Creative connections and relationships inspire and fuel my own work, and they’re one of the reasons I thrive in New York City. Over the next four weeks, ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME’s website will feature my interviews with a variety of friends – some long-time relationships and some newer acquaintances.
We delve into what has made
them icons or icons-in-the-making in their creative realms. We chat about what inspires us and what
are the biggest distractions that keep us from getting work done, to what time
of day is most productive and what snacks need to be on hand.
On the blog, I’ll be sharing more about our relationships.
Creative Icon John Lithgow
I met John and his wife,
Mary, about 10 years ago, when they hired me to design their new Manhattan
We clicked instantly and chatted for hours about literature, art, design, theater, and memories of our time at Harvard. Working together was a dream. The three of us shopped all over New York and journeyed to Boston on an art-buying trip.
People use the expression
“Renaissance man” liberally, but John truly is one – actor, singer, writer, painter,
illustrator (plus more that I’m not yet aware of, I’m sure). I always look forward to our dinners or
teas, and eagerly anticipate his yearly holiday card, which features his hand-drawn
illustrations and clever greetings.
And of course, I enjoy his performances. I’m always amazed that the man I know can disappear into role after role of wildly diverse characters – from favorites like Churchill on The Crown, the Trinity Killer on Dexter, and the wacky Dick Solomon on 3rd Rock from the Sun, to Bill Clinton, and the musical leads in Sweet Smell of Success and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I can’t believe that the same gentle man I know can play both the evil Roger Ailes in Bombshelland the villain hanging off a cliff battling Sylvester Stallone. He was very touching playing himself in his one-man show, Stories by Heart, which he also wrote.
His New York Times best-selling illustrated book, Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse, showcases not only John’s artistic skills, but also his uncanny talent for assessing a situation with insightful razor-sharp wit.
For my Creative Icons series appearing on ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME, I interviewed a wide range of talented friends – some long-time relationships and some newer acquaintances.
Photographer extraordinaire, Maura Sullivan, captured these moments in black and white using only natural light. The photos and interviews can be found on ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME’s website.
Here’s a little extra from my visit.
Creative Icon Malene Barnett
Malene and I met more recently, introduced by a mutual friend who knew we’d hit it off. And hit it off we did. We connected on many levels, especially our keen interest in pursuing a variety of mediums. We both find that cross-pollination helps to spawn new ideas, approaches, and results.
Malene’s creative pursuits cross mediums from ceramics and painting to rug making. I was blown away by the gorgeous and colorful design of her home. When I visited her studio, she was painting with watercolors, which would become rug designs she was working on later that day.
Extraordinary bowls and vessels she had hand-created, fired in a kiln, and painted with exquisite details surrounded us. Her colorful mixed-medium pastel/acrylic pieces graced the walls. I want to own all of them!
She’s also a strong believer in building and expanding creative communities and opportunities. As a founder of the Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG), she aims to create an inclusive arts and design world through inclusivity. I was impressed and inspired when I attended BADG’s “Beyond the Mask” exhibition in High Point and witnessed the power and excitement Malene and BADG are bringing to the forefront.
I always tell my clients that the foyer is the most important space in the home. It’s where you create your home’s first impression and it’s the last thing you see when you leave. I can sum up a space from my first scan at the front door. Foyer chandeliers are key pieces that define the entryway to a home. No other ceiling light in the home has greater impact on one’s first impression. Therefore, you should carefully consider this design element.
Over the years, I’ve been asked the following questions and offered the following tips about foyer lighting. This includes tips for choosing lighting for the entryway
Large foyer chandeliers: Does the scale of the chandelier matter?
Yes, scale matters. Many homeowners opt for a small fixture, whose minimal impact underwhelms. Go for the big gesture, instead. If you aren’t sure, you can Photoshop a scale photo of the light onto a photo of your room.
If the entryway is large – double-height or taller – a large foyer chandelier should be used. A grand fixture will draw the eye up and enhance the volume of the space. And if the entrance has a lower ceiling, consider a flush mount or semi-flush lighting fixture. A light that is too large may bring down the ceiling and make the space feel cramped. No one wants to inhabit a space that feels oppressive.
