The Jewelry of the House

DSC_0312For many homeowners, light fixtures can be a burden of the worst kind: fragile, cumbersome and outdated. Thinking of dusting your grandmother’s crystal chandelier can seem daunting, and updating – practically impossible. Thankfully for Louisville, the folks at Brecher’s Lighting have shared their illuminating guide on home lighting, whether you’re starting from scratch or changing a bulb.

Julie Zinsmeister, an American Lighting Association (ALA) lighting specialist, has worked with Brecher’s for 18 years and is an expert on making the lighting process as simple as possible. Since lights are “the jewelry of the house,” as Zinsmeister says, it’s best to buy a fixture as the finishing touch.

In order to crown your furnished, painted home with a well-designed light, consider three key elements – room size, color and material – to find the perfect piece using Zinsmeister’s tips.

DSC_0310Room Size

Entering Brecher’s for the first time is a bit like entering the Hall of Mirrors – prisms gleam at every corner, and delicate crystals hang from every inch of the ceiling. The collection can easily overwhelm, but your home’s foyer shouldn’t; Zinsmeister advises taking ceiling height and room size into account before making a decision.

“You don’t want to have a fixture hang below 7 feet off the floor,” Zinsmeister says, “so people can easily walk underneath it.”

So how does that determine length of a hanging fixture? Zinsmeister has already done the math for you: With a standard 10-foot ceiling and a7-foot clearing for the light, that gives a maximum length of 36 inches from top to bottom for a fixture.

Doorway height is almost just as important in a foyer: “Eight-foot front doors have become very popular,” she relates, “so when the door opens, sometimes that light is right above the swing of the door.” In those instances, use the door height rather than the ceiling as the guide for length.


Susan Humphress Sizemore, a sales associate, asserts that “everything goes right now” for color and style. However, the battle of the traditional versus contemporary serves as an excellent guide for determining a fixture.

For a dining room with dark wood and furniture, Zinsmeister suggests a “long, linear fixture rather than a more traditional round fixture” to match a long, narrow dining table. For a kitchen farmhouse table, dark metals will create the perfect rustic look.

“Bronze would pull off dark floors and contrast a lighter color wall,” contends Zinsmeister. If a collection of dark tones seems too Gothic, rest assured that even dark fixtures can be open and inviting with the right accents.

If you prefer the “light and airy” aesthetic that Zinsmeister notes is becoming increasingly popular – perhaps a tile or lighter-floored dining area with white cabinets – take note of her key questions: “Is the dining area open to a kitchen? What is the hardware color?”

If you have nickel or chrome in the kitchen with a more traditional round table, opt for a nickel fixture with drum shades of clear glass or white. While the round silhouettes are a nod to traditional chandeliers, the clean, open shape of the drums will make the area transitional and contemporary.


Humphress Sizemore notes that when she began working at Brecher’s nearly 27 years ago, the trend was a varied “brass, brass or brass.” Now, a customer might find a wide range of contrasting styles from Pinterest or magazines and find exactly what their heart desires at the Louisville store, which carries over 100 vendors.

Zinsmeister explains that people’s tastes are now drifting to more contemporary styles. Rather than heavily ornate fixtures with dated orange or yellow glass, most homeowners want simplicity with clear or frosted glass, or sleek metals.

DSC_0295Of course, there are also those who want to revive traditional materials in a contemporary setting: “Brass is making a comeback, just in a different direction,” Zinsmeister says, noting that burnished or antique brass is beating out the old polished style for trendy yet rustic homes. “People like new fixtures that look old,” she describes.

For exterior fixtures, try cast aluminum, steel or a form of plastic instead of brass, which tarnishes easily outdoors.

Overall, softer finishes and warmer colors are safe bets for an inviting home. This applies to bulb temperature as well, which is just as important in creating the ideal ambiance. With LED lights, which Zinsmeister calls “the future of lighting,” temperatures range from cool blue-white tones to warm red-yellow tones. For a cozy living area, warmer is better: “People react better to reds,” she says, noting that the warm tinge in the light mimics fire. Daylight, on the other hand, is quite blue, which might be cooler than you expect indoors.

Lighting the Way

Whether your home is one light away from completion or you’re starting with floorplans – in which case, the employees at Brecher’s can work with builders, designers and remodelers to fit your needs – purchasing at Brecher’s is easy with the help of its well-trained associates.

As a well-established and well-respected company, it’s clear that Brecher’s keeps up with technology and stays on the forefront of design trends.

Established in 1866, Brecher’s Lighting is an emporium of fixtures for the casual home, the high-end home and any style of home in between. With knowledgeable employees determined to help you find your light in any price range for any kind of project, Brecher’s is sure to light up your home with ease. VT

By HALLIE BEARD, Contributing Writer