Other than a couple letters, do you know what makes transitional design stand out from traditional? You might notice ample overlap between the two – and for good reason. Transitional style incorporates traditional basics, such as heavy wood furnishings, neutral color palettes and an overall sense of coziness.
But one of the most defining elements of transitional style is actually its lighting. Transitional chandeliers are a prime example of how important focal points are in this blended scene. In fact, these oversized pieces can make a room markedly different from a purist design.
Before we go any further, though, let’s review the characteristics of a true transitional home.
What is Transitional Style?
The best recipe for transitional design has a traditional base with contemporary swirls. Consumers got their first taste of this blend during the 1950s. Transitional style came in response to sleek, modernist architecture and bold art deco lighting. It became a more inviting alternative for those who couldn’t commit to brightly colored accents or stark-white kitchen cabinets.
Instead, transitional homeowners are welcomed with off-white walls, free of clutter. At most, you’ll see two contemporary paintings or a couple of geometric mirrors hanging on the walls. Rounding out the accessories might be a vase of flowers in the foyer or a few black-framed family photos on an end table.
The furniture and light fixtures, however, are much more interesting. For one, they are typically the largest pieces in a transitional-style room. The couches, tables, and chairs are made of darker wood species, like mahogany or walnut. Their grainy details are often the most prominent display of texture — unless, of course, the comfy sectional is covered in tweed or there’s a shaggy area rug underfoot.
Speaking of things underfoot, the flooring in a transitional home is also a dark hardwood. It pairs nicely with the furniture and adds a touch of timelessness that’s so true to traditional design.
Transitional Style, Summed Up
Neutral tones that evoke a sense of calm
Narrow-width hardwood planks
Straight or curved-edged wood frames covered in plush upholstery
Simple and minimal, so as not to overwhelm the eye
How to Spot Transitional Chandeliers
At first thought, transitional lighting seems hard to define. Is it contemporary? Is it modern? Does it have curves? Can it be geometric? The truth is it can be all of those things at the same time, especially when we’re talking about transitional chandeliers.
Here’s why it works: The sheer size of a chandelier allows this fixture to handle the weight and complexity of a dichotomous design. Within one structure, you might have white linen lamp shades and thin, angular arms; or a bronze finish with globe glass coverings.
This type of DJ-style mash-up can actually be done using a variety of traditional and contemporary design elements. The end result is always the same, though: two contrasting features living in perfect harmony.
Still confused about transitional lighting? Use the cheat sheet below to quickly identify a transitional fixture.
Your shopping list:
- Simple designs with clean lines and minimal flourishes
- Timeless materials, such as linen or chrome
- Subtle geometric shapes
- Candle-style light bulbs, often in a candelabra arrangement
Our Top 10 Transitional Chandeliers
In transitional interiors, the largest pieces are the most defining ones. That’s what makes choosing a chandelier such an important step in your design endeavors. To help you find the right statement-making fixture, we’ve rounded up our 10 favorite transitional chandeliers from top brands in lighting. Once you see this style in action, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.
At first glance, you see a traditional-rustic spectacle. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice there are subtle hints of contemporary style. For example, the Voyager’s circle base is clearly influenced by 1940s geometric designs. Even though it’s a 36-inch-round fixture, it is undeniably simple – no added adornments or unnecessary accents. Because of its size, this two-tiered chandelier will have no problem filling the space in your vaulted living room.
With its arched arms and inflated glass globes, the Trilogy looks like a waterfall gushing over your dining room table. Even the seeded glass mimics bubbles in the water, lending a peaceful tone that underlines transitional design. Yes, Edison bulbs are more typical of industrial fixtures, but they are classic vintage and emit a warm glow that sets the mood for a sit-down dinner.
Pendant lights dressed to the nine are swiftly promoted to a chandelier, and the Mime is no exception. It dazzles with its crystal accents that are defiantly square, while the sheer shade creates a silhouette of the candelabra bulbs. You would be doing the petite chandelier – and your home – a disservice if you hung it anywhere but your master bedroom.
There’s no doubt the Feiss Patrice would fit right in at a beachside cottage. It could even be typecast as farmhouse lighting, thanks to the weathered finish, but the neutral color palette and geometric makeup speak directly to transitional interiors. The six light bulbs are no mistake, either. They help this elongated chandelier look as balanced as it feels, which is exactly the energy you want in places where guests gather – like the dining room or kitchen island.
Plaster is one of those quirky lighting trends that can be adopted by several different interior styles. With the Feiss Annie, it’s painted over a traditional chandelier profile, but your mind’s eye doesn’t detect elegance in the classic sense. Instead, you see a modern art form that has evolved into something much more interesting. At least, that’s what everyone will say when they notice this crisp-white fixture complementing your solid wood dining table.
Just like your transitional furniture, the Hampton chandelier has both curves and straight edges. Think of the narrow drum shade in evergreen linen as the traditional base, while the rectangular metal frame offers a contemporary flair. No matter which finish you choose – bronze or brushed nickel – this oversized chandelier remains completely neutral between the two styles. That said, it stands out best when you let the white drum mirror the top of a big, round table.
If you’ve ever caught fireflies in your backyard, the Braelyn chandelier should bring back some good memories. When the bulbs are turned on, those seedy glass, jam-jar shades create flicks of light that buzz with energy. Even with only three lights, this chandelier’s incandescent glow will fill your foyer. Just be sure to choose the pewter finish to get the full effect of transitional style.
Sometimes, all you need are two timeless materials to create a beautiful transitional chandelier, and the Gambit is living proof. In fact, all its movement makes it feel like an actual living creation. Its zig-zag structure keeps your gaze shifting up and down, left to right. When it comes to grabbing attention, this eight-light fixture is a natural-born focal point. Let it take center stage in your main seating area, dining room or even master suite.
Indeed, vanilla linen shades are a classic feature on any light fixture, but here, they’re made to be something more modern, thanks to the slender, outstretched arms that hold them up. Also, take note of the gilded gold finish, which is clearly a remnant of mid-century modern design. If any fixture strikes the optimal balance between traditional and contemporary, it’s the Barbara Barry Go Lightly chandelier. That’s why this is such a smart choice in any part of your house – from the foyer to the family room.
The Ian K. Fowler Palomar chandelier is an example of early transitional design, when art deco was still alive and well. You can see it in the streamlined shape and glitzy glass accessories. That said, you don’t have to look too far to find the warmth. For one, the antique brass finish and 40 LED lights provide an inviting yellow glow. Plus, the dainty fingers are a direct reflection of those narrow-plank wood floors that define transitional décor. Position this piece in your entryway, and it will always welcome you home.
Transition to Transitional
When you’re torn between chunky traditional and sleek, modern lighting, choose both. That’s the beauty of transitional chandeliers. They may never be distinctly black or white, but they will always bring peace, balance, and comfort to your home. Use these tips and inspirational pieces to make the transition to transitional, and we’re confident you’ll live happily ever after.