Tag Archives: lighting

Beautiful Lighting When Night Comes Too Early

This weekend we will turn our clocks back one hour to Standard Time.  While I’m looking forward to the extra hour of sleep on Sunday, I’m not eager for the dark mornings and early evenings that winter brings. Now is the time to stock up on candles and clean the chimney if you are lucky enough to have a fireplace. But sometimes these options aren’t practical and that is when good lighting comes into play.

(Photo: West Elm)

Last year I finally replaced the cheap light fixtures in my condo with pot lights which, when they are all on at full strength, light the place up like a modern art gallery. But sometimes you just need individual lights to brighten a workspace, to illuminate that great book you can’t put down, or to create a romantic mood.

(Photo: Onyx)

I have been to lots of lighting stores and they all seem to offer the same generic pieces. I’m looking for something more unique and thankfully the Internet provides several options, including many excellent DIY projects.

Droog Design’s Milk Bottle lamp uses 12 recycled bottles to provide a warm, inviting light that I think would be a perfect over a kitchen table. Remodelaholic provides a tutorial on how to do something similar with wine bottles; to get the sandblasted effect all you would have to do is spray the outside of the bottle with a frosted glass spray, which is available in craft stores.

(Photo: Droog Design via Eco Friend)

The so-called Edison light bulb has been making a comeback, which is not surprising given the almost sculptural line of amber light they emit. But while they look super cool, they aren’t exactly environmentally friendly.

(Photo: Rejuvenation)

That’s why I prefer the Plumen alternative, which maintains the sculptural quality of the Edison while using 80% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb (each bulb has an 8-year lifetime!). Usually I hate the glaring white light that CFL bulbs emit but the Plumen provides a softer glow. They can be used with lampshades but why would you want to hide the six funky designs?

(Photo: Plumen)

I would love something romantic for my bedroom and I have seen dozens of ruffled, bulbous pendant lights that would provide the ethereal glow that I am looking for. However, Zipper 8 Lighting’s version wins my vote for being made from recycled plastic bags while still looking soft and fluffy.

(Photo: Zipper 8 Lighting)

Allison Patrick, the designer for Zipper 8, is generous enough to provide instructions for this and many of her other creative lamp designs on her outstanding blog The 3 R’s. The great thing about this project is how easy it would be to customize it by using different coloured plastic bags. I love the bits of text that show up here and there on the example above but you could also use plain bags if you wanted to focus on the textural aspect of this lamp. If you want to see Allison in action, she also has an excellent video on how to make her whimsical Cocktail Umbrella Lanterns on Etsy.

(Video: Etsy)

I have considered buying a couple Grönö lamps from IKEA for my sideboard since they are simple, cast a good light, and are ridiculously cheap. However, I have held back because they are little boring. Thanks to Claire Chauvin of Poopscape Projects, I now know how to modify it them to make the perfect statement piece in my dining room. With the simple addition of film negatives she creates a lamp that is both stylish and personal. Thankfully my husband used to be a photographer, so I will be raiding his stash to make this one.

(Photo: Poopscape Projects)

The days may be getting darker but my future is bright thanks to the stunning lamps I will be adding to my space this fall. What about you? Do any of these projects turn you on?

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DIY Lamps and Lights Round-Up

DIY Pendant Light via Made by Girl

Flipping on a light switch only to illuminate a boring light fixture will deaden even the most beautifully styled room, whereas an eye catching light can bring a room to life. Finding inspiring and beautiful lights for every room in your house can not only be time consuming, it is also often wallet draining as well. That’s why today’s how-to post is dedicated to lamps and lights that you can make yourself, many using surprising materials.

clothespin light via Young House Love

We’ve featured a few lighting fixtures before here on the blog, and there are numerous creative and doable projects out there, like this clothespin light from Young House Love.  This lampshade is made out of 320 clothespins and brings a soft warm glow to a space-efficient laundry room. I really enjoy the tutorials that Sherry and John put together because they document all aspects of the process, including their mistakes and missteps. If you want to create a clothespin light of your own head over here.

letter light via design sponge

This amazing wall lamp is reminiscent of marquee lights. Compared to some of the other projects we’ll be looking at, this one might take a bit more effort and time to complete (there are power tools involved), but the end result is totally worth it.

