Just as an exquisite piece of jewellery has the power to lift that little black dress, a decorative lamp can transform a space. Most decorative lamps serve a practical purpose - whether it’s providing task or accent lighting – but they can also add interest and sparkle to an otherwise ordinary interior.
A feature in itself, a striking lamp is also a wonderful way to express your passions and interests, whether that’s British heritage, nature or far flung travel. Antique brass, hand-carved wood, classical marble or even a dramatic tribal collar, featuring real cowrie shells and wooden beading, lamp bases can be works of art in their own right. They are also a relatively inexpensive way of refreshing or updating a room and a handy way to inject pops of colour – try a vibrant ceramic or coloured blown-glass base – which will work as well during the day as it does at night. Choose to reflect your general interior style – or deliberately clash and contrast, which is a style statement in itself. “I consider decorative lighting on my projects as if it’s jewellery,” says Daniel Hopwood, interior designer and judge on The Great British Design Challenge. “One super impressive piece and everything else, stylish but subdued.” The key is to have lots of them: on side tables, consoles, on the floor, on the wall – as well as overhead. “You need to have oodles of lamps and side lights too,” says designer and author Abigail Ahern. “People always think I’m crazy to say this, but you really need at least eight light sources in any room. And dimmer switches are an absolute must too. You don’t want to eliminate all shadows and have the place lit up like an airport lounge; instead it’s all about creating that magical atmosphere of little glowing pools of light dotted around the room.”
With the dark nights drawing in, it’s important to make your home a warm and inviting space, where you can escape the gloom outside. A great way to do this is to create a cosy corner, where you can read or enjoy quiet time. Combine a floor lamp with an armchair and side-table and instantly, a redundant sombre nook is brought back to life – it can also add depth or make a room look bigger. “I’d have a floor standing lamp peeping over the back of the chair,” says Daniel Hopwood. “Do make sure that it is equipped with a dimmer, just in case a snooze is in order.” A floor lamp is also a great way to revive those dead areas behind the sofa or on either side of the fireplace, adding depth and warmth; or helpful in small spaces with low ceilings, where a floor lamp can add height and character. It’s also a moveable feast: “I love those old canister floor lamps,” says interior designer Nicky Haslam. “You can just kick them around the room to give it a different atmosphere.”
Your bedroom needs to be a sanctuary – a place of refuge after a busy day – so the soft glow of a bedside lamp is essential. The choice is limitless – you’re in the privacy of your own bedroom, so you can be as creative as you like and indulge in colours, styles and textures that you might not ordinarily be brave enough to try. Make sure there is sufficient light if you want to read in bed - or you might be better off with a task directional lamp - even a desk light. Elsewhere make sure there are lots of scented candles or candles in interesting holders to create mood and romance and a chandelier – the Winchelsea in distressed elm is ideal – for some added glamour. “My biggest tip is to balance task lighting with soft accent lighting as well as some kind of cool ceiling light,” says Abigail Ahern. “I always plop a task light either side of the bed, and then ramp up the other areas with ceiling, decorative and a floor light - and its nailed!"
For more tips on making your lighting a feature, take a look at our Lighten Up blog.