One Common Decorating Mistake {it’s an easy fix}


A comment someone made on facebook (after I posted this) prompted me to write in more detail about one common decorating mistake.

A single source of light mounted flush to the ceiling in the middle of the room.


Or a flush-mount ceiling fixture.

You know what I mean;

something like this.

one common decorating mistake

Forgive me, I don’t mean to be crass (not on this blog anyway–lol) but they are fondly known in the industry as “boob lights.” They are cheap boobs, too. They look cheap (do they really think that looks like alabaster? hahaha!) and even worse, the light they give off— sucks. It is cold and creates unpleasant shadows and glare. The only exception is if they are in a very small space or narrow hall.


Because light loves to bounce and if it has nothing to bounce off of, it gets stuck. The more places it can bounce from, the better. So, a light that can bounce up, out and down is going to give you a better result.

Quite frankly, if we are talking about a bedroom or a living type room, you do not need these type of lights. (unless you have more than one)They fare better in halls and small rooms like baths and laundry rooms. However, in most cases, where the ceiling doesn’t permit more than a drop of 18″, I prefer a semi-flushmount which has a drop of some sort away from the ceiling. The advantage to a fixture with a drop is that it usually has the chance to bounce up, which then bounces the light back down which bounces the light back up and then out and back which bounces the light back. In other words, you get a lot of bouncing light from all different directions which is what you want. The same principle holds true with table and floor lamps, most sconces, and chandeliers.

Still… for some reason, (habit?) we still often put up that lonely single  flushmounted boob on our ceiling and it’s insufficient, harsh and glary. The light will not reach way into the corners and the corners are what need to be lit. If you light the corners, you will not need anything in the center because the light will bleed out into the center!

Here are some of my favorites and/or interesting or popular fixtures that I want to share with you to explain better.


Here is a popular drum-type semi-flush mount. And here are some close-ups of this type of transitional fixture.


Here is the Quoizel Downtown Semi Flush Mount which is available at many online sources for about $250.00/ea.


This one is only $56 bucks– wow!!!


from Crystoramatroylighting

Troy Lighting


The light can’t come out at the sides on this one, but I still think it’s very sophisticated. I could see it in a library or a more masculine-type room and with sconces, and/or table lamps. From Circa Lightingsemiasian

no idea where this is from. But, it’s Chinoiserie. I could see it possibly in a bathroom or an entry way.hamptonbabyhomedepot

I think that this light is seriously cool and I’m pretty blown away that it’s from Home Depot. And it’s only $129.00! The finish might be a bit flat, but one could take a little craft paint and take care of that. This fixture could go ANYWHERE!


Here  is the perennial favorite schoolhouse fixture in a flush mount version. Usually, it hangs down in pendant form, but this is a great solution for a lower ceiling or if it’s not going over a counter or table. From Circa Lighting and  it comes in several different finishes.


Sorry, I don’t know where this is from, but it’s a flush-mount version of the onion lantern. Sometimes these fixtures are also in a wall version which I have done before and they are sensational looking!


This is a classic Bell lantern and this one is from Shades of Light


Here is another version


Here is a bit more expensive version of this classic fixture by Thomas O’Brien for Circa Lighting


Robert Abbey’s Bling semi-flush mount. These look great in bathrooms or halls. Very stylish and they give off a gorgeous light! They are available at many sources.



Okay… Yes, a true flush-mount and it doesn’t even have any lighting on the sides. But… it’s about the most stylish flush-mount I’ve ever seen and a client of mine ordered one for her bedroom from Circa Lighting and the natural brass finish is gorgeous!


The Chisholm Passage Square fixture from Urban Electric. It comes in a ton of different finishes and I believe that you can also order it in a custom painted finish!!! Love that!



Beautifully lit hallway with flush-mounts. Halls are different because the light doesn’t have far to go to bounce back and there are three fixtures, not only one.


What a charming laundry room with a very popular fixture designed by the wonderful Thomas O’Brien for Circa Lighting. It comes in a variety of finishes and also comes in a pendant version. I see them a lot in kitchens.





Alecia Stevens


here is a reflection of two pendant versions in a kitchen window


No, that’s not a flush mount, but the hanging version of one of my favorite fixtures. It’s very versatile and really can go in so many places. They come in many different sizes and finishes and with clear or opaque glass. It is called a Moravian Star pendant and they are not terribly expensive.


Brushed nickel Moravian Star ceiling light from Shades of Light.




Ceiling painted by decorative artist Chris Pearson. Can you stand it? I can’t tell you how much I love the ceiling!


