Let's Shed Some Light on Lampshades

Let's Shed Some Light on Lampshades

By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

The decorating accessory of the moment, believe it or not, is the lampshade. Shop the market today and you’ll find lampshades of many different hues — or, dare I say it, shades? You'll also find a wide variety of shapes, from cones and squares to hexagons and octagons.

Take it from me: Today’s favored accessory is no longer the throw pillow — it’s the lampshade.

Almost any fabric can be used to cover a lampshade frame, whether you favor stripes, checks, a floral chintz or polka dots. The fabric at your windows can be same fabric on the lampshades on either side of your sofa, if that’s the look you’re after.

I've seen some lampshades fashioned from the bark of real trees, and others made of metal, an updated nod to those of yesteryear. A tall shade on the desk lamp in your family library is definitely in vogue.

Now, as we know, lampshades have always made a decorating statement, and some styles are classics. Think of lampshades in black lined in gold. They’re understated, elegant and never out of style.

Remember the days when accordion-pleated shades laced with a grosgrain ribbon were everywhere? They were a stylish way to add glamour to glass hurricane-style lamp bases filled with collections of seashells, for those who lived by the beach, or faux flowers for residents of the countryside.

I have seen lamps today outfitted with shades made from raffia-style garden hats — and believe it or not, there are lampshades in bar settings made of velvet riding helmets.

Lampshades can be fashioned from just about anything. Besides jockey hats, you can use equestrian riding boots of leather as lamp bases. In black or brown, they can be very snappy and good looking. I once used riding-boot lamps in a hotel project for a wine bar, but they would also be perfectly at home in an equestrian-theme room in Wellington.

Ribbon, string, crystals — there are so many materials found on lampshades today. Some modern pendant lamps have simple glass coverings of green, red, blue and amber, and they can work successfully in decorating projects across the style spectrum.

For table lamps, I believe in lining the shades with pastel pinks, corals and even yellows to land a warm glow to a room when the lamps are lighted. That glow is a touch every room needs come nighttime. Cold, white light may be the right look in a bathroom, but in a living room, it does not create a cozy ambience once the sun goes down.

And here are a couple of final tips or table lamps:

• I often cover the open tops of my silk shades, just so you don’t see the bulb if you glance down from above.

• The bottom edge of the shade should always completely cover the socket and neck of the lamp. The shade and base should appear as one unit, with nothing to detract the eye or break the visual flow.


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