Anyway, with that in mind, I got a bit of feedback on my pendant light obsession, which I described in a December 2, 2012 post titled "Ship the light fantastic". In that post, I described the difficulty I had locating an over-the-dining-table light fixture that did not incinerate my eyeballs.
|I ended up acquiring this fascinating contraption, which my husband now refers to as The Death Star. It fulfilled my criteria of looking really cool and contemporary while not shining light directly into my eyes, but it was ridiculously expensive and I didn't think that its construction was very robust.|
|As it turns out, IKEA Houston does sell pendant fixtures that are specifically designed so that the hottest part of the bulb is prevented from shining directly into your eyes. This very inexpensive example has a shield-type thing below the bulb.|
|Same idea, bigger fixture, at one-tenth the price I paid for the Death Star. But even with the shield, there's some side glare, as you can see (squint, squint). |
So why didn't I discover an option such as this in my original search? Well, if you search the IKEA web pages for pendant lights, they only show the light fixtures straight-on sideways, perpendicular to the cord. You don't get to see the undersides, and that's where the magic happens (or doesn't).
|View looking almost straight up from underneath (I didn't want to completely sprawl out on the table in IKEA when I took this). The effect is not as much like an operating table, but it still reminds me a bit of a dentist's chair. Gulp.|
|Portfolio 17-in W Chrome Pendant Light|
We picked one up at Lowes for about a hundred bucks.
|This is what it looks like installed. The bottom panel is frosted glass, not plastic, so it's a reasonably good diffuser of light. And by dropping it down about eighteen inches from the ceiling, it becomes an up-light as well as a down-light, which illuminates the whole room very nicely. |
Design-wise, note the all-important stylistic cross-referencing here:
(1) The pendant chain is the same as the chains I used to string up this room divider curtain that conceals the bed from a direct line-of-sight down the hallway (this is a teenager's room).
(2) All metal parts are brushed nickel, except for the two white skyhooks holding the curtain, which I need to touch up with nickel-looking paint.
(3) The circle-with-dot-in-center motif appears both in the light fixture and in the pattern of the curtain.
Note also how the wall color is added to superior surfaces while the inferior surfaces are white. I made this point in at least one other post. If your builder has bequeathed you with ten-foot ceilings on eight-foot stud walls such that you end up with a vault at every exterior surface, there is no "ceiling" per se. There's no "ceiling" to paint in a conventional sense. It makes more sense to run one cohesive color up the exterior wall, across the vault, and continue it across the ceiling, with white side-caps for contrast. This makes for a very contemporary or modern look, but there's really no way to make a drywall configuration like this look traditional, because it's very un-traditional.
|Same fixture as seen from below. I'm not sure I'd want to hang it above my dining table, but with that diffuser, it's better than many of the eyeball-frying alternatives. And the price was certainly right.|
OK, I saved the piece de resistance for last.
Someone emailed me pictures of this fixture which reportedly is hanging in the stairwell of a federal building here in Houston.
|WOW. These things are PERFECT.|
Actually, I'm told that there are three of them in the stairwell of this federal building, and this is them.
Not over a dining table or a conference table - in a STAIRWELL.
|Apparently it is this fixture, designed by artist Poul Henningsen in 1924. The description indicates how this design was meticulously crafted not to fry a person's eyeballs (emphasis mine): "PH Snowball is a 360-degree glare-free luminaire. The geometry of the PH Snowball is designed to ensure that all the illuminated surfaces of the shades are struck by the rays of light at the same angle, creating even illumination. The tops of the shades are glossy, creating sparkling light. The undersides are matte, avoiding reflections."|
Screengrab and narrative excerpt from this site.
Ahem. Pardon me. So I said to my source, "Surely some federal bean-counter did NOT spend seventy-five hundred taxpayer dollars to hang these three extraordinary fixtures in a public stairwell, did they?? Surely these ones you photographed for me were actually cheap knock-offs?"
"They didn't look like knock-offs," source replied. "They look like they are made of metal, like the real things."
I checked the internet. There are indeed PH Snowball knock-offs out there, but you can pretty much tell from the posted pics which ones are fake. The federal finery shown above appears to be the real deal.
Sigh. And here I was worried about splurging on the Death Star. Leave it to Uncle Sam to raise the bar of sheer extravagance to a level five times higher than my wildest dreams.