Sunday, July 23, 2017  

Accessorize your Decor with Table Lamps & Shades
Table Lamps & Shades  

When pulling together the decorative elements in our favorite rooms, such as our living room, family or keeping room, bedroom, great room or library we often think first of our textiles, furniture, carpets and wall colors. These things are the foundation of our space and the predominant elements of our chosen design statement. Of equal importance as room building elements are the accessories that we choose or acquire over time.

A room that is not properly accessorized is a room that appears cold and sparse, no matter how beautiful the space may be. Accessories add polish, texture, warmth and scale to a room. They are unifying and at the same time contrasting elements that add dimension and definition to our space. Table lamps along with complementary lamp shades are one accessory that can completely alter the feeling, scale and appearance of a room. Without question, lamps add warmth and a lived in feeling to our rooms and are available in just about every style choice imaginable and every price point. Overhead lighting fixtures are equally beautiful and important lighting and design elements in their own right, but these fixtures are not designed to light an entire space.

Although not always so, there are now a myriad of lamp choices available that are as beautiful as they are functional. A good table or portable lamp provides lighting when and where we need it. Like everything else we choose, they are a reflection of our own personal style. They can be sculptural, classic, bold, dramatic, understated, organic, powerful, serene, playful, opulent or charming. Well placed and well chosen lamps can make all the difference in how a room looks and feels to us and to others.

Well placed lighting. . .
Well placed lamps soften shadows, gently illuminate corners and instantly add intimacy and ambiance to a room. Specific tasks such as sewing, needlepoint, homework and reading also benefit from well placed and well designed lamps, in an assortment of styles, shapes and motifs. The lamp styles we are most familiar with, for our homes, include table, desk, banker, floor, swing arm, hurricane, decorative accent and candlestick style lamps.

  • Table lamps are best where they can be placed near specific seating areas, on side or sofa tables.
  • The desk top or secretary is the perfect location for a 3-candle desk lamp, a swing arm desk lamp or a bankers lamp.
  • Larger and taller candlestick lamps are best placed in matching pairs on wall tables, sideboards and linen dressers.
  • Smaller candlestick lamps are perfect when placed on night stands and anywhere a night light or other dim light is required. Powder rooms are good places for a small candlestick lamp.
  • A decorative accent lamp is a smaller lamp and should be placed in a niche, entry way or anywhere a little light is needed paired with a decorative art object.
  • Hurricane lamps can also be used for special accent purposes but like smaller decorative lamps use smaller watt bulbs. Their lighting is usually very soft and sparse, depending on the bulb used.
  • Specialized reading lamps with retractable and maneuverable arms are also becoming very popular. They can be moved anywhere and provide targeted light for reading and other close up tasks done while relaxing. Their form truly follows their function.
  • Lamps add a vertical element to our otherwise horizontally decorated spaces. Vertical elements are important in balancing the look and scale of a room.
  • Flanking both ends of a sofa with matching or similar lamps adds an important vertical element which makes the space appear larger, while at the same time providing soft lighting to our intimate and personal spaces.
  • A torchere or floor lamp, when properly placed can create strong architectural element, in a reading or conversation corner, as well as softly light an otherwise dark corner.

Organic Lamp Designs – Inspiration from Nature
The latest trends in lamp choices include lamps with organic inspiration, such as sculpted branches that are nickel and pewter plated to lamps that include or echo natural materials such as carved and polished marble, faux horn, exotic woods, botanical and other elements found in nature. These fixtures look gorgeous in more neutral tone on tone and organic interiors that seek to bring the outside in.

Old World Style
Iron inspired designs are back in vogue with their deep dark finishes and bronzed hues. These lamps and fixtures are modern interpretations of age old lighting styles with a masculine or minimalist twist. They are elegant in their simplicity and bring a highly architectural and “age old” element wherever they are placed. These fixtures are at home in interiors that play on the colors and villa style of Tuscany, Provence or even Napa Valley. These fixtures look fantastic in wine cellars and interiors that are inspired by world travels to famous wine regions around the world. They are the backbone of villa style.

