10' ceiling in our 32' x 22' grand room, hanging lamp or not?

threeapplesJanuary 30, 2012

we will have two sets of large, double-wide double hung windows and two regular double hung windows and currently have planned to put a sconce on either side of the fireplace. the electrician is wiring for two floor lamps or table lamps in the center of the room. i fear this large room will not have enough electric light. it might be nice to put a chandelier in there, but i worry that the 10 ft ceiling would be too low. the space is so large that a semi-flush or flush light would look tiny and silly with such a huge ceiling, even if we did two. we'd like to make this Georgian style home look historic, so no can lights in this room. any suggestions about a ceiling lamp in the size of this space? or, should i put a pull-out sconce on the wall of one of the corners of the room and plan to have a reading chair and table there to add a bit of light that way? sorry, i still am unable to get images online. thanks!

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I too would worry about not having enough light. While your windows will probably allow for plenty of natural light in the daytime, they won't help at night or on those dismal dark rainy days.

The link below might be helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Choosing the right size chandelier

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:28AM
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Thanks for the link! According to its suggestions I'd need a fixture over 5 ft in diameter which would look kind of strange with only 10' ceiling. I'm not sure what to do since the height of the fixture would be short compared to its width. Any advice? Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:55AM
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I am assuming, due the scale of your home, that you are working with an interior designer...I would be terrified of attempting to decorate a 32' x 22' foot room and not end up having it look like hotel ballroom! :) Is he or she working on furniture needs and placement? I think a room this size would need to have several different "zones" or perhaps two large conversation areas or something. Regardless, if you are against recessed lighting, you should really work with a lighting specialist AND your ID to make sure this ends up the way you envision it! Can't wait to see it when it is finished, sounds amazing!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 10:35AM
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One of Steve Giannetti's houses on his website has two chandeliers and two seating zones. I wouldn't do one for a room that size.

I am not sure about the 10' ceilings and a chandelier though - it was one of the reasons we eliminated it from our den.

I agree with nini - I would have your designer do a furniture/lamp plan for this room and be sure you can get enough floor and table lamps in there to make it not be dark.

I think that is the only way to see if you can get away without a ceiling light fixture.

One possibility for the ceiling though would be lanterns - that could look great and they don't usually take up as much "height" so you could find them in the right size I think. The lowest I would hang them would be 7' above the floor so you only have 3' to work with and want to be sure to leave enough chain so it doesn't look silly . . .

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 10:44AM
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Agree that in a room that size, you need more than one chandelier because you're bound to have more than one "area" And with two or more chandeliers, each can be smaller than if you only have one.

The link below is to an article about actor Rob Lowe's Georgian style home. In the third picture down, (right below the one of him), you can see a largish great room and, if you look closely you'll see that there are two chandeliers. You can just see the very edge of the second chandelier at the top right hand of the picture.

Based on the height of the fireplace and the size of the furnishings, I'd bet money that this room has a 10 foot ceiling and is about 18 to 20 ft wide. Can't really tell the length because we probably only see about 2/3rds of the room but if the two chandys are the same distance from opposite walls, it looks to me like the room is probably around 28 feet long.

Remember too that visual weight matters also. With a more visually weighty chandelier, you can and should go a little smaller. And, with Georgian style, you can definitely add ceiling rosettes to increase the apparent width and visual weight of your chandeliers.

BTW, to add images, first go to someplace like Photobucket.com and get a free account. Upload your images to that site. The site will then assign certain html code that you can copy and paste into the body of your post. You won't be able to see the image till you click to preview your message but once you do that, you'll know if you've done it right.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rob Loew's Georgian house

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:07AM
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A 10" ceiling is not proportionate to the room's overall size. Anything larger than around a 10'x10' seating cluster is too large for comfortable conversations, so plan to divide the space into separate "zones" based on that measurement. This is really two large rooms, not one. You need to do your best to create two distinct spaces here, and that could involve ceiling moldings and/or possible columns to separate the two spaces as well as two or more different furniture placement conversation areas. (Or do you have a grand piano? This would be a great room for a piano area.)

