Looking for an easy way to bring a new splash of style to your interior decor? Sounds like it’s time for a light-bulb moment! Add a sensational lamp. You’ll be amazed by how replacing an out-of-style or weather-worn lamp with one that reflects today’s clean lines and bold look will electrify a room. Here are four tips for picking a lamp that will brighten your home for years to come.

Pick Lamps that Turn You On

If you only think of lamps as functional tools, the workhorses that provide light so you don’t stumble around in the dark, it’s time for a new point of view. Just like the artwork on your walls and the accents on your mantel, lamps are powerful decorating tools that can infuse your home with personality and give it singular character.

For that reason, don’t ever, ever, ever settle for a lamp that doesn’t turn you on. I’m a big believer in listening to your heart over your head when picking things like lamps. Don’t over think your decision—simply see how the lamp makes you feel. If it leaves you cold or ambivalent, walk away. But if it makes your heart skip a beat, it’s the one for you. If you’re like me, finding a lamp that puts a huge grin on your face won’t be a problem. The selection right now is simply amazing. Today’s designers have taken classic shapes and styles and re-envisioned them, giving this new breed of lamps a timeless yet hip look that works prefect in any home, from traditional to contemporary.

To help you pick the perfect one, first determine how the lamp will be used. Do you need it for task lighting or to provide ambiance? Next, zero in on what colors, shapes and finishes you’re attracted to. How about the lampshade? Do you prefer dark shades, with their dramatic look, or light shades that add a bit of sunny brilliance? What shape intrigues you? Circular, square, rectangular, oval?

Get the Scale Right

For a lamp to work well in your home, it has to be the right scale. Don’t make the common mistake of picking a lamp that is so little or delicate it will be overpowered by the size of the room and the furnishings around it. Instead, look for a lamp that’s a bit beefier, carrying enough visual weight to hold its own on a sofa table, end table or buffet.

“Bigger is better” is usually a good rule of thumb when selecting a lamp, but you still want to use common sense. If your table is small, or if the lamp will be paired with very fine, delicate furniture, you will want one that is small enough to harmonize, not take over.

As you right-size the lamps in your home, you may find that some of your smaller lamps are displaced. If they are good lamps, by all means find a new home for them in your décor. For instance, if you have a pair of tall, thin buffet lamps that you now realize are too small to use on the side tables in your living room, consider placing the pair on top of the dresser in your bedroom or on either side of the vanity in your bathroom.

Don’t Cheat

While I love top-quality furnishings and accents, I firmly believe that you don’t have to spend a bundle to achieve an amazing look in your home. In fact, at market I feel like I’m on a race to find the best bargains and the newest “cheater piece” I can feature at Nell Hill’s– a table or vase or chair that looks a lot more expensive than it really is. For me, value is king. So believe me when I say that right now, you get what you pay for when it comes to accent lamps. With very few exceptions, I’ve found that lamps that are cheap look cheap, tarnishing the stylish appearance you’re aiming for in your home. Grrr! That makes me mad just to say, but it’s a reality in today’s market.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that when you invest in a good, quality lamp, it will pay big dividends. It will last you for years – probably longer than some of your upholstered furnishings. And it will elevate the look of your home’s interior decor. Once I started bypassing cheap lamps and instead invested in a few lovely pieces, I never looked back because the difference these beauties made in the overall feel of my home blew me away.

Walk on the Wild Side

When picking lamps for a room, resist the urge to make them all match. Instead, walk on the wild side and mix them up. Pull together an assortment of shapes, styles, materials, colors and dimensions.

Right now, we’re seeing a trend toward lamps that are more transitional, meaning they artfully walk the thin line between contemporary and traditional décor. Designers are achieving this careful balance by creating a classic style lamp out of a more contemporary material or in a trendy color. They are also reinterpreting the classic styles ever so slightly, giving today’s lamps new energy.

Another way designers are adding more pizazz to lamps is by pairing them with great lampshades. Some feature mod shapes, others unusual colors. In fact, if you have a lamp you love, with good lines and form and scale, you could try simply switching out the lampshade to give it a new lease on life.

Next Week … The weather here in Kansas may still be sweltering, but in my book, it’s time to decorate for fall! This year, we’re reinterpreting autumn using a fresh, new color palette. Come be inspired!

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20 Responses to “Brighten Your Home with Beautiful Lamps”

  1. nancy grass Says:

    Love the new lamps. Still using the black swing arm that was first offered in your Mary Carol Collection. Will any off these lamps be featured at the fall open house in Atchison?

  2. Sharon Warren Says:

    OK, I admit it, I am a “lampaholic”! I love lamps! They soften a dim room, add style and shape to our tabletops, and make a room come to life, when lit up. Some of my lamps are old friends that I have re-purposed with new lamp shades, or even painted, and glazed to change the finish, but my favorite thing to do is shop for a new “lamp friend”. You have inspired me to begin to add the transitional look to my traditional decor to update, and freshen the look. Thank you for your encouragement to buy the ones that turn us on, and not settle. Can’t wait for the Autumn ideas-maybe it will cool our temperature down in Texas!

