A classic-style Chandelier hanging over a dark wood table in a Gordon James custom home.

How Do I Install My Chandelier?

Whether delicate and ornate or sleek and modern, the chandelier retains the same associations today as it has for centuries: those of a statement piece in interior decor, a focal point of strong lighting and a room’s aesthetic. Many of our recent projects have featured chandeliers in a variety of styles and settings. If you plan to include a chandelier in your interior renovation, read on to learn the basics of installation. While the instructions below apply most directly to a do-it-yourself approach, the information provided remains useful even to those leaving the installation to the professionals.

A modern metal Chandelier in a custom Gordon James home.

Chandelier Installation Basics

before doing anything, remember to turn off the electricity to the room you're working on at the main electrical panel. Never attempt to work on live wires. Test the light switch in the room to confirm that the power is off. 

To start, unscrew and lower the existing fixture's canopy (the disk against the ceiling) to access the electrical box. Then carefully remove the twist-on connectors from the wiring, double-checking there is no current, and remove the fixture. Replace the old electrical box with a new one, and install a fan brace to secure the array if needed. 

Next, the chandelier’s wiring. Before installing the fixture in the ceiling, make sure it will hang at the right hight. Thread the nipple first into the chandelier’s chain holder, then into the fixture-mounting bar. Feed the chandelier wires through the nipple. Lift the fixture and screw the mounting bar to the electrical box. You then connect the chandelier's copper grounding wire. Next, strip ½ inch of insulation off the chandelier's wiring. Connect the corresponding cable and chandelier wires before stowing them in the electrical box. Slide the chandelier's canopy up the chain and press it tight against the ceiling, making sure the wires are tucked. Push the retaining collar up the chain, thread it onto the chain holder, and hand-tighten the collar to hold the canopy tight against the ceiling. Finally, install the lightbulbs and shades, then restore the power to the room. You’re finished!

A modern chandelier with crown molding around it in the living room of a custom Gordon James home.

Design Characteristics and Tips

There are several varieties of fixtures that fall under the category of “chandelier.” Classic chandeliers most typically refract light via the use of crystal prisms. contemporary chandeliers feature a more minimalist design, often of metal. Modern chandeliers combine these elements to varying degrees. As a general guideline for sizing purposes, add up the length and width of the room in feet and use the same number in inches for your fixture’s diameter. In the case of a dining-room chandelier, use a fixture one-half to three-quarters the width of the table. Hang the light 36 to 48 inches above the table. Choose the lower number for more intimacy, the higher one if you want to stand when toasting.

A high-ceiling living room that features a wide, circular chandelier in a Gordon James custom home.

Two modern art-house chandeliers that hang and accent a living room in a custom Gordon-James home.


Now that you’ve got a more solid background on the design and installation process of chandeliers, you’ll be able to select a beautiful and functional fixture for your home. Though the considerations listed above may seem complex, rest assured that Gordon James will handle all facets of installation with skill and technical acumen. Contact us today, and we’ll light the way to a lovely new home interior!

Entertainers Dream by Gordon James

All About Archways

Add perceived space to your home by creating a larger opening between rooms. Or, simply hoping to add design flair, converting a typical entryway into a curved arch accomplishes both of these goals.

The innovative builders at Gordon James will not only construct such archways, but do so efficiently, precisely, and beautifully. Before viewing our featured gallery, “Orono Artisan,” for design inspirations, consult the following article to learn more about the basics of constructing interior archways.


Generally speaking, you’ll need to frame a curved arch, bend and fasten a strip of drywall to the curved framing, and then install a flexible corner bead. First, cut away the drywall along the inside edge of the opening, in order to expose the framing. Don’t worry if you break it back a few inches on the walls. Determine the style and size of the arch (half circle, partial circle or ellipse), and make a pattern out of cardboard - it’s always better to visualize the project before fully committing to alteration of the architecture! Tape the template over the entryway, making sure that the design is pleasing and leaves enough remaining headroom.

Next, use your cardboard template to mark out and cut two plywood arches, each ½ inch thick. Cut a 6-foot two-by-four down to 2½ inches wide (or 2 inches narrower than the total wall thickness). Cut one top block and two side blocks and nail them to the door framing, centering them so that the plywood arches will sit flush with the existing framing. Now nail the arched plywood into place on both sides.