After you've designated the cluster areas, then two chandeliers will feel "right" and be proportionate to those 10' ceilings.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:56AM
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This is the Giannetti house with the two chandeliers in a similar sized room. There are also two seating areas and two rugs. Personally, I think that is enough - I would keep the moldings consistent and wouldn't introduce columns.

I think the ceilings here are higher than 10' though.

This is the view of one of the sitting areas. The other one is also on this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Two chandeliers

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:18PM
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thanks everyone.

yes, we are working with a designer and she is suggesting two seating areas, but has not suggested any ceiling fixtures. i emailed her regarding my concern and havent heard back yet.

i don't think floor or table lamps will be enough in this space.

columns are not my style, but thanks for the suggestion.

i found some nice, wide crystal ceiling mount fixtures--why is one in the middle of the room not ok in terms of aesthetics? why do i have to have two fixtures just because we will have two seating arrangements?

any additional thoughts? thanks!

oh, and what do you all think about a swing arm sconce near a chair in the corner of the room?

Here is a link that might be useful: possible fixture

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Sophie Wheeler

If your ceiling was 18' high and you used a 6'x6' chandelier, then one fixture would be proportionate---for a church or banquette space or other public space. It's not even close if you want the feeling of "home".The proportions are off as built and you're trying to compensate with decor, which doesn't work to overcome architectural mistakes. As it is, with a 10' ceiling and a 32' length, 2 might not even be right proportionately. 4 might work better with the room's odd dimensions. You may not want recessed light, but that may be the only way to properly light this room.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:30PM
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i didn't realize the room's proportions were an "architectural mistake." i'm rather frustrated now as i think four fixtures would look silly and i'm not even sure two would work unless they are ceiling mount, which isn't really in keeping with the Georgian style of the home.

i did a search for "drawing room georgian home" and saw several images of huge, long rooms (no idea of the height of ceilings) and many have just one central chandelier and it looks great. the problem is, however, that we can't obviously use a chandelier that is very tall and the shorter ones tend to be smaller in diameter.

i'm really feeling at a loss here and welcome further input.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:37PM
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I just think one ceiling fixture in a room that size would look a little lost and lonely, lol! Plus, I think you can get shadows in the corners of the room if you have only one overhead light source. I do like those swing arm lamps. Could you also do some more sconces? That can help with shadows.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:37PM
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I agree that if you are going to do two seating areas, two fixtures would be preferable, particularly in a room that is twice as long as most rooms. I think it can actually look very nice, and it will let you downsize your chandelier choices somewhat. Two smaller diameter chandeliers would look nice and you wouldn't get into the problem of one chandelier having to be so large not to get lost that it would hang too low.

The general rule of thumb is to add the width and the length of the room which would give you a 4 1/2 foot wide fixture - way too big for a 10' ceiling.

I do think you can put enough floor and ceiling lamps in there to get sufficient light - but it would take careful planning and furniture arrangement to do so. You would also want to plan your floor plugs accordingly and perhaps even have one side of the plug "switched" so you can turn all lights on and off at once.

I think the two smaller ceiling fixtures is the way to go

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:52PM
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Thanks, Athensmom, for once again calming down about the planning of this house!

So if we take the mathematical rule-of-thumb for the size of a fixture and split it in half since there will be two, should I try to find a chandelier that is roughly 2 ft. wide and no taller than 2 ft tall? That won't look very tiny in such a large space? thanks!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:00PM
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I think you could go up to 28" or perhaps even 30". You just want it to hang 7' above the floor, max, and try to have enough chain so it does not look funny. Also, the wider it is, the taller it would have to be not to look squatty I think.

Also look at the Enchanted Home blog - she has several very large and long rooms and has multiple fixtures - they look great!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:13PM
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don't think anyone was saying that from an aesthetic point of view you HAVE to have two (or more) ceiling light fixtures just because you'll have two seating areas. But there are several good reasons to do so.

