A few months ago, House Beautiful celebrated its 120th anniversary. To mark the occasion, it made a really cool list of 120 things and ideas that the editors find evergreen. Like Taylor Swift and whoever the heck she’s singing about in that inescapable song, these décor stand-bys never go out of style. “The Best of the Best,” they called this list, and they did a brilliant job.
In the post that follows, we've taken items from this comprehensive list on timeless décor that we felt tied into lighting or what we do here, and have responded to them or illustrated the concept in some way, using each as a prompt. The quote or item from the article is preceded by the magazine's initials and its number in the list, the words italicized. HVL denotes the beginning of our response. Enjoy!
HB: 1) A dramatic entryway that heralds “hello!”
HVL: Number one on their list was the first thing anyone encounters entering a home—the entryway. Well, it’s hard to do an entryway right without a lighting fixture that sets a tone for the space. How do you want to feel stepping through the door into the house? How do you want a guest to feel? The light fixture you select plays a large role in this. Shall it be dramatic? Shall it be historic, contemporary, or futuristic? Shall it be small and intimate or large and grand? A light is likely the first thing someone notices when they walk into a space. For more on the topic, check out our post on the subject, "You Had Me at Hello," and our Engaging Entryways, Magic Mudrooms Pinterest board.
Hudson Valley Lighting Vestal | Nina Seed Interiors | Caroline Maguire Photography
Wall sconces and table lamps also have their part to play in entryways. Don't forget about them amidst the drama of heavenly hanging light fixtures.
HB: 16) PAIRS: Of lamps. Of settees. Of anything. Symmetry works.
HVL: In our last post, we showed how Shawn Henderson used pairs of our Marshall table lamps on either side of the couch and bed, setting up a symmetry that both looked pleasing and contributed to a sense of cool, collected calm. Of course, it’s not just lamps they’re talking about. It could be pillows on the couch; it could be candlesticks on the mantel; it could be separate pieces of art housed in the same frame and spaced evenly, balancing each other out. In our post on fireplaces, we discussed how flanking one with wall sconces symmetrically calls attention to the architectural focal point and the beauty of the mantel. The fireplaces below with our sconces above them say it all.
HB: 17) Mood Lighting: As a rule, go for as many small sources of light as you dare.
18)...and everything on a dimmer!
HVL: Everything on a dimmer! We couldn’t agree more. Setting the three layers of light—ambient, task, and accent—is important in part because it gives you options and range in setting a vibe appropriate for differents moods and occasions. But you can only do this as long as all the light sources are wired to a dimmer switch.
Too-bright ligthing, especially coming down on them from an ambient source, ceiling-mounted or installed, can make guests feel over-exposed. If a room has enough wall sconces, small pendants, table and floor lamps, it can create the right balance of accent light and task light, both creating an ambience conducive to a sense of intimacy and providing the necessary illumination for the performance of certain tasks. When all light sources in a room are set to a dimmer, they can work in tandem to add decorative drama to the room, adequately illuminate people and tasks, highlight items of interest, and create a mood.
HB: 5) Games tables
HVL: Yes, indeed. There’s some refinement of the old world suggested by their mere presence, indicating leisure time, as well as time a family spends interacting, playing—so important. That time usually comes at night, especially in the winter, when the nights are long and must be whiled away somehow. For this reason, games tables need evenly distributed, bright light to illuminate play. Island lights and shaded pendants are ideally suited for this task. Keep 36” between the surface of the table and the base of the fixture.
HB: 23) Highly curated bookshelves, with breathing room.
39) Collections: Whatever keeps you on the lookout for that next elusive piece.
HVL: Put these two together, and what do you have? A collection that gives you delight and deserves due reverence. Picture lights or sconces like our Hillsdale, Exeter, or Garden City are essential in such schemes. If you have built-in bookshelves, this is especially the case.
Our Garden City and Exeter wall sconces, perfect for angling light onto floating shelves or built-in bookshelves.
Placing treasured objects in a carefully angled ray of light draws attention to them and gives them a hallowed aura, like items in a museum.
(Though, the bibliophiles amongst us scoff at this “breathing room” and “highly curated” nonsense.) For more inspiration, check out our post on home libraries and our Library of (Your) Dreams Pinterest board. Be prepared to drool.
And speaking of drool...
HB: 53) A breakfast nook.
HVL: Yup. Covered that one.
HB: 54) X Marks the Spot: There’s simply no wrong spot for an X-bench or two.
HVL: Can’t argue with that! But even better if they allow one to warm one’s bones beside the fire or grant a closer look at gorgeous lighting fixtures like our Royalton wall sconces. This room designed by Stacy Thompson checks all the boxes.
Hudson Valley Lighting Royalton sconces | Compass Design Interiors | Photo by Anne Buskirk Bailey
HB: 58) Hurricanes: Cue the romance! Line your entryway or place them on the floor of the powder room.
