Stairwell Lighting : Drum Vs. Cube

January 14, 2015

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Ah, I am coming up for air after a bout of food poisoning. Glad to be on the mend! During my down time, I think I finally nailed down a fixture for our stairwell. Well, top two at least. We have been on the hunt for the past 3 months and I wasn’t in a hurry to get one in place–I just really wanted it to be right.


We’ve painted the walls and the railing and DIYed a baby gate (the photo above was taken before that installment. blog fail.) and although there are a few other things we’re doing here (tearing up the carpet, new window treatment and a slew of photos/art) I felt like a new light had to come next. Nothing else was going to look good with the current fixture in place. Or maybe I should say, nothing else was going to look like us with the current light hanging.

So, like I said, we’ve narrowed it down to two very different options.


Although seemingly different, I think both of these would work well in the stairwell and fit into our home style.

The drum on the left is casual and warm and the extra suspension cords make the pendant more substantial for a stairwell I think.  We love the grasscloth texture and warm hue it would add to the space.

The cube on the right is unique, minimal and open, so it wouldn’t obstruct any frames we hang. We love the warm gold touches that would tie in with the gold mirror in the entry.



I think we’re leaning toward one (I change my mind every 3 minutes) but this is where we’d love to hear your opinion. Drum on the left or cube on the right?

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What do you think?

  1. b says:

    Can you tell me what brand of light the cube is and where you purchased it?

  2. Tanja says:

    Cube. While I don’t think it matches the spindles and railing perfectly I know you’ve mentioned in prior posts that you want to change that out in the future.

  3. Callie says:

    If I had to choose between the two, I’d vote drum – I think this cube looks too trendy like it is on the way out and you might find yourself re-doing the lighting again a year or two down the road. And the cube looks like it might compete with the gold mirror and painting and/or make the spindles look more outdated. What about something in the cube’s family but with simpler lines? It might blend better and make a statement that would last longer.

    One more consideration, just a small one that I don’t see mentioned yet. Some people with lighter coloured eyes don’t like the exposed bulb trend because they are more sensitive to light and it hurts their eyes (my husband being one of them). Will this light be eye level with guests sitting in the living room?

  4. Jen says:

    Okay, I am voting cube.

    As a trained lighting professional, I am looking at something that few people may be missing. You have window right in front of that fixture, and therefore that is yet another view to consider! I see that cube being enough of a “taste” of what’s to come when your guest arrived in your home.
    Not only that, it is open enough to allow viewing of the pictures that you are going to hang as well. It will admit a lot of light because it’s not defused, so the stairwell is going to be well lit.

    As for the concern about dust, a duster with an extension should be more than enough to clean it. Where as drums like to collect things (bugs) as well as make changing the bulb a “fun” challenge. The texture on the drum is nice however, but I would be concerned about the amount of presence this would make in your entry.

  5. Becca says:

    Drum. I feel like the cube would get lost behind the black stair rail.

  6. Christine says:

    The cube looks amazing!

  7. Tanya says:

    I vote drum, it adds so much texture and sophistication! I don’t like how the cube meshes with the stair rail, the drum will warm things up.

  8. Sarah says:

    100% the cube!!

  9. Taylor says:

    Drum! Picks up warmth from the mirror.

  10. Connie says:

    Definitely the drum. I love the cube (perhaps for another room?), but I think it might be too heavy with the black stairwell, wallpaper and grayish walls. The colour and texture of the drum would look magnificent.

  11. Renee says:

    I am feeling this post! We are currently in the same dilemma you are – choosing large fixtures for our entryway and living room. Both spaces for us have high ceilings and are tough to get to.

    My biggest concern is light bulbs! I hate climbing up and changing them, they burn out randomly, and we have those lights on a lot. I want to put 25 year LED bulbs in so I don’t have the frustration of changing bulbs frequently (I hate heights and tall ladders. I can dust with a long stick :). Because LED bulbs tend to be ugly and produce light differently, I need a fixture that is covered and will diffuse the light. Just a thought for you to consider. I like bare bulb fixtures where I can get to them easily. If that’s not an issue for you, then cube is my vote!

    I think that the drum needs to taller? I think it is out of proportion with the window. And, as others have mentioned, it will look weird from the outside. The drum is out for me.

    Best of luck with your decision. The struggle is real!

  12. Steph Nelson says:

    Before I even look at comments to see what everyone else voted, mine is for the CUBE.
    It’s different and fits the space better in my eyes

  13. Meg says:

    I don’t think you can go wrong, but I live the cube light. It’s so interesting!

  14. BRANDY says:

    Both are great, but the drum lends warmth and adds a nice timeless quality.

