Outdoor Kitchen

Background: Durham Pendant Light, Customized for Wall Mounting

and foreground:

Lancaster Lantern

The push towards higher efficiency in lighting gives us some great options but certainly hasn’t simplified the choices. Dimming is not a good idea with every lamp type (ie Incandescent, Fluorescent, LED).

Here is our take on the current state. If you are using incandescent lamps, adding a dimmer is worth considering. You will save energy and increase your control over light output. For compact fluorescent, the specialized equipment required for dimming will be obsolete in a few years. LED is the future, but has not hit the mainstream yet.

Pros and cons for dimmers and lamp type:

  • Incandescent Lamp (Light Bulb)
    • Conventional dimmer will reduce electricity consumption and will increase lamp life.
    • Frequent on/off switching WILL NOT reduce lamp life.
    • No warm up time.
  • CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp)
    • Requires special dimmers and special dimmable lamps.
    • Frequent on/off switching WILL reduce lamp life.
    • Requires warm up of 30-480 seconds.
  • LED (Light Emitting Diode)
    • Compatible with conventional dimmers.
    • Frequent on/off switching should not reduce lamp life.
    • Energy consumption is reduced with or without dimmer.
    • No warm up time.
    • Still an emerging technology.

Our recommendation, install CFL lamps in areas that tend to remain lit for longer periods where light quality is not critical. Use incandescent lamps in areas that are frequently switched off and on, and where dimming adjustment is preferred. Give LED a try if you want to be on the leading edge of energy efficient trends in lighting.

updated 5-10-2011

Barnhouse Courtyard
“Shhh… Artists at Work,” gently suggests a hand painted entry sign to Ragdale. Located near downtown Lake Forest, Illinois, this magical place serves as a peaceful artist retreat.

Lead Glass Window

Interior Window in Ragdale House

Once the summer home of Chicago based Arts & Crafts architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926), Ragdale now offers 2 – 8 week residency programs for over 200 artists a year. In 1897 Shaw designed and built Ragdale for his extended family. For three generations, creativity was essential to Shaw family life.  Today through the stewardship of The Ragdale Foundation , the creative tradition endures.

Hand Painted Sign

Sign Painted Ragdale Blue

In 2005 one of the two remaining original buildings, the Barnhouse, underwent significant renovation with the addition of an accessible studio.  The Barnhouse is composed of an 1830s farmhouse, and Shaw’s 1897 barn and wagon shed.  In the 1930s Shaw’s youngest daughter and her architect husband joined the buildings and turned the assemblage into a single structure for their family home.  Currently the Barnhouse contains the Ragdale Foundation’s offices, a living room, a dining room, a large kitchen, artists’ sleeping quarters, studios and a conference room.

David Woodhouse, Founder of Woodhouse Architects served as architect for this award-winning project. “David is a master of renovation, that still looks fresh… and he [has] a great philosophy about not making an accessible studio look like a hospital room,” praised Susan Tillett, Executive Director of Ragdale.   David retained the integrity of the Barnhouse while giving new life to the space.

David’s respect and creativity are exemplified in the transformation of the wagon shed into a conference room.  Copies of  original blueprints, proved helpful in planning the challenging renovation of this “pole” building. Without dismantling the exterior or removing any siding, a foundation was added where none existed before.  “The original roof was supported by cedar poles buried 2 to 3 feet in the ground. So the existing roof was shored up from the inside and a new foundation was excavated and poured from the outside,” recalls Jack Danch, Director of Properties.

Winter Park PendantsWinter Park Pendants were specified to provide a fresher modern take on Arts & Crafts style.  The pendants’ more industrial feel works perfectly with the exposed trusses. The Aged Verdigris Patina Finish plays off the outdoor bronze sculpture, copper weather vanes and the original historic copper lantern at the main entry. “We have received many compliments on the award-winning project, but the most by far are for the lights in the Barnhouse Conference Room. They have the perfect mix of materials and functionality,” Susan told us.