HVL: Wow, we love this idea! There’s no substitute for candles and real live flickering flames. However, if you love the look of hurricane glass and the sense of class and history it imbues into a space, you should probably check out families like our Beekman, Pamelia, and Lafayette, which carry the concept into contemporary settings.
Not to mention our Wentworth.
Left to right: Pamelia, Lafayette, Beekman, and Wentworth
HB: 61) Glitz: If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then crystals are who you call for last-minute cocktails.
HVL: Girl, tell us about it! Over the past couple of years, we've been on a mission to bring a lot more crystal—and rock crystal—into our line. Up the glitz; up the glam; thank you, ma'am. Crystal beads, crystal finials, crystal cascades, crystal teardrops that make that old saw about lighting fxtures being the jewelry of the room ring true.
Clockwise from top left: Crawford, Cambria, Ballston, Royalton
HB: 67) Chinoiserie: Tony Duquette brought ancient Asian accents to Bel Air in the ‘60s and it’s still trending.
HVL: Check out our “Charming Chinoiserie” Pinterest board.
HB: 75) Something sparkly.
HVL: Have you met Dunkirk?
HB: 79) Kitchen Pendants: Statement-making versions are the new paradigm for lighting an island.
HVL: We’ve noticed islands are the norm in kitchens of distinction these days. While we still make island lights and have even added a couple recent families to the roster, it seems bold pendants are what is desired for this space, and it is with relish we've supplied the market with many to choose from and seen them going up in beautiful kitchens. Here are a few recent faves from Instagram.
Two or three, depending on the size, get the job done. A quick tip:
Multiply the square footage of the countertop area by 2.5 to determine how many watts of incandescent light you will need. Then select pendants or island fixtures with sufficient output to accomplish your goal. Remember to leave 30” between the fixture base and the counter surface.
For more on lighting your kitchen island, check out our post, “Cool On Your Island.”
Hudson Valley Lighting Alpine | Michele Merz at MMI Design
HB: 88) Plates hung on the wall.
HVL: Like these?
HB: 96) Grass Cloth: Swathe rooms in this natural woven wallpaper for warmth and texture. Bonus: It helps muffle noise.
HVL: Grass cloth wall-coverings absolutely never go out of style. They're calming and neutral while elevating the room with their subtle texture. There's something essentially classy about them. Quintessential, even.
Maybe that's why the author of Quintessential Kitchens, Matthew Quinn, used it in this gorgreous, luxurious bathroom that House Beautiful featured in their "The Essentials" section as Bath of the Month, March 2017. No stranger to Quinn's brilliant, knowledgeable, and inspired design, we're also a part of this stunning bathroom; it features our Gaines pendant and Ruskin wall sconces, in Aged Brass.
Wendy Ditcham of Wendy Ditcham Interiors was kind enough to put the whole beautiful thing into an Instagram post you can swipe or click through.
HB: 97) Swing-Arm Lamps: Exceedingly handsome and functional.
HVL: We concur on both points. They have a way of feeling crisp and contemporary while they're undoubtedly a traditional item. For some reason, they just won't go out of style. When design merges form and function, that tends to be the result.
Ours are available with wire guards in the form of metal tubing matching the piece.
A swing-arm lamp is a great item to have in a study or a home office, where they can turn limited space into a nice little work area or come within reach of a favored resting place, transitioning from accent light to task light for reading with a pull on its hinged arm. They also work great in spacious master bedrooms, as was the case with this one Tobi Fairley designed. (To see more of this room and learn more about it, check out our post on striking a balance between you and your partner's taste, "Cohabitating & Decorating.")
Some of our swing-arrm wall sconces with wire guards: Englewood, Roslyn, Stanley
HB: 111) Sunburst Mirrors
HVL: Word. They really don’t seem to ever go out of style, do they? The texture, the gold, the way that space infuses a propulsive sense of energy into the room. Complement it with a sconce that has a sunburst backplate, like Borland or Empire.
HB: 117) Flea-market finds.
HVL: Founder David Littman formed his love for interior décor objects in part by perusing flea markets and antique fairs with his mother, learning how to identify quality. He and business partners such as HVL VP Brent Fields still scour flea markets and antique stores across the world, looking for items that will spark new ideas for lighting fixtures. A recent example is Cresson, based on an antique side-table discovered at a Paris flea market.
HB: 112) Future Heirlooms: Timeless and built to last—you’ll pass them down to the next generation or three.
HVL: That’s the idea here. It’s what we build our brand on. Our Heirloom Collection may be the only one to spell it out in its name, but all of our fixtures are created to future-heirloom specifications. We believe in quality items—quality you can feel and quality you can see. When you buy a Hudson Valley Lighting fixture, you are not just getting something to make your living space more beautiful for now—you are investing in a family heirloom to light your many days and pass down to your children or someone else. Each piece we make is a future heirloom.
Number 34 on their list was “A Library of Old HBs (Pages fade but pretty rooms and bright ideas last forever).” If you have this, then you can go dig out the November 2016 issue and check the whole thing out. It was really done beautifully, and there are a hundred more items from this list we didn’t mention here.