  15. natalia says:

    such a tough choice but both are great! I personally prefer the drum if it was in my stairwell, but we don’t have a window… I think in your stairwell the cube would be nicer because it wouldn’t obstruct the light coming through the window. Good luck!!!

  16. Kathy says:

    Love the cube! Not a fan of the drum at all.

  17. Evelina says:

    CUBE all the way! It’s so fun and different and I think it will look great with your frame idea. I think the drum looks old fashioned and will blend into the walls

  18. Amy says:

    love the cube! I think the openness of it will be great in that space!

  19. Jennifer R. says:

    I vote Drum!

    I understand why others vote cube, it is the more interesting choice. I just think it feels a bit heavy and gothic when paired with the solid dark rails and wall paper. The drum is more a breath of fresh air to lighten up the space a bit.

  20. Shellie says:

    My vote is the drum. classic feel.

  21. Tara says:

    I love the cube!

  22. Courtney says:

    My vote is the drum.

  23. Ana says:

    Though I must say, if you paint the “candles” of the current chandelier black and change the bulbs it might not seem so dated anymore… but any excuse is a good excuse for a new lamp :P

  24. Jess says:

    The cube looks like it would coordinate with your dining room light well. Good luck deciding!

  25. Natalie H. says:

    I vote DRUM! It would add some warm texture and still tie in with your entry way. I agree with some of the above comments that the cube might end up being too stark or fight with the other lines in the area.

  26. Laura says:

    I vote cube! I feel like the drum would seem out of place and doesn’t quite match your taste…

  27. Felicity says:

    100% drum!

  28. Nicole says:

    The cube! Awesome, modern and unique.

  29. Jeanna says:

    I saw the cube and thought I want that! Just love it…………… but your space has a lot of square/rectangle shapes going on already. The drum style is warm, and I love the texture. I also think the round shape would help soften the area. Good luck in choosing!

  30. Aly says:

    The cube is very “in” with the tepee ds right now but I think you might not love it in a year & I kinda think it’s too modern with the banister. I vote for the drum!!!!!

  31. AK GIRL says:

    Drum light. I currently have two very large glass pendants over my island and they are awesome and statement-making, but are a PAIN to keep clean!! In your stairwell, with the sunlight highlighting the fixture, the dust would be very obvious unless you are ready to clean it every couple of weeks (or more).

    I love modern fixtures, but when I see this drum shade it seems to fit perfectly with everything around it. It’s beautiful without being too ostentacious. I think it flows, vs. being an abrupt eye-catcher.

  32. Summer says:

    I vote drum! Glad you’re feeling better. :-)

  33. Kezia says:

    Definitely drum! The cube makes it look like there’s too many black lines going on in the space with the hand rails for the stairs being back too

  34. Ok, I know I’m way late to this party but I’ll chime in anyway. Between the two, I am going for drum as it is a nice, smooth compliment to the black spindles and the busier entryway. But I agree that the cube would look awesome from the outside.

    What popped in my head first for the space was a simple and open gold/brass sputnik:
    It would give you the smooth round shapes, the modern feel, the touch of gold you like, and it would look badass from the outside. Plus I’m DYING for anyone to use that first one :)

    • Julia says:

      Both excellent options that we considered, Emily! A friend of mine just put the first in her entry (I wish she had a blog!) and it is beyond gorgeous. Such a show-stopper. I think Chris vetoed both of these for one reason or another, but thanks so much for linking them for others to check out.

  35. Valarie says:

    Eeeek, how to choose?! I agree that the cube may be a bit busy, but speaking from experience, the diffuser on the drum would collect bugs and dust that are a bit difficult to reach for cleaning in the stairwell. So, I guess I’m no help at all! Ha! Whatever you do will be fantastic, as usual.

  36. Drum — the cube would be a bit too busy for the space and would not age as well, style-wise.

  37. Lauren says:

    I loooooove them both. This is so so hard. But I think I lean towards the drum because it looks a little more timeless. I think the cube is AWESOME. But, I don’t think it totally goes with your spindles and I just think the geometric trend may go away soon, and you’ll find yourselves wanting to replace it.

    Just my .02

    Glad you’re feeling better! Don’t know if you’re still BFing but I can’t imagine going through that while BFing! Hope you’re all better now! xoxo


  38. Debbie says:

    I vote for the drum!

  39. Allison says:

    I love both but for this particular space I would choose the cube!

  40. amy says:

    As others suggested – I think the cube, just because the grass cloth one will likely be a dust collector and those types of light fixtures (in stairways) are much harder to clean and get at!