Stacked Books Lamp via HGTV

I have a conflicted response when I see projects made out of old books. On one hand, I love the quirky library look,  but on the other hand the idea of destroying books breaks my heart. Nonetheless, I see plenty of potential in this stacked book lamp. I keep seeing these cage lampshades everywhere and I really like how well this type of shade suits this particular lamp.

music stand tripod lamp via the painted hive

I adore tripod lamps but I‘ve yet to find one in my budget, so imagine my excitement when I found this tutorial for a tripod lamp made out of an old music stand. What a fabulous idea, and now I have yet another reason to head to the flea market.

beaded chandelier  via dollar store crafts

You’ll never guess what this chandelier is made of (or maybe you will). One hanging planter and some strands of spray painted mardi-gras beads is all it takes to make this stylish chandelier. If you want a light that packs more of a punch, just change up the colour of spray paint, or try a multi-coloured approach. A couple of these chandeliers would make outstanding party decor, don’t you think?

That’s all for today’s roundup, but I’ve only scratched the surface of lighting ideas. There are countless handmade options out there to help you banish boring lights forever.

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Looking Up – The Decorated Ceiling

Stunning reclaimed wood beams create a beautiful ceiling that pulls this rustic living room together in what must the most amazing lake house. Image courtesy Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles via cococozy.com, interior design by Tracey Interiors.

If a room in your home is feeling a bit drab, lacking architectural detail say, just try looking up.  Yup, adding design elements to your ceiling is sure to give you that elusive wow-factor. I’ve never seen a decorated ceiling that hasn’t added interest, beauty and the unexpected to a room.

From modern moldings to exposed beams of reclaimed wood, tin ceiling tile to wallpaper and paint treatments, the internet is chock full of inspiring ideas that are sure to make you look up. Here are a small sampling:

Image courtesy Kitchenisms via Holly Mathis Interiors

Beyond adding a pop of unexpected design drama, a decorated ceiling provides the perfect backdrop to that oh-so special lighting fixture you found after long search.  I love the pairing of the chandelier and exposed brick in the picture above – each accentuates the other’s charm; and how the sparkle of tin tile helps the the chandelier to stand out that much more in the dining room below.

Image via Desire to Inspire

Image courtesy Dress Launderette via Erin Ever After

The painted black ceiling paired with the medallion is a beautiful contrast.  In both this instance and the wallpapered ceiling below, it’s the ceiling that really pulls these dining rooms together.

Image via Design Sponge

Image courtesy At Home in Arkansas magazine of via House of Turquoise

The charming little bedroom below is made ever more so by the painted board and beam ceiling.  And above, the wallpapered foyer really is a lovely and unusual touch that makes for a very warm welcome into this home (that little bench too is pretty great).

Image via 2bp

image via Design-Milk

These modern moldings by NMC (a collaboration with designer Geoffory Lheost) are lots of fun and certainly add a lot of zing to modern interiors.

As many of these interiors prove, a designed ceiling can fit in with just about any taste, from refined sophistication, to whimsical; from charming rustic to downright edgy.  Designed ceilings can also work in any room as these examples surely demonstrate.  So give yourself a reason to look up and make that ceiling stand out.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Fit to be Tied

Photo by Rachel Peters via style me pretty

There is something intrinsically appealing about the texture, versatility, strength and simplicity of a length of rope. Rope as a raw material is full of possibilities; it can be woven, knotted, braided and coiled into interesting shapes, and it can also be turned into amazing pieces of furniture, lighting and jewellery. With the nautical and coastal trends still in full swing it is likely we will be seeing even more rope inspired design in the months to come.

Manilla Rope Light via Freshome

This rope light by Toronto etsy seller Atelier 688, is all kinds of wonderful. The heavy duty scale of the rope gives this piece so much substance, and the texture is incredible. I think a lighting fixture this bold would be amazing in a loft space with sky-high ceilings.