Chosen for their authentic Arts & Crafts style, Bungalow Lanterns light the exterior of the Barnhouse and also provide path lighting throughout the grounds. “We had done a national search for appropriate fixtures and found the best by far at Brass Light Gallery…they were very flexible in helping us customize some lantern styles to 1897 Barnreflect Shaw’s own lantern more closely.” recalled Susan.

Lighting was integral in creating an intimate, non-pretentious environment in which artists could flourish. Brass Light Gallery was proud to provide lighting for this project. “I believe Brass Light Gallery was a good fit for Ragdale…” remarked Steve Kaniewski, Brass Light Gallery’s President and Founder. “We have been hand crafting high quality light fixtures in the Arts & Crafts style for over thirty-five years. The project aligned with our core values and sensibilities.”

The next big project at Ragdale is the restoration of Howard Van Doren Shaw’s 1897 home.  This fine example of Shaw’s early work in the English Arts & Crafts style (shown below) is a national historic treasure worthy of preservation. Learn more about Ragdale.

Ragdale House


Hayes, Alice and Susan Moon.  Ragdale: A History and Guide, 1990, Open Books, Berkeley California and the Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest IL


A. “A/B Standard Work” in drafts (aka “Standard Newsletter” in the Template section)  I

An excerpt from Brass Light Gallery’s September Newsletter…

Q: I am renovating my Powder Room and my electrician asked me where to mount the electric boxes.  I want the look of your Sunflower Candle  Sconce placed on either side of the mirror.  Any guidelines?

A: I do recommend flanking a mirror with sconces rather than one atop.  Practically speaking they provide an even light without shadows.

Advise the electrician to place the center of the box 60 inches above the finished floor (AFF) to place the light source around face-height. Often I encounter boxes arbitrarily placed 66 – 72 inches off the floor rather than the ideal 60 inch height for a candle sconce.

For horizontal placement consider the relationship to the mirror.  Aesthetically, you want some visual breathing room.  I recommend locating the widest part of the sconce 2 – 4 inches from the edge of the mirror.

Custom Home Exterior

A few years ago Peter and Mary bought beautiful rural property bordering Lake Michigan: a clean slate for creating their recently completed home. The couple embraced the design build process and used the opportunity to express their love of detail. “Our builder and suppliers were wonderful to work with, making the process satisfying and a great experience,” Peter told us.

The design of the home was inspired by Arts & Crafts and Bungalow architecture. “We also have a great appreciation for the WPA era stonework such as that found in many of the state parks, and incorporated that into both the exterior perimeter and fireplace,” recalled Peter.  The couple also sought inspiration from their previous 1930’s suburban home and the wind-swept Lake Michigan terrain.

Peter did most of the leg work, researching and sourcing options, while the final selections were mutual.  Customization included the floor plan, cabinetry, windows, tile, and higher than standard counters, (both Peter and Mary are tall). “When making the selections for the lighting fixtures, we found options that tied in perfectly with other features.”

Vine & Berry Alabaster Pendant

Hand Carved Vine & Berry Alabaster Pendant

The interior material and finishes create a warm rich environment. Over a dozen different types of stone were used for floors, walls, lighting and counters. Varieties included Calypso and Marina Granite for the kitchen, Alabaster for the ceiling pendant, and Lagos Blue Limestone with Black Pebbles border for the master bath floor and shower surround.  The dramatic 23 foot fireplace is local Wisconsin Field Stone  The custom-built kitchen and bathroom cabinets are all maple and the trim throughout the home is cherry. The hardware is mostly oil rubbed bronze or polished nickel and is often shown in combination. For example, the kitchen features bronze hardware, polished nickel faucets, stainless steel stove and satin steel light fixtures.  This unusual combination works wonderfully as the nickels and steels complement the grays and blues of the granite, and the bronze the wood tones.