  41. Jill says:

    Cube cube cube! ;) it looks fresh and sexy!
    IMHO, it doesn’t matter that the cube may date itself faster. The drum is already looking dated to me. You are a decorator; you will want to update fixtures throughout your house in a few years regardless.
    The drum makes me think of the 80’s, the cube is modern and now. Again, imho.

  42. Brooke says:

    the drum! By the way, I found your blog shortly after my absolute favorite blog, young house love, decided to put an end to that phase of their lives. I was convinced I wouldn’t find another bloc I loved as much as yhl. But I found your blog and quickly fell in love. Props to you for having such an engaging blog. I love how real you are and how your house is coming together so nicely.

  43. Elizabeth says:

    I love the drum but I agree with everyone else that the cube is more your style and fits your house! Glad you are feeling better!

  44. Krystal says:

    Cube…cube….cube!! Love it! I think it would be perfect……won’t block the light or the art. The drum shade is a bit heavy in my mind.

  45. Emily says:

    Gotta join team drum. I think it would pull some warmth into that space that already has the dark railing. Additionally, I would consider the shadows. Some other bloggers have been using a lot of bare bulb fixtures and I think it makes for some really weird shadows at times.

  46. Amber says:

    Definitely the cube. The drum seems dated and will look especially so with the current style of splindles you have.

  47. Beatiz says:

    I love the cube more, but I think the drum would go better with the spindles.

  48. Christy says:

    Cube! But both are great :)

  49. Casey Hill says:

    The drum. The cube is great too, but since you have no plans to change the spindles I think the drum lends itself better. I have no doubt it will look geeat whatever you do!

  50. Ann says:


  51. Victoria says:

    I vote the cube because it’s unlike anything you already have.

  52. Steph VW says:

    I think the cube would be nice b/c it wouldn’t obstruct the window in the same way that the drum would. The shade of the drum would also cast a shadow around the area.

    That said, I guess it depends on how high/low you hang the fixture.

  53. Alyssa says:

    I love both! I will say I have a drum shade over my dining room table and thats where any dead bug inevitably ends up, so when the lights on, you can see them through the diffuser, it may be hard to clean that up so high up!

  54. Jennifer I. says:


  55. Ginet says:

    I the drum creates a softer look in the stairwell and matches the rug, but hands down, I vote for the cube! It’s has a wow factor and ties in visually to the mirror and wallpaper. I think it would keep the eyes moving from the entry way to the stairwell.

  56. Erin says:

    The drum feels a bit too warm for me and I LOVE the cube, so I vote cube!

  57. Both are great but my vote is for the cube.

  58. Karen says:

    The cube is more your style.

  59. AnnMarie says:

    I can see the merits of both, which is a frustrating place to be in when making a decision, ha. But I think I’m leaning strongest toward the cube – it ties in with the black of the banister and I love the gold in it, as well. But I think either option would look great in that space.

  60. Summer says:

    Drum all the way!!! The cube is gorgeous but I don’t think it’s right for the space. The cube’s many angles will compete with the spindles of the staircase and it’s openness in front of the window may get lost. The drum is substantial and beautiful enough to make a statement but subtle enough to not compete with artwork or a gallery of art. -Not every piece has to be a show stopper. Allow your art and gallery to have the limelight along with your wallpaper and gold mirror!

    It’s turning out beautiful!

  61. Ellen says:

    Cube. No contest.

  62. Shannon says:

    My vote is for the drum, I think it would look great!

  63. Sarah C says:

    Cube FTW!

  64. LJS says:

    I vote for the cube on the right. :-)

  65. Melissa says:

    Gorgeous options. Both. Totally see your dilemma. I think I vote for the drum. I think ;).

  66. Melissa says:

    I like both but I like #2 might date itself faster? I’d imagine its not easy to hang and re-hang fixtures that high:)

  67. Giordi Y. says:

    Why is this even a question? Pick the cube! It’s interesting and different and won’t block the view of any of your art. And it’s cheaper.Bonus!

  68. Meagan Briggs says:

    Can you buy both and see how they look in the space and then just return one? :-) Or am I just dreaming?

  69. Meggan S. says:

    I vote drum! While I think the cube is super awesome and would also look great in the space, I think the drum is more classic and will last you longer. As cool as they are, I think cube fixtures are going to be something our children will look back at us on and laugh if I’m being honest! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a drum as a staircase fixture myself, but I think it could look great if it’s large enough to fill the space. I know whatever you choose will be fantastic!

  70. Amanda says:

    Love the cube!

