One Change That Will Set the Tone for Your Entire House

Want to make the one change that will set the tone for your entire house?  It’s actually pretty easy . . .

via Houzz


So many houses I enter have a builder grade entry fixture.   You know it needs updating, but after awhile you simply stop noticing it.  You continue to look away and buy pretty furniture and accessories for your home instead.  But every time someone comes in your front door, it’s there:  too small, brass, and hung too high.  Like this one that used to hang in the vaulted entry one of my client’s homes:

photo taken from 2nd floor – door is below the artwork


New entry lighting doesn’t have to be expensive – it just takes a little bargain hunting with an eye for on-trend design.  I found this updated entry light for my client for around $100 at Lowe’s.   And we hung it substantially lower this time – it looks better this way, and it provides better light to the space!

lowes lighting

Gorgeous inverted bell jar light fixture from Lowe’s


The stairway of this house suffered from the same malady as the entry hall – a small, sad, brass fixture in a vaulted stairwell:

too high, too small, too brass!


The solution for that malady was to find an updated fixture that coordinated with the entry fixture and was in the same finish (iron).  This is what I found:

better scale, timeless style!


I also installed a family gallery grouping down the stairwell, and we added a window seat where plants used to perch at the landing.  Much happier to ascend and descend this stairwell now!  Never underestimate the power of a good light fixture!


  1. joy

    yeah, those builder grade lights are ugly….I can’t understand a lot of people who spend thousands on a beautiful handbag and dress up beautifully but can tolerate a lamp like that on top of their head over the dining table everyday … it priority or something else?

    • Kristie Barnett

      I really think people just get to where you don’t “see” certain things in their own house anymore. They just don’t notice, or think it’s too much trouble to change out. But what a difference it makes! I’d definitely invest in THAT before I bought a new purse 😉

  2. patty

    our ceilings are low and the door is close to the light so we’re iimited with choices… we have the ugly brass/glass semi flush – think it falls about 8 inches from the ceiling… what to do? any thoughts would be appreciated.. thank you… patty

    • Kristie Barnett

      there are definitely limited choices in semi-flush mount lighting – with 8 ft ceilings, i think it’s fairly safe to do a 12-15 inch tall fixture, unless you have friends taller than 6 1/2 feet – and if you do, they are gonna know to duck through your doorway anyway!

  3. D

    If you ever want to see the small, ugly, brass foyer light phenomenon on overload, look at listings in the DC area. Never have I seen so many houses that are otherwise current, attractive properties with such outdated foyer lights. We’re only renting in the area, but I insist that we change the foyer light – even if the landlord wants us to put the old one up when we leave!

    And just a little thought for you: For high spaces like that that are impossible to reach, you may want to reconsider specifying styles that collect things. Those glass bells will be full of dead bugs and coated in dust in no time and it’s not easy to get up there! When we changed our foyer light in our last house, I intentionally chose a large scroll metal chandelier where nothing could collect.

    • Kristie Barnett

      haha – that’s true, diana! another reason to hang fixtures lower – so that you can get on a ladder and actually clean them every few years!

  4. Katie

    Ugh! I had that same brass fixture in one of my homes…XoXo

  5. Amy

    I know that foyer! Great work!

    • Amy

      Whoops – not foyer, stairwell! 🙂

  6. Kate Koch

    This may be a naive question but is there a do-it-yourself way to change out the light fixture in a two-story tall entry like those pictured without renting a scaffold? And, my father always told me that fixtures should only be changed by an electrician but now it occurs to me that with the advent of Lowe’s, Home Depot and do-it-yourself, are fixtures now made so that anyone can install them? Thank you for the inspiration, today and always!

  7. Mary

    Beautiful update with the new light fixtures and what timing with this post! I just sat down after spending the day replacing all the builder’s brass door knobs (14 doors) with satin nickel levers and you are correct, it makes a difference. I was hesitant to replace them because I thought it was hard to do but when I saw a demo of how to do it on The Nate Berkus show it looked so easy and I was inspired to give it a try. I’m so happy now that it’s done.

    And now that I’ve read your post about updating the light fixtures, those are next on my list. 🙂

  8. Clare

    Hi, Kristie,

    An entryway makes a first impression, and these are fabulous. I do have a question about what to do about photos, prints, and paintings that get “hit” by the direct sunlight streaming in from these big beautiful windows. I don’t want to damage the photos or artwork.

  9. Holly

    I’ve taken this tip in and will hold it with me forever – never skimp on lighting! So when we buy our new house at some point I know it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye out for. That and pinky beige carpet too – I’m hooked.

  10. Sheila@SZInteriors

    Definitely! I love both that you found, but that second one totally caught my attention! We just replaced a builder’s standard chandelier in the dining room with a ReStore find and fixer-upper. Every time I look at the new chandie it just makes me smile! 🙂

  11. Annie, bossy color

    MAJOR improvement!! You’re so right that people stop seeing things after a while. Good thing the Decorologist is here to help!


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