Lovely entry by Anisa Darnell

and that is it for now. Bracing for another storm tomorrow. I parked my car in the rip-off garage, this time. I do believe in karma, BTW… yeah. Tomorrow is 2.13. oh wait. It already IS tomorrow! It’s my beautiful brother, Don’s 65th birthday. He passed away unexpectedly at the age of 38 from  cardiac arrest (he was a runner) some 26 years ago. He’s always with me though. After he passed, I inherited a bit of money and with it, I enrolled at the New York School of Interior Design back in 1988. Sometimes our darkest moments turn out to be some of our greatest blessings.

Much love to all,


 In loving memory of Donald Irving Bern  February 13, 1949 – September 11, 1987

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Arrianna Jayson - May 19, 2017 - 5:32 AM

    I need some help with a lighting question.Himalayan salt lamps became quite popular this yea. So I did some research on these lamps. It’s not surprising, as they purify the air. As the lamps are made from a natural resource, they also help boost our energy levels. If we decorate our house with Himalayan salt lamps then it will provide us indoor lighting with a healthy environment. So my question is, my house is white and what color of the Himalayan salt lamp will suit my house. Himalayan salt lamps can be found in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. will you recommend me one?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 19, 2017 - 5:41 PM


      How strange since you business based on the URL you attempted to link to indicates that you are in the business of selling the lamps. The only reason I didn’t send it directly to spam is to say that I own 7 of the so-called air purifiers (for 5 full months) and they don’t do diddly-squat to clean the air. In other words. It’s a bunch of hokum.

      They are pretty to look at and that’s about it.ReplyCancel

  • Anastasia Resnik - April 4, 2017 - 9:35 PM

    I love the Moravian Star hanging fixtures. We have installed three in our home. I’ve found that they tend to get dusty on the inside. Do you have any tips for cleaning them? The way the socket is situated inside the star makes it difficult to take down and submerge in water in order to clean properly. I’ve used the end of a wooden spoon with a dusting cloth banded to it, but that doesn’t get them as clean as I would like. Any tips would be most helpful!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 4, 2017 - 10:22 PM

      Hi Anastasia,

      I love them too! I’m sorry, I wish I could help you out with the maintenance, but cleaning is not my forte. lol ReplyCancel

  • Pam - October 22, 2016 - 2:16 PM

    This is a great post, very informative! It just so happens I bought the lovely brass Circa Lighting flush-mount shown for my small entryway. (Ceiling is lower than the rest of the house.) Problem is (and I hadn’t read this article yet, darn it), the light only goes downward and it’s not attractive at all when lit. You can’t see the brass sides at all at night! I love it during the day, but at night not so much. I think I may need to move it to a room where it won’t be turned on much (or the room has other light sources).ReplyCancel

  • Alycia - April 9, 2016 - 4:39 PM

    I need some help with a lighting question. I have a small nursery that is a converted alcove, with no windows, the ceiling height is about 7 1/2 or 8 feet. The room always feels so dark and dreary…we’ve got the boob lighting as you called it. I’m not sure if a semi-flush light will be too low, if I’ve got tall family members. The semi-flush mount you mentioned up above from Home Depot is great, but it has a height of 16.5″. Would you mind making some recommendations as far as semi-flush or flush mounting that might over more lighting?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2016 - 4:50 PM

      Hi Alycia,

      The term boob light is not one I made up, just so you know. The semi-flush is better, but I’m not sure it’ll make that much of a difference. The best for you, I think is two small table lamps somewhere. Maybe there’s a chair where you nurse. If there is not room for a table, then it could be a floor lamp. A floor lamp with a white or cream shade. Wisteria makes THE smallest floor lamp ever. It takes up no space at all.

      You do not need more than 60 watts and less if you using the new energy-saving light bulbs. If there is a small chest, there could be a lamp on top of that and that would be all you would need for a small space, assuming the chair and the chest are not right next to each other.

      The other thing you can do is add a couple of wall sconces, but that is trickier because you need an electrician to snake the wires behind the wall.ReplyCancel

      • Alycia - April 9, 2016 - 4:58 PM

        Thank you so much that is so helpful!!ReplyCancel

  • Sandra McQuirk-Linus - February 4, 2015 - 5:45 PM

    I just found your website on Pinterest today, and absolutely love your “educational” articles about color and design. I want to keep watching and learning from you. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Loi Thai - Tone on Tone - February 13, 2014 - 1:38 PM

    So funny! No I don’t want one of those boob lights!! Hope you are staying warm. We got over 12″ of snow!!!! So ready for spring!ReplyCancel