Smalltown Macrame Planter via the red thread

Smalltown’s macrame pieces are oversized and updated versions of the planters and wall hangings you may remember hanging in your parents or grandparents house. This two-tier planter is one of my favourites. It  has a hippie seventies vibe, but the synthetic cord and glass is ultra-modern.

Stretch Collection- Carnevale Studio

Jessica Carnevale’s collection of chairs use rope, bungee and latex to create geometric designs on a universal chair frame. The white chair with the diamond rope pattern is simply beautiful, but I’m really drawn to the two-toned effect of the bungee cord used on the middle chair.

Know the Ropes Necklace- Kate Spade

This golden rope necklace is the perfect accessory for the glam sailor girl (do you see what I did there? I may have just coined a whole new style.) Seriously though, this Kate Spade necklace is gorgeous, and it’s on sale!

Christian Haas

Here’s another take on a rope light. This time the rope itself is illuminated from within using energy efficient LED lights. Each one of Christian Haas’ pieces is unique; the shape is created by draping and knotting the rope.  Lit up they cast glowing ambient light, and unlit they are soft and sculptural .

Nautical Doorstep- KarensRopeWork

I was in sailing camp when I was a kid. I don’t think I ever made it past the first stage of classes, so I was never allowed on an actual boat, but I did learn to tie a few knots. It’s unlikely I’d remember how to do any of them now, and I’m sure I never came up with anything as impressive as this doorstop.

DIY Rope Pendant Lamp via Design Sponge

Lastly, the DIY savvy people at Design Sponge have come up with another great tutorial to turn a wire planter into a nautical inspired pendant lamp. The project looks pretty easy to accomplish and requires only a few supplies. One of these light fixtures would look fabulous over a dining table or hanging in an entryway.

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Let There Be Lanterns

It’s How-to Wednesday!

A canopy of paper lanterns along the streets of Seoul

‘Tis the season of balmy nights and outdoor entertaining! Last week, in her post on decorating for outdoor parties, Midori suggested the use of paper lanterns to create a beautiful and intimate atmosphere. And they are quite magical in the way they pierce the twilight with their soft glowing light — and did you know they are surprisingly quite easy to make?

Here are a couple of easy lanterns that you can make for your garden soirees.


These originated in Latin America and are used during Christmastime. This is actually the easiest type of lantern to make. Get some brown paper bags and scrunch them up a bit. Fill them up an inch or two with sand, pebbles, rice, or beans. Put tealights in them and, voila! Lamps! Use them to line a path or walkway, or as tabletop lamps.

Luminarias. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Japanese Paper Lanterns

A chochin embellished with tissue paper dots. Image from Flickr user swelldesigner.

They’re called chochin in Japanese, and a few of these babies would lend any space a serene Asian atmosphere. They are traditionally made of a frame of split bamboo that has been wound in a spiral, covered with silk or japanese washi paper.  But they can be made of wire and any paper that’s thin enough to let some light through. They take some time to make, but they’re easy enough.

I found these detailed lantern-making instructions on WikiHow.

Sky Lantern

A screen shot from Disney"s "Tangled"

From the time I saw the floating lights in the movie “Tangled”, these dreamy, beautiful, luminous objects have kept me in their thrall. They are called kongming in China, and khomloi in Thailand. These sky lanterns are actually mini hot air balloons — they are lit up with candles or some other fuel cell, and the hot air that gathers at the top of the lamps will at some point cause them to rise to the sky. When the sources of heat goes out or is consumed, they’ll gently float back down to earth.

I would not recommend making your own sky lanterns. But you can buy them in 10′s from Amazon or in singles from Just Artifacts. They are absolutely fantastic! Watch where they land though, or try to control where they go by tethering them with a piece of string or yarn tied to its base.

Real, honest-to-goodness floating lights are released into the night sky during Yi Peng, a Thai festival celebrated during a full moon in November. Image from Wikimedia Commons.