Three Oversized Lantern Lights For The Hallway

From moment one of seeing this house, something about the view of a series of three lights all in a row(ish) in the upstairs hallway made us inexplicably excited. Just call it “the tri-light zone” effect. We just knew that arrangement had serious potential. You know, once we looked past the old carpeting and the blue trim.

The existing lights were a little undersized for us (pictures don’t do it justice, but this is a 33 foot long hallway!), so although we considered spray painting them another color (oil-rubbed bronze? red? navy?), I worried it’d make them look a bit more gothic cathedral than we wanted. Plus, all three of them were crooked, one of them had a broken stem, and the middle one was actually bigger than the other two.

I’ve had these fixtures mentally bookmarked for years. Ever since we saw them in a House Crashing that we did in Portland, OR in 2012 I’ve wanted to work them into our home somehow. I like that they’re a mix of classic and modern, and that their dark finish offers some nice contrast but isn’t too heavy looking thanks to all the glass. The good news is that Sherry was with me (we don’t always agree on lights, so sometimes finding something we both like takes a while). The only issue was that the $250 price tag was a bit much for us since we’d need to buy three of them.

We hoped to find something similar at a local lighting outlet that we frequent (and even checked craigslist and the ReStore occasionally) but coming by three identical fixtures was tough. Then Sherry got an email alert about a World Market sale (25% off orders over $150) which lead her to these puppies – and we realized that after the sale they’d be $75 each, which means we could buy all three for less than the price of our single inspiration fixture.

Normally I wouldn’t take you through the installation process again, since I feel like I’ve done lots of posts like these – but I actually picked up a couple of tricks (albeit small ones) from observing the electrician work his magic at the showhouse. Trick #1 being leave the protective packaging on during installation. I guess I’ve always been so eager to unveil our new purchases that the first thing I usually did was strip away all of the plastic, cardboard and styrofoam. But I had a “well duh!” moment watching the electrician leave it all on (well, whatever didn’t interfere with installing it) to help prevent any damage while he worked. Of course he took it off before firing up the power and adding a bulb, but just hanging them with the added protection felt a lot better than rushing to strip it before manhandling things into place.

Obviously I would’ve loved to let these babies hang down on their chains a bit, but our 8ft ceilings weren’t gonna let it happen. So we had to shorten the chain by prying the links open with two pairs of pliers, the tips of which I wrapped in masking tape to keep them from scratching the finish off.

The previous lighting had been a bit low for my 6-foot self (well, the middle one outside of Clara’s room was – since that lantern was inexplicably larger than the other two), so we decided to hang the new lights by just one chain link – which would put them all a couple inches higher than that old middle light (it hung about 75″ from the ground). So even though these are larger scale fixtures, the bottom of each lantern ended up being 77″ from the floor after installation.

But back to the single link method. I kept one link handy, but left a longer string on the fixture for the time being. More on that in a minute.

In addition to shortening the chain, I had to shorten the cord. So using my wire cutters I cut open the wire cover, pulled it off, and then stripped the ends of the white, black, and green wires.

With Sherry supporting the fixture, I connected the wires to the matching ones in the ceiling. Sorry for the grainy pic, but we had the power off so lighting was limited up there.

The second trick I picked up was to hang the fixture low and then raise it to your final desired height. With most light fixtures it’s much easier to raise them (by removing chain or feeding more wire into the ceiling) than to make them lower, especially if you’ve already cut your wire. So not only is this an easier way to get your perfect height, in our case it made installation much easier because Sherry didn’t have to hold the light as high and I wasn’t wiring in such a cramped space between the fixture and the ceiling.

Once everything was secured, I swapped out the long chain for the my single link and pushed the excess wire up into the canopy. You can see my screwdriver tightening the screw that pinches the wire in place.

It still took a fair amount of time to get all three installed. Maybe 3 hours? I always have a tough time guessing since I’m slowed down by photo taking and, in this case, fielding showhouse calls. But in the end we love the result.

Just like the light in our foyer downstairs, we really like the high contrast look that these add. Even the way they tie into the dark door hinges, doorknobs, and the stained stair rail and runner that lead downstairs seems to make things feel more deliberate. They’re a bit oversized for the space, which may bother some folks – but it’s kinda what I dig most about them.

Adding some substantial wainscoting, interesting art, and other hallway updates should definitely bring more balance. So here’s our remaining to-do list:

  • Reinstall & maybe modify the doors in front of the laundry area
  • Add crown molding (not looking forward to those angles!)
  • Add some nice thick wainscoting (it’ll bring more substance to the bottom half of the hallway)
  • Get some art going on

Just for fun, here’s a hallway before shot for comparison.

In the function column, I feared that it might be a little darker (going from three 3-bulb fixtures to three single bulbs), but these take a higher wattage (60 instead of 40) and somehow the glass seems to reflect so much that it actually feels brighter. Could also be that half of the old bulbs were burned out too, so there’s that.

Here’s how things look with the clear bulbs that came with the fixtures when they’re on. They throw some angular shadows on the ceiling, but if we want less of that look we can switch them out for frosted bulbs (eventually we’d love to get LEDs in every fixture).

Anyone else have hall happenings to share? It’s weird that those “not real rooms” in the house can end up being the ones you spend a ton of time passing through, so they make a surprising difference when you show them a little attention.


