Designing the lighting for your two-story foyer is more than simply picking out a particular style and finish. It has a lot to do with staging. You want to impart a warm welcome from both the outside and the interior, and spotlight your decor style. You definitely want a dramatic chandelier, but don't let that be the only light source. Consider pendants, wall sconces, rope lighting and table lamps.
If you are more comfortable being conventional, then choose a brass or wrought iron chandelier for your traditional or Colonial home. If you are not bound by convention, be eclectic by blending styles and materials. If you want to go way out, opt for a Dale Chihuly chandelier; or if you cannot afford one, commission a local glass artist to create one for you, or find a very modern fixture at your lighting store.
A too-small chandelier will get lost in a commodious, soaring entry, and one too big will overwhelm the space. As a general guideline that all lighting contractors follow, add the length of the room to its width, and the sum will indicate what diameter the chandelier should be. For example, if the foyer is 15 feet by 8 feet, the sum is 23 feet. Convert that to 23 inches, and you will have the correct-size fixture.
How Tall, Where to Hang and How High
Choose a chandelier that has enough tiers to dominate the height of the foyer. If a two-tier chandelier is recommended for an 8-foot ceiling, then a four-tier chandelier is correct for a two-story or 18-foot-high foyer. If your foyer has a window over the door, be sure to center your light so that it can be seen from outside. The bottom of a two-story foyer chandelier should be 8 feet from the floor.
Other Foyer Illumination
Since a chandelier provides only downlighting, which diffuses as it descends from its source, install wall sconces between 60 and 65 inches from the floor at 6 to 10 feet intervals to provide uplighting that softly illuminates your foyer and accents your furnishings. If you have a console table in your foyer, place a coordinating table lamp on it. Accent your elegant stairway by entwining it with rope lighting. Add pendant lighting on the second story to light the way.
The industry standard for determining the amount of light or wattage needed is to multiply the foyer's length by its width and then multiply the product by 1.5. For example, if your foyer is 12 feet by 16 feet, you would need 288 watts of illumination, or an 8-light chandelier with 40-watt bulbs. If you use other light sources, lower the wattage in the bulbs. Select clear bulbs to add shimmer to a chandelier or frosted bulbs under light shades. Use a dimmer to control the amount of light.
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