Your best light
Rooms sparkle with the right lamps
By Karen Haywood Queen
WHEN IT COMES to
shopping for lamps,
design is important.
But don’t skip over
WHEN YOU WALK into your home, the first thing sofa, he adds.
you probably do is turn on the lights. Whether Keep proportion in mind.“You wouldn’t want a
you’re dimming the lights for a romantic evening, big table with a tiny lamp sitting on it or vice versa,”
showcasing a painting or reading by lamplight, the Engel adds.
right lighting makes your home shine. Another type of lighting is uplighting, available
If your lamps are showing their age, upgrading from floor lamps called torchieres. “Instead of
to new portables is an inexpensive way to transform throwing the light down, the light will be thrown
your living space from drab to dazzling. upward the way a torch does,” Engel says. The dif-
“You use and abuse
lamps,” notes interior
designer Kathryn Salyer.
“My husband is constantly
pulling his over on his side
of the bed.”
Before making changes, consider the light you fused light bounces off the ceiling and then back
have. Generally, there are three types of lighting. down. Torchieres are often used in corners or per-
•Ambient lighting, the overall light level in a haps in a foyer on either side of the door, she says.
room,cancomefromseveralsources, These tall, elegant lamps provide
but is often from overhead lights set decorative interest too.
in the ceiling in a simple fixture, ceil- Whether you match lamps, opt to
ing fan, chandelier or recessed cans. go eclectic or choose complementary
•Accent lighting showcases an styles, it’s a personal design choice.
object, such as a painting, or even the “You can get very ornate lamps, lamps
lamp itself, says Joseph A. Rey-Barreau, with beads and feathers,” says Kathryn
an architect and lighting designer in Salyer of Interior Design Concepts in
Lexington, Kentucky. Williamsburg, Virginia, and a Costco
• Task lighting, as the name sug- member. Or, keep it simple. “You also
gests, brightens a space for specific can get slim, almost minimalist lamps.
activities such as reading, sewing or If you have an eclectic style, a lamp is
working at a desk. like functional jewelry.”
Look for solid cast sockets and solid steel turn
knobs on rotary switches.
Check that the apparatus
that the shade sits on
(known as the harp and the
spider) are made of sturdy
heavy-gauge wire. Adjustable harps with a swivel
point assure that the shade
will always sit squarely on
the lamp base. Other features and options include
twin-pull sockets and
In a family room or living room, Classic styles go with nearly any
you’ll want at least three layers of light, décor.
Rey-Barreau suggests, including overhead lights, recessed downlights, wall The cord conundrum
sconces, accent lights and/or lamps. Especially in today’s open great
Lamps can provide additional Full room solutions—two rooms, lamp cords can pose a chal-task lighting or be used alone, with table lamps and a floor lenge. Depending on how your home
the overhead light off, to create a more lamp in one pack—are is built, you may be able to retrofit
relaxing mood, says Karen Engel, a available at Costco. inexpensively with covered floor elec-certified lighting consultant with trical outlets. If the room has a crawl
Zanger Associates Inc. in Eldersburg, Maryland. space or unfinished basement underneath, you can
For more lighting
options with the same
lamp, choose one with a
three-way switch that provides a choice of low,
medium or high levels
of light, suggests Joseph A.
Rey-Barreau, architect and
lighting designer. For even
more brightness options,
buy a separate dimmer to
use with your lamp.
How many and where?
Most living rooms should have at least three
lamps, Rey-Barreau says. “There should be a minimum of one table or floor lamp next to each piece
of furniture. The height of the shade should not be
higher than the eye level of a person seated on the
sofa or chair.”
Small accent lamps can be placed in book-shelves, on small tables around the perimeter of a
room or in pairs on a table behind a freestanding
usually add a covered brass decorative socket for
about $350, says Jim Ferris, president of Red’s
Electric in Portland, Oregon. If there’s a finished
room underneath, the cost climbs to at least $1,000,
he says. On a concrete slab, count on $1,500.
If you’re remodeling or painting anyway, that’s a
good time to install the outlets, says Ferris, a Costco
member. But first consult an electrician who is well
versed in working on existing buildings.
Whatever lamp style or size you ultimately
choose, today’s designs and features can move your
home light-years into the future. C
Harder to discern, but
just as important, is the
quality of the lamp finish.
During the best plating the
lamp component goes
through an acid etch bath to
clean and provide adhesion
of the plating material. A
nickel layer for brightness
is applied first, followed by
a brass plating to give the
rich gold appearance.
will put your
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses currently feature distinctive
and versatile portable lighting including the lamps
pictured. See Costco.com for additional selections.
Karen Haywood Queen is a freelance
writer and piano player who lives in
Virginia with her husband, two children
and an eclectic mix of lamps.
home in a good
light for years
to come. C