  71. ryan says:

    i vote cube. i think the drum reads a bit dining room and would collect dust (and floating dog hair…the BANE of my existence). i think the cube is a nice contrast to the traditional spindles you have going on on the staircase. it’s DEFINITELY the more unexpected choice!

  72. Go with the cube!! This is the perfect place to go with something a bit more playful and interesting, so take advantage! Flush mount or semi-flush mount drum shades can work in a lot of other rooms so maybe go that route in another space and use the tall ceilings in your stairwell so feature something edgy like the cube!

  73. Kristen P says:

    drum! I think it’ll really warm up the space. Plus, I think the roundness would feel more cozy since the stairs are so square …. if that makes any sense.

  74. Tammi TerAvest says:

    I’m voting drum. Although the cube is very cool, there’s a lot visually going on with the stairway. The drum will not compete with that.

  75. Amanda B. says:

    At first I thought, “Cube! It’s so different and awesome!” But then I thought it seemed just different-for-the-sake-of-being-different. The drum might give a more friendly feel to lead down to your basement, which is probably going to be more casual than the upstairs. Is it possible to see it at the same time as your dining room fixture, which is also a spare metal frame with exposed bulbs? Does that “work together” or is it “too much?” And is there really a sight line where the light fixture blocks very much of the wall (and the frames/art you will put there)? Seems most angles still have the light in front of the window.

    Good point, though, as one comment suggested, to consider the look from the front through the window. I’d think the dust/cobweb potential would be the same with both. I think my vote goes to the drum. I love that it has the extra wires to give it a bit more presence. But at the height it will hang, will you be able to look into the top of it? So much to consider! Can’t wait to see how you bring it all together.

  76. Danielle says:

    I vote cube! The colors are perfect, the gold is a great touch, and its kind of fun and playful. Definitely different than a regular drum pendent.

  77. So very sorry to hear about your food poisoning, that’s terrible and so unpleasan! Hope watching the girls was not too stressful in the midst of recovering. I vote the cube for sure. It’s such a statement piece.

    I do have a question as I’ve been contemplating a foyer light for our townhouse. We have a curved staircase in the foyer of our townhome, and I replaced the hideous 80s glass lantern with a beautiful brass pendent from Shades of Light as soon as we moved in. It looks fabulous and garners much conversation. However, there is also a ceiling light when you walk in the door right over your head, and this light really is crucial for brightening the foyer. Any tips for going about replacing that light without competing with the beautiful pendant just a few steps away? Thoughts on putting in a sconce and getting rid of the overhead light all together? Definitely want to be able to see when we’re putting on shoes on…

  78. Kaleigh says:

    cube! Cube! CUBE! I think it’s more modern and stylish for a young hip couple such as yourselves!

  79. veronica says:

    I would vote for the drum. I love the space. Cannot wait to see what you pick.

  80. I’m going to say cube because it reminds me of you guys a little bit more than the drum shade. Either one will look nice I’m sure!! Also, I think the cube would tie in nicely with your dining room fixture, which isn’t TOO far away.

  81. Christina says:

    I like them both! I’m currently reading that Feng Shui would tell you to shy away from the cube because of it’s poison arrows, but you can always work around that! The masculine black mixed with the feminine gold would marry in ying and yang. Also, the cube IS more modern and up to date with a tinge of “Nate Berkus-y”. It’s open and airy and doesn’t collapse in the space. I do believe this style will still be around for quite a while still. It also adds an ornamental piece that people (and potential buyers) may find cool! I believe the cube will prompt people’s emotions and spark great conversation. However if you want to play it safe, go with the drum. It’s timeless and classic, and much like white marble, it will never go out of style.

  82. Leaning toward Drum… which surprises me. But I think that it’ll bring the warmnth needed from all the black.

  83. Jordan says:

    It’s a toss up because I love both, but my instinct is cube! I’m a fan of going for fun when you have the option.

  84. Kim says:

    Cube! I think the openness of it will look better in the smaller space. I don’t agree at all with the one commenter that said it looks 80s-ish. No way. That fixture has a modern yet somewhat timeless design. While I love drum fixtures over tables, I rarely like them in other spaces. In this case the cube screams your style! Love it!

  85. Lisa says:

    I know there is always one person, love your taste, love the way the entry hall looks now….but on this ……..honestly, neither. Cube is to modern and the drum too dated. I think the space could use something slightly bigger with more punch. Overstock have an excellent selection on sale at the moment.

  86. Sara says:

    Team cube. I like the drum just fine, but I think with the way that they tend to direct all of the light up and down rather than to the sides, it would not provide good all-around light for the stairs.