Classically Inspired Lighting
Other trends in home lighting include re-inventing classical elements such as the Grecian Urn, Gourd, Vase and Column motifs. These wonderfully classical shapes have been updated with sleeker lines and opulent finishes such as hammered pewter, copper, mother of pearl, silver plating and gold. Hand turned marble is popular as well as “mirrored” lamps, hand etching and lamps embellished with luxurious ceramic glazes. Opulent is the hallmark of many classical fixtures coming on the market today.

Crystal – amazing light givers and light catchers
Lamps featuring crystal globes or columns are utterly chic in their dual role as light givers and light catchers. Nothing sets of a room like crystal.

Todays latest designs are featuring crystal in sleek architectural, orb and urn shapes as well as in decadently bejeweled fixtures. Some fixtures are even featuring colored crystals, which are simply irresistible.
These lamp shapes and motifs are at home with any sort of classically inspired interior such as upscale, “shabby chic”, traditional, art deco and regency styles.

Coastal and Cottage Style
Coastal and Cottage style is very popular in our neck of the woods. It can incorporate many elements from traditional to tropical to nautical. A touch of whimsy can be added to these fun, colorful and casual interiors by utilizing lamps that play off of nautical, cottage, agrarian or tropical themes. On the more masculine side, nautical interiors often include reproduction lighting that replicates ship lanterns and other icons or maritime objects from days gone by.
Driftwood is often utilized in coastal lamp motifs, as are oyster shells, scallop shells, and a host of other nautical and maritime items.

Cottage style lamps are often incor-porate folk and traditional motifs with more relaxed lines and often distressed finishes. “Shabby Chic” and “uptown country” falls into the cottage style category.

Figural Lamps
Figural lamps never go out of style. They utilize sculptural characters, such as animals, people, storybook figures, hunting scenes, cherubs as the lamp base itself. They are often painted, gilded or bronzed and are can be quite a conversation piece. When their size, characters and materials are compatible with the surrounding interior space they are a very powerful accessory.

Choosing a Lampshade
Your choice of a lampshade is just as important as the lamp it adorns.

At one time lampshades were predominantly available as standard white or ivory drum shades. With the evolution of the lamp as a decorative art object in its own right, this is thankfully no longer the case. Your choice of shade can add to the decorative impact of your table lamp and should do so. A poor choice will neutralize and detract from the beauty of your décor and your chosen lamps.

With the myriad of choices available today in standard and custom shades, one need not settle for the typically mundane and boring. Today lamp shades can pack even more of a decorative punch by being covered with your choice of fabric…from silk to chambray the choices are available and affordable. Silk is the fabric of choice for covering fine lampshades due to the way it softly diffuses light.

Whether it’s a dupioni or a shantung, silk is elegant and captivating. It is beautiful at all times, whether the lamp is on or off. Silk is available in all sorts of colors, patterns and types.

Any fine drapery weight fabric can also be used to cover a lampshade.
Utilizing Decorative Trims
Decorative trims, such as gimp, chording, beaded trims, pom-pom trim and even tassels can facilitate the ultimate “extreme makeover” for a standard and mundane lampshade. A very simple and in-expensive shade can be transformed into a luxury lamp shade by utilizing a few well placed decorative trims.

  • Decorative chording comes in all sorts of colors and sizes. It can be purchased at fine fabric and craft stores. Chording or gimp can be placed at the top or bottom of the lampshade.
  • Organza ribbon is exquisite. Organza is airy and delicate. . .perfect for a little girl’s lampshade makeover.
  • Tassels, pom-pom and beaded trim can be placed around the bottom rim of the lampshade.
  • Ric-rac is absolutely adorable for a child’s lampshade.
  • Decorative chording, gimp, embroidered trim, tassels, beaded trim, ric-rac or pom-pom trim can be permanently attached to the lampshade with the use of a hot glue gun or special fabric glues. These trims are permanent so their placement should be well thought out prior to attaching them permanently to the shade.

Stenciled Lamp Shades
Simple repeat patterns can be stenciled onto a non-descript fabric or parchment lampshade, turning it into a one of a kind boutique quality shade. Stencils are easy and inexpensive to make, as well as simple to use. Use as little paint as possible to prevent uneven or blurred images. The old saying “knowledge is power” certainly holds true for the use of a simple stencil motif. With a little bit of knowledge and acquired skill, incredible effects can achieved with the use of this simple but powerful tool.

