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For the Love of Lamps

~ By Susan Rayner, Design Editor ~

I have a little thing for lamps. Almost as bad as my thing for side tables, but at least lamps take up less space. The right lamp can totally elevate a room, just as the wrong one can look oddly out of place.

So how do you choose the right one? What is the correct size? How do you pick a shade – should it be fabric or hardback? And what is hardback anyway? Then you have to know what the heck a harp and finial is.  And let’s not forget it’s actually supposed to provide the right level and type of light.

Whew, that’s a lot of decisions.  Let’s start with how to determine the right size through my own living room lamp saga.

I found this twisted solid glass lamp in a Harbor Country, MI antique store and bought it without really knowing where it would go because I just had to have it.



Definitely too small next to the living room couch.  But just right in the bedroom.




Then I found this in an antique store outside of Rochester, MN.  (Road trips to small towns are a great way to find cool stuff for great prices.)





But the shade made the lamp way too kitschy so I toned it down with a natural linen drum shade.






This was my main living room lamp for several years until my next road trip to downstate Illinois where I found this beauty for only $25.





I had a new shade made (cost more than the lamp, but the total price was still a steal), found the perfect finial and ended up with a great piece.  The new lamp is larger than the old one but that’s fine because the end table is big enough to handle it and a Restoration Hardware Counterpoise table lamp on the opposite end of the couch creates balance.




Proportion and balance are crucial elements in making a room pleasing and cohesive.  Yes, I know, there is still the matter of the shade size, material, style, finial, bulb type and so on but let’s leave that for a future email, shall we?


A Note About Ugly Lamps

There are so many beautiful lamps that I’m fascinated by the fact that there seem to be just as many lamps, well on the opposite end of the spectrum. Okay, I’ll just come out and say it – there’s nothing uglier than an ugly lamp.  But there is something awesome about the degree of ugliness that lamps can reach that totally fascinates me.  I stumbled on the two below wandering through one of my favorite local resale shops and they instantly went to the top of my ugly lamp list.





That is, until I turned the corner and found this little number.  I can’t help but imagine the room that could handle a lamp with a huge orange crushed velvet shade!





When I was a kid many homes had large elaborate lamps in the picture window.  Maybe it signified that the family had finally reached a level of financial security to afford such a fancy item.




The style of lamp that fascinated me the most was the one where a woman (semi-naked of course) was trapped in a circle of rain.  Later I realized that it’s oil dripping down cords but I’m still not sure how the whole thing worked.


They say everything comes back in style but I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t include the oil drip lamp.  Although I would nominate it for the Museum of Kitsch, hopefully soon to open in Vegas!


Need help with updating your room? Then please contact  me at or 312-607-0791 for a free consultation.  

About the Author

Susan RaynerOwner of Susan Rayner Interiors, Susan’s aesthetic is clean and classic, whether the style is modern, traditional or somewhere in between. She is passionate about creating positive change for her clients while allowing them to control their costs. Susan has a friendly, collaborative approach that allows her clients to enjoy the design process. This ensures they will love the end result – a house they enjoy coming home to!

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About the author, Kelly

Kelly Galea is a creative, multi-passionate entrepreneur and luminary blessed with a unique combination of wit, grit, intellect and intuition. She helps you navigate the work-life maze of ever-shifting priorities and transform your life through holistic self-discovery techniques and immersive, fun and magical mini-quests. Working with Kelly will inspire you to unveil, express and celebrate your vital personality and lifestyle preferences to create a more harmonious life.

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