Cut short arch blocks and screw them between the plywood arches, at approximately 6-inch intervals. Then, cut strips of ⅛ inch hardboard (such as Masonite) and nail them to the arch blocks, making sure to follow the curve of the plywood. The hardboard will provide a smooth, solid backer for the drywall and eliminates creases. Run it all the way down the sides to the floor. It’s best at this stage to use short drywall or underlayment nails.

Next, fasten the drywall over the face of the arch. Let it overhang into the archway and then cut out the curve of the arch with a drywall or keyhole saw. Now, cut a strip of drywall the same width as the total thickness of the wall. Because the drywall will be applied to a curved surface, it will need to be bent, and therefore wetted. If you’re using regular ½ inch drywall, wet the backside of the strip, and lay it between two objects of identical height (for example, sawhorses), so that it can sag as the water soaks in. You may need to wet it several times and let it slowly bend for an hour or two. Alternatively, ¼ inch drywall designed to bend is also available.

While the drywall is still flexible, affix it to the hardboard; start 6 inches below the curve of the arch, pushing the drywall firmly against the hardboard, then drive a pair of nails every 6 inches into your blocking around the curve. Use straight strips to finish the sides, and apply flexible plastic corner bead to both edges, running the bead all the way to the floor. Start at one end and fasten the bead with a staple gun, driving 9/16 inch-long staples every 3 inches. Keep the bead centered on the corner and tight to the drywall. This step gives the arch its final shape, so take your time.

Finally, mix up some setting-type joint compound and cover the corner bead. Apply second and third coats of joint compound, letting it dry between coats. Sand the entryway down - at this point, the new entryway will be ready to paint!


As this article shows, the do-it-yourself approach to creating interior archways can be laborious! Rest assured, the experienced home builders at Gordon James will handle all facets of construction with skill and technical acumen. Contact us today, and see how a professionally created archways can open up your home.

Note: This article uses information adapted from an original article found on FamilyHandyMan.com. A link to this article may be accessed below.


A custom wine cellar built by Gordon James for one of their luxury custom homes.

Home Wine Cellars - Building Basics

It is every wine aficionados dream to have a home wine cellar installed in their home. Gordon James can make that dream a reality, and put your personal touch on the space. Before viewing our gallery, “Wine Lover’s Paradise,” for inspiration, consult this article to learn more about home wine cellars.

Location, Location, Location

Contrary to popular belief, a home wine cellar doesn’t necessarily have to be in your basement. It’s important to remember, however, that the location that you choose will have a future impact on the cost of maintaining your cellar. Your wine cellar should be located in the home's coolest and darkest place. The closer you are to maintaining a temperature of 55°-58° F and a humidity percentage of 55-75 percent, the better off both your wine and your wallet will be.

Wine Lover's Paradise by Gordon JamesConstruction Considerations

Our accomplished team of builders will obviously take care of every step in the process of construction. To give you a general idea of what’s in store, here are some quick facts about home wine cellars:


To cover the walls and ceiling, you will need to utilize material that is resistant to the high humidity conditions. The most common choice for wall and ceiling coverings is water-resistant drywall. The drywall should first be covered with primer, followed by a water-based, exterior-grade paint; oil - or solvent-based paints can leave a lingering odor in the wine cellar.


When installing flooring in a wine cellar, you want to ensure that it will withstand the high-humidity environment. Carpeting and vinyl flooring are both poor choices, as moisture may make carpeting rot and vinyl buckle. You can utilize a bare concrete floor, as long as you seal the concrete. If you want a more decorative option, it is common to utilize porcelain tiles, cork, or hardwood flooring. 


You will need to install an exterior-grade door, sealed on three sides with weather stripping, and on the bottom with a threshold and door sweep. If you decide on a glass door for your wine cellar, you will need to thermopane it. This ensures proper insulation and less risk for condensation. You can choose solid wood doors, but Gordon James recommends acclimating the wood to minimize expansion.

Electrical Outlets

Outlets in a wine cellar are best placed in the spaces at the corners where the wine racks come together. At the same time, it is important to follow your local building code for outlet placement.


There are very few limitations when it comes to lighting options for a wine cellar. There are concerns about the effects of UV lights on long-term storage, but needs more research to be substantiated. 

Another view of a custom wine cellar built in one of Gordon James' luxury custom homes. A view of a Gordon James-built custom wine cellar in a custom home. Conclusion

Though building a wine cellar may seem confusing, Gordon James will handle all of the construction so you can relax. Contact us today, and you too could soon be enjoying a glass in your own “Wine Lover’s Paradise.”