Holphane Pendant

Baraboo Acorn Holophane Pendants

“When making the selections for the lighting  fixtures in the home we considered others, but found ourselves using the products at Brass Light Gallery as a standard for comparison. We found options that tied in perfectly with other features,” commented Peter. “For example, the Pine Lake Lantern family with the arch overlay carried further the arch design in the custom windows. The Vine and Berry Alabaster pendant in the foyer tied in beautifully with the vine and berry feature in the Motawi tiles inset in the floor.”  The Vintage Holophane kitchen pendants “are one of those rare finds. The iridescence is as unique as is the story behind them,” said Peter.  Mary loves them too, “They are the best — they give such great light we hardly ever use the cans.”

A reflection of the couples personality and desired lifestyle, the home will be the perfect place for retirement living.

Builder:  Mueller Construction and Cabinetry, Belgium, WI

Masonry:  Don Large Masonry and Concrete

An Excerpt from Brass Light Gallery’s August Newsletter…

I have an 8 foot ceiling in my foyer and I want the look of a small decorative chandelier. I’ve been told I must use a can light or a flush mount. What should I do?

Unless your husband or wife is a pro basketball player, follow your instincts! There is plenty of room for a decorative fixture and your foyer is an opportunity to set the tone for your entire home. Keep in mind that an eight foot ceiling in a foyer is not really unusual. Even homes with vaulted ceilings have 8′ to 9′ high foot entryways to create intimacy in areas designed to welcome visitors.

The rule of thumb we use at Brass Light Gallery is to set the bottom of the fixture about 6′-8″ off the floor.  Think about it, this is the same height as a standard door opening and anyone accustomed to this spacing will not be made uncomfortable.  I’m a tall person (6′-8″) and my experience has been that a 16″ overall length works great for an 8′ ceiling.

The grounds at Lynden Sculpture Garden

The grounds at Lynden Sculpture Garden

Formerly known as the Bradley Sculpture Garden, the stunning Lynden Sculpture Garden officially opened on May 30th in Milwaukee, WI.   Forty acres of farmland with an 1860s farm-house and barn were purchased by industrialist Harry and his wife Peg Bradley as a country getaway in 1927. Soon after, the property was named “Lynden.” Over the years the house expanded as the family and Mrs. Bradley’s art collection grew, and the property was extensively landscaped. Mrs. Bradley acquired sculpture by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Isamu Noguchi, Mark di Suvero and Henry Moore from 1962-1978.  She personally chose the sites for the work in the landscape at Lynden.  After Mrs. Bradley’s death in 1978, the gardens were open on rare occasions for benefits for the Milwaukee Art Museum and small tours.  Other than to art enthusiasts, the significant collection was generally a mystery.

In 2009 The Bradley Family Foundation decided to open Mrs. Bradley’s private collection with the goals of 

The Lynden Garden House

Project designed for LEED Certification

m akin g the sculpture collection more accessible and transforming  the private estate into a cultural and educational conference center. Under the attentive guidance of Mrs. Bradley’s grandchildren David and Lynde Uihlein, the challenging project was taken on by Uihlein -Wilson Architects, Milwaukee, WI, and landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Cambridge, MA. Sustainable architecture and landscape practices were used as the project’s goal was to attain LEED certification.

“Great care was taken to blend the addition with the existing structures on site, with a goal to maintain the warm residential aesthetic with high-quality craftsmanship.” recalls Troy Wohlt of Uilhein Wilson. The exterior of the new addition is traditional cementious stucco blended to match the untouched existing exteriors of the barn and home. The entire structure was re-roofed with traditional cedar shakes.  Brass Light Gallery Exterior Lanterns were chosen for their residential feel and commercial grade construction.

Lynden Gardens, Stucco Barn

Original Stucco Barn

Chicago landscape architects William Langford and Theodore Moreau transformed the farm fields into an English Country garden with rolling hills, a lake and a rustic bridge in the late 1920s. Nearly 4000 trees including elms, pines, maples, birch and Kentucky coffee trees were planted on the grounds over the years.  Considerable care was taken not to stress the mature trees during the project. “Maintaining the one-of-a-kind landscape, while introducing native plants, water retention basins and a pervious parking lot was handled beautifully by landscape architects at Michael Van Valenburgh Associates.” says Wohlt.

