chapter 35: illumination

by Sep 7, 2020ModLife0 comments


I’m going to come clean.  I’m the kind of person who likes to get things like toasters or vacuum cleaners as gifts.  As long the design is good, I’m perfectly happy to get something practical.  And things for the house have always been my jam.  So it should be no surprise that when our first wedding anniversary was rolling around, Arlen and I decided that instead of getting things for each other, we would buy a piece of good design for the house we had just bought.  So in 1986 we bought a PH5 pendant light for our dining room.


It hung in our 1949 Abe Dombar designed house in Paddock Hills until we moved in 1991 and took it with us.

It then hung in our Madeira dining room until 1997 when it came with us to our current house in Amberley Village.

Every year we would pick out something else for the house for our anniversary, but nothing so enduring as the PH5.


PH5 designed in 1958 by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen – The fixture provides 100% glare-free light. Its design is based on the principle of a reflective three-shade system that directs most of the light downward. The fixture emits both downward and lateral light, thus illuminating itself.

The craziness of 2020 has been a year of unexpected everything, and unimaginable news reports.  So much is out of our control that we seem to feel a collective need to seize the day and live life to its fullest.  Among the disappointments, this year was supposed to mark our 40th high school reunions (they were postponed), and our daughter Kirsten’s big wedding celebration in Miami (also postponed).  Then a fateful call in July changed the course of our future and that of our family, and gave us new hope.  Out of the blue, we were given the opportunity to buy a dramatic and Iconic fully furnished Ray Roush designed modern lake house, only 45 minutes away.   

We have never thought so little about a major decision in our lives.  If we had to move heaven and earth, we knew we needed to take a leap of faith and buy this house, becoming the next stewards of #theroushlakehouseproject AKA #weekendatbernies.

Today, September 7, 2020 marks our 35th wedding anniversary.   To celebrate, we hung a ‘new’ PH5 over the dining room table in our ‘new’ lake house.

I must have had some sort of 6th sense that this was coming, because I actually purchased the light fixture from a Design Within Reach warehouse sale in 2007 and had it in storage for 13 years, just waiting for the right opportunity.

So Happy Anniversary to Arlen, the best ever partner to be with on this crazy ride!  I can’t wait to see how this next chapter of home renovation adventure plays out for us, and how our family grows and uses the lake house for convening and celebrating.  I could not love you more, even if you were a Brady! ?

Follow along here and on FB and @cincymod on Instagram to see the progress of our lake house fixer upper, and for info on special modern events we will host there.  The projects seem like they will be endless, but the views, and having a place for family & friends to gather for the next generation are priceless. And feel free to copy as we hereby declare the new modern gift for the first anniversary to be lighting, and the 35th to be waterfront property!


arlen and my brother craig hanging ph5 2.0


ph5 1.0 at our Abe Dombar house in Paddock Hills. Yes, I made that train cake back when I had way more time and energy than I do now!

kirsten’s madeline themed 4th birthday under the ph5, complete with ‘old house in paris that was covered wih vines’ cake.



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