  3. Debbie Says:

    I love lamps. Is the blue bubble lamp on your web page I think I have to have it

  4. Shirley Frizell Says:

    I have a need for a cordless lamp, floor or table. I have rearranged my furniture and do not have an outlet where I need it! I have researched online and have not found anything. Any other ideas? Thank you! Shirley

  5. Linda Riley in AZ Says:

    * Hi, MC… Hope you n’ Dan are well… (I KNOW business is THRIVING!)!!! Jim & I are doing well here in the desert… Life is good (!!!) ~ come for a visit?!?!?!?

    I made the “crossover” to “the reallllly “good” lamps, when Jim retired from the Army, & became a VP at a major defense contractor (civilian). ONE LOOK, and one BIG purchase of a “to-die-for”, and there was NO TURNING BACK (!) ~~~ (the only “issue” is that nowadays? I DON’T SEEM to CARE WHAT it costs, if it is ‘LAMP LOVE” (ie… it has my name on it!!!)… But I DO have a “storage problem”… a big one… for all the ones I’m NOT using! Argh!)…

    Hoping to visit Barb in Lansing this fall, for a (“shop til you drop, spend to the end and buy til you die!!” fun trip, obviously starting at YOUR PLACES) when the guys go on their annual guy/huntin’ trip with the “darrrling dawgs”!!! You KNOW we will stop by… I’ll call first & see if you have a space 15 minutes to say hi~~~ hope you’ll have a good cuppa ready!!!

    Linda (& Jim Riley, formerly CG, Ft. Leavenworth, remember???)

  6. Jean Driskell Says:

    I love lamps and have several that I change with the season. Always love your ideas and by the way , when is your fall open house?

  7. Paula Byrne Says:

    Your pictures are so fetching! I would love to be able to click on an image and go straight to the item on your website for easy purchase. :-)

  8. Charla Vinyard Says:

    Thanks, Mary Carol, for the lamp news. I always say I have only one psychological problem . . . I have a “lamp fettish!”. I agree with Sharon, my fellow Texan, that lamps make a big impact on my rooms and oh, how I do love them! I’m a Realtor and I always advise my young clients who are buying their first houses to invest in lamps. They make all the difference in making the house a home. Thanks for your great advice. Coming to see your stores soon. Excited!

  9. Mary Kay Niles Says:

    How much is the brass cylinder lamp with the black shade displayed with the white vase with greenery on a stack of books.

  10. Mari Says:

    I have a passion for beautiful lamps — and mirrors. This week’s article thrilled my soul!

    I have a suggestion for Shirley (above), since I faced the same dilemma years ago when I wanted a pair of lamps on the sofa table behind my sofa (that “floated”). My husband went into the basement and installed an outlet on the basement ceiling directly beneath where I needed it upstairs in my family room. It’s probably against code, since he’s an attorney and not an electrician, but it was perfectly safe, and resolved my problem. (If I were suggesting this to a friend, I’d tell her to hire an electrician to install an outlet on the floor. Simple.)

  11. Alexandra Says:

    I have an obsession with lamps! I love them and feel they provide the intimacy a room needs.

  12. Julie Hackenmiller Says:

    Hi…Julie thought you would enjoy the article….Pat

  13. Mary Carol Says:

    All of these lamps Nancy are located at the Briarcliff store in Kansas City, the Atchison stores will have some different ones. You need to come see us at Briarcliff too!

  14. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Debbie–If you are talking about the blue bubble lamp shown on the blog this week–yes, it is located in our Briarcliff/Kansas City store. Call Janet if you would like more information—#877-746-4320.

  15. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Linda, Good news! Can hardly wait to catch up!

  16. Mary Carol Says:

    Jean—Come see us! Our fall open house is Sept. 9th and 10th in Atchison, KS–but don’t forget to come see us at Briarcliff too! All the details available on the website— http://www.nellhills.com.

  17. Mary Carol Says:

    Great idea Paula—May be a great thing for the future. However,so many of our pictures are custom or one of a kind and in the stores only— not online. However, call at our toll-free number # 877-746-4320 and you can place your order right over the phone.

  18. Mary Carol Says:

    Shirley—I’m with Mari— would hire an electrican although, I have been known to be the master of the extension cords—Ha!

  19. Mary Carol Says:

    Mary Kay–That gorgeous lamp has been sold off of our floor—however, it would be possible to custom order for you–Call Janet @877-746-4320 for more information.

  20. Diane Keller Says:

    Do you still have the blue geometric porcelian lamp you featured several
    months ago? Thanks

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