“We expect Lynden will become a resource for the entire community and a place that people will return frequently, whether it’s for a picnic on a Wednesday evening, a visit to one of our changing exhibitions or educational programs, or simply enjoy the beauty of changing seasons in the sculpture garden.” says David Uihlein.

More information on Lynden.

Albeck, Elisabeth. “Sunday in the Park: A sneak peek at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.” Third Coast Digest.com. Online, 28 May 2010.
Dunigan, Peggy Sue. “The Lynden Sculpture Garden Reveals the Art of Harry and Peg Bradley.” ExpressMilwaukee.com. Online, 25 May. 2010.
Lawerence, Julie. “Lynden Sculpture Gardern Shares Its Beauty With The Rest of Us.” OnMilwaukee.com. Online, 11 May 2010.
Schumacher, Mary Louise. “Bradley Sculpture Garden Preparing For Big Changes.” JSOnline.com. Online, 30 May 2009.
“Lynden Sculpture Garden.” Press Release, 30 April 2010.
Youngmann, JoAnn. “A Brief History of Lynden.” 2010.
Uihlien-Wilson Architects. “Lynden Project Narrrative.” Online, 2010.
To meet the foundation’s mission to promote “the enjoyment, understanding , adn appreciation of art, sculpture, educational ex

The issue was poor traffic flow where guests were unintentionally drawn to the kitchen door instead of the front door. There was not a significant difference between the two paths to the front and kitchen doors. Both doors were accessible from the circle drive and neither was centered.

A landscape architect solved the problem by designing a low wall with Brass Light Gallery column lights marking the formal entryway.  Strategically placed plantings altered the flow and now direct guests toward the main entry and prevent foot traffic from the circle drive to the kitchen door.  A single post light denotes the path from the side drive to the kitchen door.

Residence solution to foot traffic flow

New flow entry

Plan of residence with old walkway
Old flow entry
Column Lights flanking entryway

Photo taken from point A. 11" French Country Column lights flank main walkway.

Landscaped wall helps divide & target walkway

Photo taken from point B. Wall and landscape direct traffic flow and prevent traffic from main walk to kitchen door.

Post light illuminates drive & kitchen entry

Photo taken from point C. 12" wide London Lantern Post Lights with custom base lights path to kitchen entry.

Process of metal plating

Process of metal plating

Plating is the method we use at Brass Light Gallery to create many of our finishes and provide a layer of corrosion resistance. Combining chemistry, electricity and a bit of black magic, electroplating attaches a layer of metal onto another piece of metal. For example, our Polished Nickel sconces, are solid brass with a layer of nickel.

To us, inserting a brass part into a tank of liquid and removing a nickel part minutes later, is actually quite exciting! Once in the tank, a part becomes a link in an electric circuit.  When the electricity is turned on a chemical reaction takes place.  Nickel is dissolved by the salty plating solution and the electric current draws the dissolved metal through the liquid to the target part.  When it is done correctly, plating not only looks great but also becomes a permanent part of the plated object. Plating doesn’t fade or crack like paint or powder coatings.

Polished Nickel Wall Sconce Light Fixture

Polished Nickel Sconce

At Brass Light Gallery we take an environmentally responsible approach to plating.  We control all the important details while creating a quality finish under our own factory roof.  As decorative plating experts, we have taken what is often a filthy, hazardous process and turned it into an art form.

Our customers Lisa and Terry’s wedding date was set. Now the question was, “Where to live?” Coincidentally, Terry’s mother was ready to sell the home where he lived for much of his childhood. A deal was made and the house was kept in the family.

The neighborhood is an ideal place to bring up a family. Four by two blocks, the area known as Merchant Plat, has the added benefit of being situated next to a lake.  For Terry, Merchant Plat represents a “classic American Neighborhood — beautiful older homes with sidewalks, plenty of mature trees, close to downtown…  It is one of the neighborhoods people love to walk and ride their bikes.”