This foyer designed by Ken Gemes at the Hampton Designer Show House uses my double-tier Choros chandelier to great effect. You can see, the airy mixed-metal fixture helps fill the space without blocking the wonderful natural light in the home’s entry. For perspective, the chandelier dimensions are 37.25″ (width) and 43.0″ (height).
Unique chandeliers: Can I use a statement light fixture in the foyer?
I love statement fixtures. And there is no better place to use a unique chandelier than in the foyer. Remember, statement fixtures do not have to be crazy or overscale. Something unique, tasteful, or exquisitely designed welcomes visitors and encourages them to expect a well-thought-out home.
Fixtures that have gold or silver leaf and crystals add to the feeling of light and height. They are the jewelry of the home. This is especially helpful in foyers without natural light, as is often the case in apartments.
Should I have only one light in the entryway?
Depending on the entrance, you may want multiple lights. For example, in a Lower Fifth Avenue duplex project, two pendant chandeliers, several sconces, and a mirror with candelabra were all used in its graceful foyer. It all depends on the size and proportion of the entrance.
A long gallery definitely requires more than one fixture, as I’ve done in the apartment below.
Contemporary chandeliers vs Traditional chandeliers
You can’t go wrong with the traditional way of thinking: Contemporary chandeliers and pendants are probably going to be more successful in more modern settings. And traditional lighting will feel more organic in traditional-style homes.
The Latimer pendant a clean-lined fixture from my Currey & Co. lighting collection, would be just as at-home in a modern foyer as in an Art-Deco-style home.
If one has a creative eye, mixing eclectic designs can be the right move. Traditional interiors can be off-set by a modern fixture, adding whimsy and loosening things up. The use of different styles at once can be interesting, too. Eclectic combos of traditional lighting in an industrial chic loft provides drama. Similarly, a modern fixture in a traditional farmhouse can make the space feel fresher and less predictable.
Is recessed lighting something I should consider?
Recessed lighting can be used to great effect as you enter a home. For instance, I used recessed lighting in a project with a floating ceiling. This had many benefits.
First, the floating ceiling allowed for a slightly lower ceiling entry, which then opened up to a larger full-height ceiling in the living room. The recessed lighting added dimension both above (toward the ceiling) and beyond. This provided a sense of space in the distance, rather than cramping the entry.
Second, it provided dramatic lighting for a painting which hung in the entryway. The fixtures are not the star of this entryway, but the light they project gives additional impact and drama to the entrance of the home.
I find the best use of recessed lighting is to highlight art on the walls. It ensures that your art is evenly lit and also augments decorative lights in the room. Plus, it helps to create different scenes and moods within the space.
What is the right height for hanging a chandelier?
Over the years, I have found that people tend to hang entry chandeliers too high. If the fixture is too high, it makes the proportion of the space feel “off.” Plus, the higher the fixture is hung, the harder it is to see anything but the underside. And, when you are able to see more of the fixture – not only the bottom – you are able to appreciate the overall design of the lighting piece.
As long as entryway chandeliers are 7 feet above the floor, you are probably OK.
How do I find the right foyer light?
You can search for lighting ideas on your computer, network with design-savvy friends who know where to shop, or hire a professional with resources you may not find. A design professional will know where to find the best lighting, as well as understand the scale and application of the design.
When purchasing foyer chandeliers yourself, make sure the fixture is UL-Rated for safety. Also, check if standard shipping includes free shipping of the fixture. Crating and shipping charges can be significant when purchasing larger lighting pieces. Additionally, find out if the piece needs to be assembled on-site. I recommend using a licensed electrician for all installations.
Depending on the home and the volume of the foyer, I always opt for a dramatic foyer chandelier (or chandeliers). It is a welcoming gesture that lets you know what’s to come. Be it an iron lantern or gilded piece with crystals, the foyer lighting sets the tone.