Welcome to the first part of my new series, which focuses on the many reasons that quality home furnishings are a must!
This exciting new series, called “Allison’s Angle”, will be focused on the basics — from upholstered furniture to window treatments and much more! My first article is inspired by my passion for great lighting. It is also a companion article to my first video episode of Allison’s Angle, which includes my recent interview with Harvey Hollingsworth of The Natural Light Company. (Watch the video) Since there is so much information to cover on this topic, I will be focusing on table lamps and floor lamps for this first article. I will cover chandeliers and other lighting fixtures at a later date, so stay tuned for more!
I must admit, I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to selecting lighting for my clients’ homes; this is an area of interior design where I refuse to settle for less. Lighting is a crucial element in creating a home environment that is harmonious and balanced. Too often, lighting is improperly used … and all of the hard work that goes into designing and furnishing a home gets puts to waste (yes, it makes that big of a difference!) Beyond its practical and functional aspects, the ambience that light lends to any given room is immeasurable. Because of this, it is important to invest in highest quality light fixtures for your home.
It is a fact that quality lamps are both works of art and an integral part of a well appointed home. Perhaps the following quote from The Natural Light Company says it best: “Generating warmth and luster that immediately draw the eye, lamps are natural communicators.”
But where can you find artistic, quality lighting fixtures? Currey and Company is a fantastic company that are doing all the right things when it comes to producing interesting, creative and quality-driven lighting. Their company’s philosophy says volumes: “The touch of the human hand, whether by the stroke of the painter’s brush, the mark of the blacksmith’s hammer or the depth of our rich multi-step finishes, is evident in each piece.”
It is obvious that both The Natural Light Company and Currey and Company treat their lighting products as works of art, yet still believe in and embrace craftsmanship.
Now that I have made my point about the importance of beautiful lighting in every home environment, let’s talk about some of the particulars you will want to consider when selecting lighting fixtures for your home.
1. Base Materials. I seek out lighting fixtures that are incorporated with natural materials such as stone, shells, wood, metal, glass, porcelain or rattan. Natural materials make the fixtures appear more sophisticated. It is also important to ensure that the lamp base is properly aligned with the footer, harp and shade. Believe it or not, I have assembled lamps where these pieces were totally out of alignment; as a result, they were promptly returned to the vendor. I no longer work with such inferior product lines, as I have a conscience about what I recommend and place in my clients’ homes, as you should do with your home. Save yourself the frustration and select a well-made lamp.
2. Lamp Shade. Lamp shades are an obvious feature that separate good and bad quality lamps. Nothing can ruin the look and feel of a home quicker than cheap lampshades! Look for lampshade materials that will provide a warm glow to the room as opposed to an antiseptic feel. Don’t settle for hard, white, plastic-looking shades. Personally, I prefer shades that are made from natural materials such as shantung, silk, linen, or hemp. These textures are much more interesting-looking, and the dispersion of light is warmer and more beautiful. Tip: get rid of the old-fashioned pleated shades that do nothing but collect dust; these may have worked in your grandmother’s era, but not anymore!
3. Finial. This piece is the top decorative portion of the lamp and screws down onto the center post to hold the shade in place. There is quite a bit of variety when it comes to finials; some are much more noticeable and detailed, whereas others are more simple and purposeful. When you pick out your finial, make sure it secures firmly and downward in a straight line.
Having assembled more lamps than I care to remember, it is frustrating to unpack a lamp only to find that the finial does not properly affix or align. It seems like such a simple detail, but you may be surprised to find out how often this quality aspect is overlooked by less expensive lamp producers, so always double check!
These are just a few key elements to be aware of when selecting appropriate lighting for your home. Please remember that this is not an aspect of interior design that you should overlook or underestimate. Without proper lighting, the most thoughtfully planned-out interiors will not come to life.
I hope that I have helped to ‘enlighten’ you in your home decorating endeavors — stay tuned for more to come!
Love Where You Live … and Light it Right!
Allison Havill Todd is President and Director of Design of Alpharetta-based AHT Interiors, www.ahtinteriors.com.