting old world halls with style

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ask a designer – lighting old world halls with style

Q.I am building a large home in the Old World European style. It is more eastern European than French or English.


The home has huge hallways and some arches and vaults. We have chosen handsome light fixtures for most rooms, but we are worried there won’t be enough light. Also, our builder suggests recessed lights in the hallways, but we don’t want to break away from our authentic style. What do you suggest?—J.M.

A. Generally, I recommend keeping your style consistent throughout while maintaining the sense of easy, high function that modern living demands. I use recessed lights as fill-in lights in historical homes and never for main lighting. For very tall rooms, I place recessed lights in corners or between coffered or other ceiling beams while using authentically styled chandeliers as focal points.
You are in luck with the hallway! Just recently the pendant lighting trend has caught on so well that manufacturers of lighting have expanded their offerings in every style group to include pendant chandeliers, highly styled lanterns, and simple pendants. Choose the correct light by looking at the proportion of the hallway. If the ceiling height is at least 10 feet, you can use chain to drop the light down and use a downward pointing piece. The taller the ceiling, the longer the chain and fixture length you can use.
If the hallway is wide, you can use a sprawling arm chandelier.  The easy choice is something ornate that has a simple vertical emphasis such as these. Space them in a row along the hallway for a grand look appropriate for any Imperial dwelling.

contemporary sunroom surfaces
Q. Our sunroom is our favorite room in the house. We are renovating it to have central heat and air so that wedesigner0310_chair_2_240x222 can use it all year. We would like your help updating it. We have been viewing local Parades of Homes and like the new things we see. Which trendy things can we add to the room? Is our brick floor out of date? We were thinking of doing tile. The one wall has to stay brick, because it is the exterior of the house before the addition.—B.R.

A. The brick flooring is probably actually the foundation of the room. Replacing the brick would be a very major and costly change.  Brick is not the best selling material simply because it isn’t new.  The trend toward easy-going living and real surfaces includes brick, so I would be happy keeping it. Add stacked stone around the fireplace, simple faux finishes, and other aged accents to continue the look as a casual environment and to move away from a Southern Colonial look.
Since the room is a simple rectangle, I think a coffered ceiling would be a great way to update and change the feeling of the room. 
Here is one in cedar and copper which links the red tones of the brick and uses some of the hottest materials and techniques today.

designer0310_floorplan_new_234x240dealing with ‘emo’ decorating trends
Q. My daughter is 13 going on 21. She has a beautiful room, but she is begging to change everything. She wants black walls and “emo” bedding. I just can’t give in to that. What would you suggest to give her a taste of the look she wants while keeping the room appropriate for our home which is more formal and traditional?—E.O.

A.You are not alone!  Most parents find themselves either giving in or fighting the idea of a black room  at one time or another.  
Typically, what the teenage girl is after is a sense of seriousness in her surroundings. To tell you the truth, a little paint wouldn’t ruin the look of the house. As long as you paint walls and not trim with dark colors, repainting is not difficult.
My favorite compromise between parent and teenager is an accent wall of a dark or vibrant color to appease the teenager’s need to make a statement and the parents need to prevent a cave-like effect. You have an easy task if the accent wall is also the wall for the bed.  
Now, your color can create a drama that works for you.
As for “Emo,” I believe that the important aspect is to portray a deep sense of (emotional) feeling.         designer0310_floorplan_old_200x240Young people today don’t like flash-in-the-pan ideas, so their decorating reflects their deeper thoughts. Consider some of these trendy fabrics in grown up shades of purple, black, chartreuse, and fuchsia. Here are some unique fabrics which have refined embroidery within a very trendy young style. These will go a long way to complement the fine look of the home in general. Next, see if your daughter would like the look to be a little easy going, like the popular character in “Juno” or if she cares for a Hollywood glam style. Personal expression within a controlled drama will last through to her college years.

We welcome all questions related to home design—ask us about color, room arrangement, planning for a new home, selecting furnishings, lighting, flooring, and more. Questions are answered by Tanna Miller, Allied member ASID, a well respected designer who has operated her award winning interior design practice Trends & Traditions in Nashville for 18 years.Visit or call 615/ 601-0552.

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