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Advice for HomeownersBefore and AfterDecorating My HomeHallways

Don’t Make This Mistake with Your Lantern Chandelier

By 10/22/2011February 20th, 201739 Comments

I am kind of a virgin when it comes to shopping on-line.  I pretty much have only ever bought books. Every time I have found something great that I wanted, by the time I get to the check-out and they add in the Canadian dollar exchange with the exorbitant shipping costs to get it across the border, well, it’s just not worth it anymore.

I love this light too (image via nest egg)

I am quite envious of all you Americans who have such easy shopping for you and your clients from the comfort of your PJs. Anyway, here is my first on-line purchase story (which I am embarrassed to tell you I should mention):

I have been looking for a chandelier for my dining room since we moved in 1 1/2 years ago in May. After going through all the possibilities and shopping the lighting stores in town off and on for all this time, I finally settled on a lantern chandelier and could not find one locally. One day I came across this dining room by Samantha Pynn.

Samantha Pynn

I spent over an hour looking at lighting sites trying to find this lantern and then thought, “This is a needle in a haystack and I don’t have time for this.” So I posted the image on my Facebook Fan Page and within minutes, someone said, “It’s Robert Abby” (thank you so much!)

So I found the chandelier and miraculously, free shipping to Canada.

It came in three sizes and this one was 16″ wide. The smaller one was 10″ and that was too small and  16″ wide for a regular chandelier is not very big, right? But when you measure 16″ SQUARE, (which is what I should have done) that is a BIG chandelier. As I discovered when opened the very large box after it arrived. My face turned flaming red as I opened it, I was so embarrassed (Irene was with me).

So, as luck turns out, it was perfect for my entry (and replaced this hideous gold one) so it all ended well. Except I’m still at square one for my dining room chandelier.

Taken during the day (ignore the colour, entry not painted yet!)

Photo taken without natural light

Okay, so my entry hall is double story height and does not have art in it, and would look the best taken without the lights on, but I don’t have a skylight for much natural light. As for the 70s railing, I rent, so it’s staying.

So there is my first on-line shopping story, do you have any good ones to share?

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Related posts:

How Often do you buy Flatware?

Maria’s new Sideboard and Art for the Dining Room

How to Decorate underneath a Console

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  • Eliesa says:

    Love, love, love the new lantern! I burst out laughing at your hideous, gold chandelier because that’s exactly the ones we have in our new place that I just repainted. For now, we have to keep them, but I can’t wait to replace them. With all things, I am way too worried that I’ll pick the wrong new ones. Baby steps…

    • Yvette Kelley says:

      Eleisa, they actually look great painted black with
      leopard lampshades for the right room.

      • Eliesa says:

        Ooh… that sounds funky! Unfortunately, they are in our foyer and dining room, and both rooms are more traditional. I’ve seen them painted all kinds of colors with really fun lampshades. I wish I was a little more daring – maybe in my office? 🙂

  • Aurora says:

    I think everyone has an embarrassing online shopping experience!!

    Mine was with an eBay purchase…and I’m sorry to say that I’d been shopping on eBay (not to mention online!) for several years at that point, so I really don’t have any excuse–BUT–

    I was searching for art nouveau busts (since I collect art nouveau antiques)–and one of the things that came up was a GOLD plaster statue of a nude woman, kneeling.

    It wasn’t art nouveau, by any means–it was probably from the 40’s at the very earliest–not my scene at all–but the ad showed many angles of the statue, and from one angle, the line running from the curve of the woman’s upswept hair, down her neck, to her nubile behind, and then down to the backs of her toes, was so graceful, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

    But it was so GOLD–and I simply DON’T do gold–EVER. Over and over again, I argued against it–wrong era, wrong color–but I couldn’t get past my fascination with it.

    Finally, I succombed–I told myself that a small gold statue tucked in among all my plants would add a spicy dash of color, or some such thing–and I bought it. I reread the description, where it clearly stated that it was 24″ tall, and I bought it…all the while, imagining that it was about 8″ tall.