First, IF you go with two (or more) chandy's each one can have be a smaller diameter without looking "lost" and you will probably find a lot more options available to you. There just aren't that many choices of chandeliers available that have the large size diameter you probably need without being too tall for 10 ft ceilings.

More importantly, with two or more light fixtures, the room will be more evenly illuminated. If you put a single fixture in the middle of your 32' x 22' grand room, the edges of the room will be more than 15 feet away from the light. Illumination drops off as the square of the distance to a light so in a very large room, the light could be uncomfortably bright when you are right under the fixture but still be too dim to read by when you are near the edges of the room.

In other words, let's say you put the proper wattage in a single fixture in the middle of the room so that the light is exactly right (neither too bright nor too dim) when you are standing right under the fixture. In a 10 ft tall room, that would put your eyes about 2 ft from the light when you are standing up. When you stand at a spot near the edge of your 32 ft long room, you eyes will be about 16 feet from the light (and a bit more if you are sitting down). You will be 8 times as far away from the light as you were originally. But instead of getting only 1/8th as much illumination from the light, you only get 1/64th as much! That is what is meant by illumination dropping off as the square of the distance. (Eight squared is equal to 64 so 8 times further away results in 1/64th the amount of illumination.)

If you have two ceiling fixtures properly positioned, then as you move further from one, you will be moving closer to the other so as the illumination from one drops off the illumination from the other increases keeping the net illumination more even. Four properly spaced fixtures would provide for even more even overall illumination. Make sense?

BTW, that crystal ceiling-mounted fixture you linked to is absolutely gorgeous! Unfortunately, at over $3000, all by itself it would have eaten up my entire light fixture budget and then some!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:25PM
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thanks for the very helpful and detailed response!

yes, that fixture i posted is incredibly expensive. i'm thinking of doing two of this williamsburg style instead, which i'll link to below.

now for my next question--do we put each fixture in the center of that half of the room or break the ceiling into thirds and put each fixture in the middle of it's corresponding section. i ask because there will be a fireplace in the center of the 32' length and the fireplace is flanked by windows on either side of it. my husband suggests putting the lights in the line of sight that is central to the windows (partly because he wants to see one of the lights from the foyer since the entrance to the grand room is in front of this window) and i say it makes more sense to have the fixtures centered in their half of the room (one per each side). what say you, gardenweb?

athensmom, i love theenchandtedhome blog!!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: better option?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 3:52PM
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thanks so much, bevangel!

I'm posting a link to another type of light and thinking two of this type might be the best solution to the problem.

but, now for the other dilemma.....do we basically divide the room in half lengthwise and put one of these in the center of each half or divide the room into thirds and put one lamp in the center of each of the outer thirds? my husband suggests the latter because then the fixtures will be in-line with the windows on the long wall and you would also be able to see one of them in the center of the opening into the foyer. if we do the former option you'd only see part of one of these fixtures from the foyer instead of the whole fixture. any thoughts?

Here is a link that might be useful: better option?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 5:12PM
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I'm not sure if you noticed than Giannetti home has recessed lights as well. I agree that you need to start with a furniture layout first and then go from there. If it were me, I'd do 3 chandeliers, plus wall scones and table lamps.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:32PM
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You desperately need a lighting designer. Without recessed lighting, a room of this size with that low of a ceiling will need scads of sconces and ceiling fixtures and you want to be sure you get them appropriately sized and placed. Talk to a local well respected lighting store. They usually have a lighting designer on staff or can recommend one.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 10:13PM
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If two ceiling chandeliers were going to be your ONLY source of light, you would get the most even illumination across the entire room by centering each light in it's half of the room (i.e., putting each of them 1/4th of the room length or 8 ft from the end walls.