  87. Loren says:

    The drum seems a little ‘cleaner’ visually & lighter in color. While I love the cube & think it might look great in different space, there’s a lot going on with all those lines & angles. Since this fixture is going to be right around eye level I think it might be a bit distracting. Also I think the drum is a little more ‘classic’ so it’ll have a longer decor life.

  88. Erika says:

    Cube is amazing!

  89. Miranda says:

    I’d vote for the cube; the drum is fine, but I can’t see it working so well with the carpet + wallpaper (which I love!) because it is just so much more yellow/tan than the rest. The cube is classic. I can’t wait to see what you choose!

  90. Laura D says:

    I’m on team Cube, but I feel like the team Drum people make some really good points that should definitely be considered! My vote is still for the cube, though. But I do like how warm the drum is…. can’t wait to see what you decide!

  91. Debbie says:

    I would take into consideration how it would also look from the outside. My neighbor has a drum in their entry window and for whatever reason looks off. The cube would look better from outside. :)

  92. I think the cube is more in line with the artsy look you have going on. So I think the cube would just be another art installation and beautiful. It’s a statement for sure. Excellent choice, btw.

  93. Trish says:

    I vote cube! I think it ties in nicely with your mirror & also with your kitchen light

  94. Amanda says:

    I LOVE the cube. It’s so fun, and I think it coordinates with your house beautifully. Actually, the first thing that came to mind when I looked at it was your plans for the kitchen (black cabinets with gold hardware, right?). Also, sorry to hear about your food poisoning; I’m glad you’re feeling better!

  95. Carol says:

    I would go cube because of the window, but I know either will look fantastic, so here’s hoping you have the same gut reaction to posting that you did with painting the railing.

  96. Meghan says:

    LOVE the cube!

  97. MikeAnnZ says:

    I would choose the drum. It has a modern feel, yet somewhat traditional, as well. I think the open cube could lend itself to a more ‘dated’ look/feel more quickly than the other. my.2.cents :)

  98. Alison G says:

    I think the drum light would look great. They would both work, so go with your instincts. Hope you feel better soon.

  99. Stephanie says:

    I Vote the CUBE! It makes total sense :D

    – Love the way it has come together! and I love the blog, been a follower for a few years now!! Thank you for all the beautiful inspiring work you do!


  100. Haley says:

    I love these both! I’m kind of surprising myself in saying this, but I think I would pick the drum for this space.

  101. Kate says:

    Cube! I think it ties everything together!

    • Jackie says:

      You have really beautiful taste so I’m so looking forward to what you decide!! Thanks for the entertainment today.

      Regarding the suite of fixtures you’re assembling, I assumed that there were vantage points in the den where both fixtures could be seen such as if you’re sitting on the couch, it’s always interesting to understand a layout virtually. :) I love your style – can’t wait to see!

  102. Emily says:

    Definitely drum. I think the cube is too modern for the spindles you have. And the drum would fit better with a gallery of photos while the cube would look better with one huge piece of art.

  103. Vanessa says:

    I’m also on team cube! I think they’re both great but drums are more versatile and can be used in many spaces. I think a stairwell is the perfect spot for a unique fixture, like the cube… especially if you can wire it to a dimmer switch :)

  104. Amanda says:

    There is something about the middle of the cube that is really 80s to me, and not in a good way. I definitely vote drum.

  105. LAUREN says:

    Definitely drum. I love the cube, but there’s a lot of angular objects and lines going on in the entry with mirrors and paintings, plus add in the spindles. It might be nice to soften some lines with the drum. Plus the grass cloth color ties in nicely with your gold mirror. Either choice would look great though.

  106. Jessica H. says:

    I vote for the cube! I’ve been eyeing that one on shades of light for a while for myself :-)

  107. Colleen says:

    I have to vote the cube as well – not only is it more modern, more open, more fun to look at, has the dark bronze and gold to play off of other items in your home, but it should be easier to clean as well. I see plenty of potential for dust on the grasscloth, as well as several “branches” that spiders would love to web between. The cube wouldn’t be as hard to reach with a swiffer duster, dust mop, etc. where as the grasscloth shade would be a little harder to reach with a lint roller or vacuum.

  108. Theresa says:

    I love the cube! I think it fits so well with the aesthetic of your home! LOVE it!

  109. Jess Lundgren says:

    Cube! :)

  110. Emily Jane says:

    Both so lovely. I love your style! I would pick the drum for my house … But I think I like the cube in your house better. Love it picks up the gold and it seems to fit well with your dining fixture.

  111. Abby J. says:

    I vote CUBE!

  112. Adrienne says:

    The cube! More open. Love your taste either way though.

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