The house was roomy and solid but was frozen in the 1960s, with few updates done since the previous owner sold to Terry’s parents. While Terry lived in the house for much of his youth, he knew little about the house architecturally and had not paid attention to the details, some obscured by siding or shag carpeting. For example, the broad front porch had been enclosed. As the project quickly grew, so did Terry’s knowledge of both architecture and building methods.  “Once my friend Patrick Smith, an Architect, told me it was an American Foursquare, I was hooked — going to the library, buying books, investigating online,” Terry told us.

The American Foursquare, a popular early 20th century floor plan, is known for its efficient layout — basically not a corner of wasted space! Terry’s home was built in 1918 when the Foursquare plan was at the height of its popularity.  1918 saw the end of of World War I and prohibition was around the corner.  It was a conservative time when being American meant owning a single family home.  As a solution to the squalor bred in immigrant tenement housing, single family dwellings were designed to bring order and rationalism to home life and therefore solidify moral character.

With the help of family, friends,  and an architect, Terry took on the project himself, serving as the  general contractor. The house was renovated in many stages, first a few interior stages, then exterior was tackled.

Sears, Roebuck Co. Foursquare

Similar Foursquare plan, circa 1916, Sears, Roebuck Co.

Like the typical Foursquare, the first floor interior is composed four main spaces; an entry hall with open staircase, a kitchen, a living room and a dining room. It is very open in feel — the only doors to close are to the kitchen. A first  floor addition in the back provides for a family room, study, laundry room and full bath.The second floor, originally had three bedrooms and one bath (one was added later). The third floor attic space has been converted to a bedroom.

First plan of attack was to remove wall paper and acoustical ceilings tiles which masked cracked plaster, and remove shag carpeting which revealed well preserved original hardwood floors.  All of the patching, sanding and painting was taken care of prior to the wedding and move-in.  The paint colors were all picked from Sherwin Williams Arts & Craft Palette, in keeping with the era of the house. Also the existing first floor addition, was given structurally integrity and brought into stylistic alignment with the house with carpentry details and locally made custom lead glass windows.

Next, Terry and his wife Lisa tackled the kitchen and dining room and bathrooms. They expanded the kitchen by stealing space from an under utilized nook in the dining room to add room for an island.  The kitchen is now “eat-in”, convenient for meals with the couples two young children.

The dining room features an unusual coffered ceiling design which appears more Prairie School or perhaps Macintosh influenced.  The couple’s interior decorating gravitates toward Art & Crafts with some Prairie Style and Mission touches. They selected Brass Light Gallery’s Prairie School inspired River Forest Chandelier and Studio Lanterns to light the dining room.  Note how the overlay pattern of the River Forest Chandelier matches the custom doors that lead to the addition. Period appropriate hardware, plumbing fixtures and hexagonal floor tiles were also chosen for the bathrooms.

Before & after image of the renovation

Dining room before & after

To provide extra space for the large family that inhabited the house prior to Terry’s parents’ purchase, the porch had been entirely enclosed. During the demolition to open it back up, a note, written on top of a Gilbey’s Gin ad from a 1966 Times Magazine, was found.  It said, ” Now hear this! George Stalle remodeled this house. He started in 1959…  This part of the ‘project’ consisted of transforming the front porch… That’s all!  And lots more! We also buried a $1,000.00 bill just for fun.  Hope you find it!” Terry recalled that “there was another map, one of the kids had drawn, to show where additional ‘treasures’ were buried. The ‘X’ on the map was under the neighbors driveway.” By reverting the porch back to its original intent (opening it back up, adding new balustrades and square tapered columns in the Arts & Crafts style) Terry created the most dramatic and significant visual impact of the project.

The last big project was removal of the aluminum siding.  Fortunately, the aluminum preserved the original wood siding which was in remarkably good  shape.  The period cedar shake found on the 2nd floor was a pleasant surprise. With little repair and lots of  sanding and painting, the exterior was returned to its original likeness.