    When it showed up–I almost fell over! The box was HUGE…and when I pulled out all the bubble wrap, I realized that 28″ is more thanTWO FEET–which is NOTHING LIKE 8″.

    In short, my spicy dash of color was nothing of the sort–instead, it was a giant, naked, gold, IDOL. It was so very large and GOLD. And a kneeling naked woman is very artistic when she’s 8″ tall, but when she’s almost half MY size, it’s downright disturbing! Also, when you turn her around, so you can see the pretty lines, you’re also seeing a very large, naked BEHIND–which is also disturbing.

    Since I’d paid $50 for her, I was darn well going to use her–so I put her in my bathroom, on a little shelf behind the toilet, and I gamely turned her face to the wall, so the sinuous “S” down her back showed off properly…but no one was really fooled. Guests would come out of my bathroom asking why I had a gold naked woman’s heiney on display…

    When I accidentally knocked her off the shelf a couple of years later, slicing her in two–in such a way that it was impossible to mend her, I was secretly relieved.

    She DID have lovely lines, but in this case, size DEFINITELY mattered! (Now, when I shop, I keep a measuring tape next to me, so I can verify sizes!! :))

  • Kathi says:

    It was meant to be, the chandelier is perfect for that tall foyer,would have been harder to pick that out than a dining room light, so you are ahead at this point-just bought online wood table and chairs from Pottery Barn for my 18 mo old grandson-yikes-his feet are dangling-he can probably use the table and chairs until he is 9 yrs old-it didn’t look that big in the picture! Its beautiful,tho so they want to keep it!

  • DAS says:

    The new lantern has panache. I love the lines of top chandelier as well (and noticed the silver version is on sale for $500 something).

    I moved to the other side of the country (literally IN the country) with no resources having lived in L.A. with all resources.

    I purchased the basics [tile, faucets, appliances, lighting etc] for my new home on the internet except two bathtubs, frig, granite with free shipping and no tax (which was the point). I almost purchased my granite online, but that’s another story. I spent six months tweaking the details and researching the products.

    No problems with the purchases except the price of the Electrolux Double Ovens (the ball bearing glides are heaven). I had priced out the ovens online and did not realize I had found a rare introductory offer for just a certain period of time. Even though the offer expired A.J. Madison gave me the ovens for $900.

    Downside, Kohler faucets stolen at the building site.


  • I am glad the chandelier was put to use (looks great) and by the way the railing on the stairs is absolutely charming.

  • Nancy says:

    Oh that looks great Maria! So happy that it worked at least worked out for the hallway. I’ve been looking for a dining room light for 2 years so I know your pain.

  • Glad you were flexible in finding another location for your chandelier. Looks great in your entry. So far I’ve had great results with shopping on line, but I’ve never purchased lighting online. This story will remind me to order with care. Measure twice, order once?

  • The first chairs I purchased on the internet were much bigger than I had figured — luckily they still worked for my clients space! It helps to remember when looking at measurements on furniture which measurement (height/width/depth) is which! When you see a number like 35″x39″x32″ it can be confusing! (standard order is width/depth/height)!

  • kathy says:

    I trust you’ve heard of
    it’s a godsend when looking for what you want in your home,
    lighting, etc.
    if you haven’t found out about it yet…you are in for a major treat…
    Kathy~A Point of Hue

  • Lesli says:

    Congrats on your internet purchase and its final landing place. when I first saw it I thought… “OOOOH THAT is waht I have been wanting to get for the foyer!” and then…that is where yours went!!!!
    It looks like it was MEANT to be there.

  • Judy says:

    Try shopping online at Lighting New York. They beat everyone’s prices with their specials – you have to phone their office to get their best price, which is far below what’s posted online.

    I found a beautiful chandelier at a local store. Then looked online – two stores sold it, and LNY beat the other guy’s price by nearly $100.

    I was skeptical until the light arrived, and it was perfect. And no, I don’t work for LNY but I’m a big fan now.