    • says

      I know! As hard as I try, I just don’t think Hubs and I will ever be as witty as you with our post titles. Let us in on the secret…do you come up with these in everyday conversation while working (as in, by accident) or do you sit and brainstorm the best post title while writing until you get a witty pun that’s classy and relevant? If you all are just naturally that funny, it’s going to make me want to be your real life best friends even more!!

    • says

      I think we are just corny and puns pop into our heads sometimes, but a lot if our posts end up being sort of straight (like “from the curb to the office” or “some overdue office organization”) so we’re not always on the ball. Haha!


  1. Samantha says

    I love the lines the shadows cast on the walls! May not be everyone’s cup of tea but I think it adds so much interest to the space!

    • says

      We go back and forth on the length of the hallway. Nice to walk through, but it takes forever to lay flooring/paint/etc. That angled wall was no joke when we were installing the hardwoods plank by plank. Haha!


    • says

      Can’t wait to see it. Do you think the wainscoting would be too busy with the angles of the hallway? Wonder if that’s something you could photoshop. I can’t get over how gorgeous the hardwood is up there!

  2. says

    I like this post. I think the thing I appreciate most about you guys is that you talk through the challenges of DIY so we get a great glimpse of what it really takes to do the work.I’m thinking more of the concrete countertops here, but this is nice because you mentioned the significant time investment for installing a fixture that LOOKS pretty strightforward. Thank you.

  3. Meg says

    I actually really like the shadows the lights cast around the hallway. It adds an ephemeral architectural-ish detail to the ceiling (without going all permanent with molding and such). Nice.

  4. Rosemary says

    You are so right about paying attention to the spaces you pass through a dozen times a day – these spaces somehow set the tone for the whole house. We have the same sort of set-up with the bedrooms off a hallway, and we put our 2 light fixtures on dimmers, so that when we had to turn them on at night when the kids were little, we were not blinded by the brightness. Thanks for your great blog, I just love it!

  5. Karen says

    As usual, stunning! I love your blog, even though I am probably one of your oldest admirers. You two are amazing! Best of luck with your new little one. I can’t wait until he introduced to all of your fans! Also, could your Clara be any sweeter?

    As I follow you, all I can imagine is how proud your parents’ must be of what you have and are accomplishing.

  6. Emily says

    They look great! I can see wanting to upgrade to LEDs at some point, but why not CFLs in the meantime? They’re in between in price, and you can often get them super cheap with rebates/discounts from your utility.

    • says

      Thanks Emily, we have a bunch of those under the sink that we could sub in! We use them in about 50% of the house so far, but have been hoping to slowly transition to LEDs eventually just due to the whole mercury-when-broken thing.


    • Lynne says

      CFL’s drive me nuts! I have them in my hallways right now, and they are so dim when I first turn them on! It takes forever for them to come up to full light. I got one that claimed to be ‘bright from the start’ (clever, no?), but while it starts off bright enough, it actually dims after a couple minutes. So annoying! I am slowly trying to replace them all with LED’s.

    • says

      This doesn’t seem like a spot where the bulbs would be at all likely to get jostled and broken, though. A bigger concern is, how often do you switch them on and off? The CFLs wear out much faster when they’re switched on and off frequently, which is why they’re not the best choice for bathrooms or closets. (However, we use them in our bathrooms anyway, and they still last for years.)

    • says

      That’s a good point! I think I always worry about when I change them I might be up on a ladder and drop them, but so far I haven’t done that. Whew…


    • Sandra T says

      I once read that experts(!) were recommending that we change all of our lights to CFLs, and then someday to LEDs (this was when the LEDs first came out and were even more expensive, and not available in many sizes), but now they are just recommending to wait until you can afford it and replace any incandescents with LEDs. Yeah, the whole CFL thing was a bust! Btw, that last shot down the hallway looks great! I think the lights are a little over-sized, but it works. How about a pic with John standing underneath one to give us some perspective? :)

    • says

      So interesting! And as for scale/perspective, the pic above the blue-trim before shot shows the lantern bottom hitting right below the doorway to Clara’s room which is 80″ from the floor, so hopefully that helps keep things in scale. John is 72″ tall and the bottom of the light is 77″ from the floor :)


    • Julie says

      I am not a big fan of CFLs due to the amount of time they take to warm up (they drive me insane in my kitchen), the original twisty shape, and the color they give off. That said, due to the mercury, I refuse to replace them until they die.

      When I bought new lamps for my bedside table, I purchased some Cree LED bulbs at Home Depot and I am sold. They’re the first true energy efficient bulbs I’ve purchased that give off a beautiful light, they don’t require a warm up time, they work on a dimmer, and they’re pretty darn affordable!

    • Susan says

      CFLs are great in rooms where you’ll have on the light for extended periods of time so they do come up to full brightness. In our hall, it tends to be an ON until we move into one of the rooms, then OFF, so they were always dim. That was annoying so we skip CFLs there. Just what works for us!

  7. Rochelle Gorey says

    Hi guys. It looks great. You mentioned doing art up here. This is the perfect space to showcase you kids’ art. That’s what we have done with our upstairs hallway and we love it!!

  8. cappy says

    I was wondering…how tall are your ceilings? We have a very dark hall upstairs and I ended up putting a light fixture that did not work at all. It hung too low and had a cap on top that blocked light from going up -major duh moment for me. I love how your lights radiate up towards the ceiling and they look perfect in height too.

    • says

      Thanks so much Cappy! Our ceilings are standard height (well, technically they’re a few inches taller, like 8’2″). Isn’t that a funny quirk?


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