But you WILL have other lighting so it is not necessary that the lighting from the chandy's be absolutely perfect. Plus you need to take your planned furniture arrangement into consideration. If you will have two conversation areas, they'll likely be separated by some space down the middle so that the center of each conversation area is not exactly in at the 1/4th point. It would probably actually look better to have each light centered above the area ACTUALLY occupied by the seating on that side of the room - which means that the lights would probably wind up being a bit closer to the end walls than the 1/4th point.

Your husband's idea of centering the lights on the doors sounds nice - especially since it centers a light in the view from the foyer - except dividing the room into thirds and then putting a light at the midpoint of the two outer thirds means each light would only be about 5.5 ft from the wall. I doubt your "conversation area" would be centered quite THAT close to a wall so the chandelier would wind up seeming too far to one side of the conversation area.

Another possibility might be to use three chandeliers. That would give your nice even illumination across the entire room AND allow you to see one chandelier centered in the view from your foyer. And with basically two chandeliers over each conversation area, it wouldn't matter that they weren't centered right over the middle of the furniture.

Really, your lighting designer should be able to help you get these details worked out. And if all else fails, get a whole bunch of small balloons, blow up a bunch and tie them in bunches to simulate the approximate size of the chandeliers you think you want. Then go out to the house and thumbtack the bunches to the ceilings at the points you think you want lights. You'll quickly get a sense of where "feels right" to you.

I thought I wanted three pendant lights over my kitchen bar but couldn't decide exactly where they needed to be located or how far down they needed to hang till I took some balloons out and hung them up to simulate the lights. Immediately I could see that 3 lights just wasn't going to work. decide exactly where I wanted pendant lights over my kitchen bar until I hung balloons over it. I could immediately see that 3 pendant lights just wasn't going to work. I needed 5 and was able to mark the exact spots where they needed to be. After I had them thumb-tacked the ballons so they hung in spots where they "looked right", I measured and there was not a half-inch difference in the distances between pairs of light. And, now that I have the actual pendant lights, I am very happy with how they look. What looked "right" was right.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 10:14PM
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Fantastic idea, bevangel I'm going to try to do this today and take photos to paste here!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Gosh I don't know what to tell you. I would want to have a full seating plan with dimensions before deciding where the chandeliers should be. I do know your electricians can float a wire in the general vicinity and you can nail down the placement later (we did that for the pendants over our island - wires are still floating and sheetrocked over) if you haven't completed your plan for that room yet.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:43AM
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re: I would want to have a full seating plan with dimensions before deciding where the chandeliers should be. Having a seating plan to make sure that all your furniture will actually fit into a particular room in SOME reasonable way is fine. But a full seating plan with dimensions before deciding on whether to get one or two or three ceiling fixtures seems a bit overly "structured."

Seating plans change a LOT quicker than light fixtures do. A sofa gets frayed and needs to be replaced and the new one is a few inches longer or shorter or deeper than the first, or Aunt Susie develops hip problems and needs to have a chair with a high solid seat instead of that low wide cushy chair to sit in, or DH decides he just has to have a new even bigger screen TV that won't quite fit in the spot where the smaller one was so you move the TV to the adjacent wall... and suddenly you're having to move everything around anyway to accommodate the new piece of furniture and that ceiling fixture that was so mathematically-precisely-centered-over-the-furniture-grouping before isn't so mathematically-precisely-centered anymore anyway. LOL!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Alas I will be unable to go to the site today, but will try to do so tomorrow.

As it stands, we do not own any furniture for this room yet, so it's all speculation as to what we'll buy and when. Much of it depends on finances. We will not be moving into a fully furnished home and our currently-owned furniture will, in some cases, not be used in the next house for various reasons and, in other cases won't even work in this room at all. So, we can postulate about arrangements of pieces we'll hope to own, but that's it at this point.

Since the electrician needs this information by the end of the week and because we have a million other things going on (needs of our kids, etc.) there is no way I'm going to be able to hire a lighting designer in that time.

Oh my goodness, it's so overwhelming......

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 12:16PM
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C'mon threeapples, you've gotten this far. All the really hard stuff is behind you.