  • susan mccarthy says:

    I lam looking for an old gold chandelier. Any one interested in selling theirs, please contact me. One man’s old hideous chandelier is another man’s perfect chandelier, or something like that.
    Mariam, you are getting closer to finding yours. S

    • Michele says:

      I’m with you- I love the old gold ball williamsburg style chandeliers and in May, pulled out my modern fixtures in favor of returning to these traditional ‘necklaces’ for the ceiling. Lots of bling and so pretty against all of the blues and greys we’re seeing. I’m no oracle- but I see them coming back in a big way. Anybody else think so too?

  • Marlenda says:

    I had to laugh at this post – I recently did the same thing. I had been searching for lanterns (AFFORDABLE ones) for months to hang over our kitchen island and finally found a model that I liked that was priced right. I read the dimensions and thought they were large, but all of the reviews for the item stated that the customers had bought the lanterns for over a table or an island and that they loved them. You obviously know how I felt when I unboxed them! Fortunately we had not bought any light fixtures for the great room and foyer which both have 20 foot ceilings so we were able to use them (good thing, since the return shipping costs would have been astronomical).

  • Janice says:

    Love the new chandelier .. I also wonder if you spray painted the other one in some funky color or just black it might look pretty darn good as well 🙂

    • Eliesa says:

      I have two that are very similar to her old one (ours have little leaves on them, other than that they are identical), and I just spray painted them with Rust-oleum’s satin nickel. I like them much better now. I would have gone black, but in our space, it would have been too harsh.

  • Tricia says:

    It was meant to be. The lantern looks great in the foyer and makes the railing look good too. My on line lighting buy was a disaster. I bought two lights that mounted to the wall and were to hang over a menu board in a restaurant. Turns out they needed some special kind of connection to be wired properly. That information was on site but it was tucked into a paragraph of small print. I felt it should have been in RED and LARGE to avoid disappointing a customer.

  • Barbara says:

    I think we’ve all had on line horror stories. This could have certainly ended up worse! Buying new, vs. EBay usually is safer for me. As long as its returnable, I feel better. It really is a great luxury though to click and buy. The on-line sites keep getting better too!

  • Mary says:

    I normally don’t have surprises when I order on-line.
    But I ordered my first rug for our bedroom last week & I’m waiting for it to arrive. I’m scared how it will look compared to how it looked on my computer screen. Returning things can get expensive.

  • Cathy says:

    Maria, I had to order a number of pendent lights for our beach house, which was under construction so I only had the floor plans to go off of!!
    What helped me size the pendents appropriately was, in addition to other more intuitive measures: 1.) drawing the dimensioned light fixture to scale on the table in floor plan. 2.) I also used the following “rules” which helped me alot with deciding on approximate sizing:
    Chandelier over a table: bottom of light fixture should be 30″ over table, if your ceiling is higher than 8′-0″ the distance can increase slightly, and the diameter of the light fixture should be about half the width of the table.

    Chandelier for foyer/room: add the dimensions of the room to figure the diameter of the light fixture. For example: a 14′ x 16′ room/foyer would require approx. a 30″ diameter light (14 + 16 = 30)

    I’m fairly analytical so am always looking for the “rules” to back up my desires! Good luck with your lighting! I love Visual Comfort’s light fixtures, but don’t know how they’d ship to Canada…

  • Love the lantern light, Maria, and way to go with making it work somewhere in your space!

    I’ve been mostly very lucky w/ordering US items online; I really like the CSN stores (their service & return policy are outstanding).

    I found most of the lighting in my home at their online lighting store, most at a fraction of the cost the same lights are sold in stores.

    I have them shipped to Point Roberts. It’s a bit of a pain to drive down there and retrieve, so I make sure I buy 2-3 items to make the trip worthwhile (and the gas is way cheaper than here, so I make sure I get a tank of gas out of it too!). 😉

    Just an encouragement to not give up on the online US shopping thing. Good luck w/your dining rm light! Keep up the great work, Liz

  • Carol@sofasandsage says:

    Hi Maria. It was just what the stairway needed and I’m sure that’s what u intended all along! By the way? I love that your readers can reply to individual comments. It’s great.