The five year restoration process  revealed the homes original layout and Arts & Crafts disposition.Terry exposed the house’s beauty and design integrity and in the process transformed the solid structure into a warm, airy, open environment; a home, to enjoy while raising his own children with his wife Lisa.

Antique Home. “Colonial Revival: The American Foursquare.” Web. 18 June, 2010.
Antique Home Style. “Foursquare Style — 1895 to 1930.” Web. 18 June, 2010.
Antique Home Style. “Modern Home No. 264B148, 1916 Sears Roebuck Modern Homes.” Web. 18 June, 2010.
Jennings, Jan and Herbert Gottfried. American Vernacular Interior Architecture 1870-1940. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. Small Houses of the Twenties The Sears, Roebuck 1926 House Catalog: An Unabridged Reprint. New York: Dover Publications and The Athenauem of Philadelphia, 1991.
Milhender Electric Light Fixtures, Circa 1915

Milhender Electric Supply Catalogue, Circa 1915

In 1910 electricity was fairly new and not wide spread. Some of the fixtures sold at the time were mere adaptations of gas-light styles, absent elaborate Victorian decoration. For example, solid stems on ceiling fixtures to encase pipes running gas were incorporated in early electric lighting designs.  By the 1920s most urban and suburban homes were lit with electricity, and ceiling fixtures and sconces could now be suspended with chain, with the electrical wires woven through the chain.

Most fixtures were made of brass and held glass shades, globes or bowls. The style would — usually but not always — vary to match the style of the interior decor. Styles could range from Colonial to Mission or Arts & Crafts. Generally, the fixtures were fairly clean, matching the simple and straight forward architecture.

The light fixtures were either purchased from a lighting supplier or via mail-order catalog.  If the house was from a mail-order company like Sears & Roebuck and Co., Aladdin or Montgomery Ward, the owners would often buy the fixtures out of the same catalog.

Dining Room Light Fixtures were often “shower” fixtures with 3-6 glass shades or lanterns suspended on long chains from the ceiling. “Branched” fixtures or chandeliers, with glass shades or electric candles were also an option.

Vintage Lighting from Sears

Mission Style Shower Fixtures

Alternatively, a single large dome shade with 2-4 sockets was suspended over the table with a single chain or stem.

Galena Light Fixture

Galena Ceiling Fixture

Kitchens were most often lit with a single surface mount ceiling fixture with an enclosed glass white opal globe (round or schoolhouse). Sometimes, a pendant was suspended over the kitchen sink.  Bedroom Lights were often embossed brass surface mount pan lights with 2-4 lights.  Bathroom Lighting was often nickel-plated. Single light sconces, with plain white gloss or white frosted shades mounted on either side of the mirror were popular.  Sometimes a single surface mounted ceiling light with a glass shade or globe was mounted in the center of the bathroom to augment sconces or as the sole light fixture.

Wall Sconce Light Fixture

Evanston Wall Sconce

Porches were lit with a surface mounted light with a round glass globe or a lantern suspended from the ceiling or mounted adjacent to the front door.  Porch Lighting was either cast iron or brass.

Given the variety of styles available in the era, homeowners who are interested in architecturally appropriate lighting for their Foursquare style house have a broad range from which to choose.  Colonial, Mission, Arts & Crafts and Prairie Style light fixtures will all be equally at home in an American Foursquare.

Jennings, Jan and Herbert Gottfried. American Vernacular Interior Architecture 1870-1940. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.
Maril, Nadja. American Lighting: 1840-1940. Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1989.
Schweitzer, Robert and Michael W.R. Davis. America ‘s Favorite Homes: Mail-Order Catalogues as a Guide to Popular Early 20th-Century Houses. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. Small Houses of the Twenties The Sears, Roebuck 1926 House Catalog: An Unabridged Reprint. New York: Dover Publications and The Athenauem of Philadelphia, 1991.
Thomas, Jo Ann. Early Twentieth Century Lighting Fixtures: Selections from an early 1900 R. Williamson & Company Lamp Catalog. Kentucky: Collector Books, 1980.