You're in the "home stretch" now where the remaining decisions are relatively minor. I mean, what is the WORST that can happen if your ceiling fixtures don't wind up exactly where you want them? You have to get the electrician back out to move the boxes and then get the sheetrocker out to patch the sheetrock and the painter out to repaint the patched spots. Not fun and it'll cost you a little bit of money but the whole thing can be taken care of in two days... or can be postponed for 2 or 3 years and taken care of then if it still bugs you. This is NOT like deciding on your floor plans, or hiring a builder, or making major decisions like a brick color or your flooring and then deciding when it is half installed that you hate THAT. LOL!

Hang tough my friend. You can do it and the finish line is within smelling distance! We're pulling for you and can't wait to see the final pictures of your lovely new home.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 2:49PM
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By seating plan with dimensions, I would want to have drawn out where the seating areas will be, approximate rug sizes, and what would be in them in general terms. I don't think you need a seating plan of each area down to each precise bit of furniture but furniture comes in pretty basic standard sizes (sofas, club chairs, wing chairs, odd side chairs, etc.). That would be close enough for these purposes. It may even be enough to determine rug sizes (i presume you will need two) and center it on those. I do think the light fixtures need to relate to the seating areas - I think it might look funny if you have a seating zone with a chandelier off center. . .

Because of your time crunch, I would see if you could float the wires . . . Not sure how they find them after they float them (they just nail them to a ceiling joist with some extra wire in the loop), but as long as you are in the general vicinity, it is fine. This would allow you to get a generalized seating plan.

I just can't envision the room without a picture so I can't weigh in on my two cents - I am very visual and without a picture I have nothing ;)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Yay! I figured out how to post a link to the designer's floor plan options for this room. So, please take a look at all three and let me know if you have better ideas. We likely won't ever buy that double sofa, but it is intriguing. Anyway, I found out the room is actually 35 x 24, a bit bigger than I earlier thought. You can see that one of the long walls has two windows and the opposing long wall has an opening into the foyer hallway, so I wonder if it's best to center the lights on the windows or so that you can see the entirety of one of them from the foyer opening. Any thoughts on any of this would be greatly appreciated!

Here is a link that might be useful: grand room floor plan options

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 5:40PM
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I vote for centering the chandeliers on the windows. I get nervous with a chandelier directly over the seating unless it's very high up.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Do you know how far centering on the windows is from the wall? I am afraid it may be too close to the wall to center on the windows.

Also, while your husband is correct you will be able to see the lights from the foyer, it seems like you will only see a portion of them. If you center on the room and on the windows, half of the fixture is going to be chopped off from view.

It looks like you are planning a single seating area with fill ins (game table, piano) around the edges. Maybe one fixture is better if you do this?

It looks like you have lots of places to put lights and floor lamps. I would do at least 4 floor plugs, double gang, in the floor. Two doesn't seem like enough. I have 4 in my den and it is 16 x 22. They are under where the rug will go.

Phoebe Howard had a post a while back about how to decorate a large room. She suggested two seating areas and has lots of pictures of this. I'll try to find it for you!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:07PM
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It is 5 ft from the center of the windows to the walls.

I have no idea if we should do one seating arrangement or two and am very open to ideas that incorporate two. We don't own any furniture for this room and likely won't have any right away either. I'd love to see the images you refer to. Is it necessary, however, that we have the seating arrangement ironed out now?


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:53PM
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5 ft from the center of the windows to the outside walls.

I'm very open to other furniture arrangements and would love to see the ones you mentioned.

Do you think the three options my designer suggested are not great?


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:52PM
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With the room being even larger than you originally posted, I actually think that 4 smaller pendant lights would be the best choice for lighting the room. I think that lets out anything with too many frou frous. Just 4 simple multiple light fixtures.

This is simple, of good quality, and the right size to be able to use 4 in the space.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grandlight Traditional Georgian Cast Brass Chandelier

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 12:40AM
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Sorry I'm a little late to the party, but I think I have a similar room in my home. Mine is smaller and has a taller ceiling, but some pics may help your decisions

Our room is 28' x 18'. We have separated it into two seating areas. One is an area where we can gather around our TV. The other is used as an eating area (adjacent to kitchen) or a game table.