  • Brenda says:

    I am from Canada and have had lots of light fixtures shipped from Visual Comfort. You cannot order online, they have an international sales rep. Then you have to set up an account with them. Because I am not a professional designer it was a bit different set up, whereas you Maria, being a professional, would set up a tradesperson account. You would probably get a discounted price. Anyway, once you jump through that hoop, you then have to find a broker who will clear the shipment through customs. Another account to set up, but once you do it, it is a piece of cake. I have never seen light fixtures so well packaged! I did receive one that had a manufacturers defect so I took a picture of the part on my iPhone and emailed it to the sales rep and they were able to track the part down and shipped it for free. Excellent customer service. But by the time you pay for shipping, duty, brokerage, etc, it is about 60% higher cost than the lretail price. And I have never had to return anything, thank goodness because I don’t know how that would work. So that is my experience! The quality is amazing but you’d better LOVE it because there’s no going back!

  • Bless your heart! LOL
    Just call it serendipity. It looks fab in the foyer.
    Lamps Plus might be a possible source for you. They have so many different companies represented surely one would be reasonable for Canada. We face the same issue in the US when we live on the east coast and want to order from California. Not feasible.

  • Overall, I’ve had really good luck ordering online. I even order furniture, although not really big pieces. – I inherited one of those brass chandeliers in my dining room, it’s a double tier. I haven’t found another one that I like, that I can also afford, so in the meantime I hung some strands of crystal beads and pendants on it. All the sparkly stuff distracts from the outdated light fixture.

  • Marla says:

    I saw a chandelier I liked on DesignSponge. I googled the Spanish design firm, and saw one I just loved. I then googled that design, finding it in the US for $900. A bit steep for my entry. I measured three times, made up a little model of it, and hung it in the entry to be certain about the size. I kept searching online, and then saw a vendor on EBay who had it, for $500. I phoned him, he hadn’t made a sale for 5 months on EBay, and sold it to me, including shipping, for $200. I admit I held my breath until it arrived. I’d forwarded all the specs to a good electrician, who said he was confident he could wire anything I bought. It came, on the date promised, and I loved it. It took the electrician 35 minutes to install it, including touching up the paint! It was my boldest online purchase, and I am just delighted every tine I look at it.

  • Brenda says:

    Maria, glad you were able to find another spot for your lantern. If it is any consolation, its l-o-v-i-l-e-e and well worth the embarrassment. 🙂
    As far as online shopping I’ve had some good and bad experiences. The latter where shipping and taxes exceeded the product. Duh! Lesson learned!
    P.S: I wish more U.S. companies would register with ‘Canada Post Border Free Shopping’. (Sigh)

  • Well..alls well that ends well! I like the new lantern a lot and how great is that that you could use it in your entry way!

    Size is the biggest problem in shopping online. That story about the naked gold statue was pretty funny. Yipes! We’ve been shopping online so long that I can’t remember any problems except not reading the fine print about shipping. I think I really go jipped with that one. It was almost as much as the product. I learned that lesson the hard way!

  • Amy says:

    Love looking to you for ideas when selecting things for my home. Lighting is so difficult!!! Foyer lighting especially. I love this fixture you have chosen for your foyer. I would love for you to blog sometime about how to chosen light fixtures… especially finishes & timeless styles for ceiling fixtures. And for lamps how large and what color and shape? Thank you so much for sharing your blog with us!!

  • Carol says:

    Here’s something cool to try on your lanterns: linen shades! I found XS size shades in off-white at Lowe’s for $4.99 each, used them on the candlebulbs, they look fabulous. Much more beautiful quality of light. Just keep the bulbs 40 watts or less.

  • Karen says:

    I have a shelf in my staircase like the one in this photo. I know you no longer live in this rental, but do you have thoughts/advice on how to decorate a shelf like this, set against a large wall? I can’t figure out what to put in this space.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Well the way I decorated mine would be my best suggestion. A fiddle leaf fig would work too in a nice big pot so there’s no danger of a water stain. Maria

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