Classical stencil motifs can include: monogrammed initials, toile motifs, urn shapes, fleur de lis, laurel wreaths, swags, heraldry or coat of arms, greek key, empire, art deco, regency and chinoiserie motifs, etc. Tone on tone stencils are very classical and have an understated elegance to them.

Nautical stencil motifs can include: sailboats, crabs, lighthouses, nets, fish, scallop shells, sea horses, starfish, dolphins, oysters, nautical flags, etc.

  • Little girl motifs can include: Polka dots, hearts, initials, ballerinas, dancers, hats, purses, shoes, butterflies, flowers, horses, balloons, silhouettes, etc. all done in girly girl colors.
  • Little boy motifs can include: trucks, dogs, fire engines, sports motifs, U.S. flags, nautical flags, race cars, stars, stripes, boats, bikes or anything else your little boy would like.
  • Use ornamentation creatively and wisely…Knowing when to stop is very important.
  • Using a drop shadow on your stenciled motifs will result in a well defined three dimensional end result. This will work for any motif.
  • Gold leaf when used to create very simple designs can be stunning, particularly in a Hollywood Regency style, which is becoming very popular once again.
  • Gilding, interference, stamping and mica powders can add subtly rich and iridescent details to an otherwise plain shade.

Virtually any element that you find interesting can be turned into a simple stencil or a theorem (multi-layer stencil) that can produce simple or three dimensional good looks.

Topping off your lamp
Finials are the perfect way to top off your lamp. Every lamp needs one. They are often so lovely that they can make a statement on their own as decorative art accessories. When utilized, finials really add a posh and pulled together look to your lamp and shade. “Big things come in small packages.” This is never more true than with finials.

As beautiful as they may be, finials are actually an integral element of the lamp assembly. They hold the lampshade in place by attaching it to the harp of the lamp. Some finials are downright decadent displaying jewel toned cloisonné motifs, opulent gilding and exquisite mother of pearl. Others are overtly simple and made of solid crystal, polished marble, pewter, brass and even wood. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from pineapples to fleur-de-lis, golfballs, ovals and other figural forms.

Finials are available wherever fine lamps and lamp accessories are sold. It is a very fast and simple way to dress up your lamp. Many gift shops carrying home décor in our area, stock finials as well.

Lamp Dos. . .
When purchasing your lamp it is best to keep in mind your interior room dimensions, motifs, furnishings, fabrics and colors. The lamp should always be in proportion to the room, its location and the furnishings…Never too large or too small.

  • Purchase your shade after the lamp so that you can have the best possible partner for your lamp. Buying the right shade the first time will save you frustration and money.
  • Be open to using complementary fabrics, colors and embellishments to create an exquisite one of a kind lampshade worthy of any upscale home or high end boutique.
  • Do follow manufacturers recommendations for the type of bulb and wattage for your lamp. These recommendations are for a reason.
  • Lamps and lampshades are available at specialty lighting, furniture and retail stores . These businesses generally offer a high level of customer service and expertise in the area of in home lighting and often home decor. Specialty home furnishing boutiques and stores often have a selection of interesting and unusual lamps. For more creative “do-it-yourselfers”, light fixtures and a variety of standard shades can be found at many department stores, home stores and discount chains. Whenever possible, stimulate your local economy by buying locally. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have lamp and shade that looks like you did.

If you don’t know your particular style, visit furniture stores, read magazines and investigate the different styles that you feel drawn to. You might find that your style is not at all what you always thought it was. Break out of the box and be creative. It will be lots of fun and give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Special thanks to Hometown Lighting, in Kilmarnock, for their wonderful selection, customer service and availability in assisting me with this article. Having purchased several fixtures and other items from them over the years, I can attest that they are a first class lighting center that really does aim to please. They along with the many wonderful shops, furniture and home décor shops in our area are ready and able to assist you with your home lighting needs.
Text and photos by Karin Andrews. Karin can be reached at 804-445-5500 or by email at kjaartist@msn.com.