The TV seating area is anchored by an area rug; the other are is not.

We have a chandelier over each area, although the chandelier is not directly centered over either area. This was a concern, but was wasted calories as it looks fine.

We do have higher ceilings, although the spring point for our barrel vault is at the same height as your ceiling.
There was an earlier comment that 10' is not high enough for such a large room, but I don't think that is necessarily true. I pushed for a 15' ceiling height in this room, but now think 13.5 would be better. Some nice beams might look nice on your ceiling.

We do not have any cans in the room. I don't like cans and the round ceiling wasn't conducive to cans. The chandeliers are plenty of light, however each one has 8x40 watt bulbs. Your chandeliers or cans should be on dimmers for flexibility. We have two sconces over the fireplace and two lamps behind the TV area.

We don't have a ton of natural light, but that is due to the shape, height and orientation of the house. Your site may differ.

Our room is large in square footage (though not nearly as large as yours), but feels very cozy. The furniture layout can make a cavernous room feel warm.

Anyway, here are some pics to see what I'm talking about. Hopefully this helps you. From Family Room From Family Room From Family Room From Family Room From Family Room

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:43AM
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Hi threeapples. I so feel your pain. It is so difficult for me to make all of these decisions without actually living in the space. It all seems so abstract.

We actually just finished electrical and I found it to be so stressful. What really helped me was using floorplanner.com I was able to put in the dimensions of my room, add windows, arches, built-ins etc and then play around with different furniture arrangements. It made it very apparent that the sectional my husband really wanted wasn't going to work. He could see that we were going to need two sofas in an L-shape and two chairs to maximize seating that is both convenient for television watching AND conversation. With this website you can change the dimensions of the furniture and you will be able to see what sizes and orientations look best. Then, you will have a much easier time placing lights. Give it a try.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 10:21AM
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I actually think it makes sense in your case to have a seating area in the middle centered on the fireplace. I looked for the blog post but can't find it.

I am pretty sure it is on the Mrs. Howard blog - in the last 6 months. You may have to scroll through and find it but there are lots of pretty things to look at and read!

I too feel your pain. This has been very stressful for me because it all seems so permanent and I am not used to spending this type of money. . . The end is in sight over here which is good but I still feel like the decisions are overwhelming! It has been terrible for my waistline - there is no way I am fitting into my spring clothes!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mrs. Howard

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:05AM
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Ha! I just said to my friends the other day, "I'm definitely a stress weight gainer, not a stress weight loser!" Hoping it comes off easily once we move :-)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Agree that a scaled furniture plan is an invaluable tool to planning electrical and lighting plans. It is more helpful than necessary and that's the whole point. You are looking for help, so look to how you might use the space to determine the various layers and types of lighting you may need. I think your designer's personal favorite plan is good. There are multiple seating areas and activity zones with good balance. And the main area allows your fireplace to be the focal point. You could do one or two hanging fixtures. As long as the bottom of the fixture is 7' from the finished floor, you are fine. Your designer should be able to help you determine the best proportions. Do not rely on online guidelines because that's all they are, and they don't take into account other circumstances that might be at play. If you choose two fixtures, I would not center them to the windows, but evenly space them from the centerline of the room. A hanging light fixture should be positioned according to the room it is in and its function, and not the adjacent spaces. Either way, fill the perimeters and other seating areas/zones with lamps--table and floor. Her plan has lots of areas for lamps around the perimeters. I would also add sconces to either side of the fireplace regardless.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:22PM
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My favorite way to calm down about the intricacies of planning this house is to sit down, browse gardenweb, and EAT! I agree, spring will not be fun unless I find some time to exercise or learn to curb my stress/eating habits.

I'm off to browse the Mrs. Howard site and stress about the powder room now, thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:43PM
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