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Discovering The Joys Of Maximalism And Mood Lighting With Lampshades

by Fabienne Lafrog

Lampshades are often the one completely overlooked item in the room. I was having a romantic dinner in a restaurant the other week and I could not help but be in awe at the decadent maximalist décor. Everything in there was absolutely ravishing to the eye. Well, almost everything. I was totally loving it all until I discovered something that ruined it. In the middle of one of the dining areas, they had two tall lamps, well positioned to divide the dining space symmetrically, but, in this all-colorful, opulent, botanical scheme, the lampshades were... cream! Who on earth thought it was a good idea to deface such a fantastic interior with a pair of boring cream lampshades perched in the middle of the room?

Lampshades are like cushions and frames, they finish off a room. They are the small details that make a big difference. How many times have you seen a beautiful lamp base, hatted with the most boring cream, beige, grey or black mass-produced shade, a piece of cheap textile stuck on poor quality PCV, with no lining, no trimmings, no finishing touches? Why are lampshades such design afterthoughts when there is so much to choose from out there?  

Maximalism is everywhere on lifestyle TV programs, and yet, in most department stores, lamps tend to feature an array of the most simplistic and utilitarian beige, pebble, biscuit, cream, mocha, grey, anthracite, or, if you’re lucky, teal or ochre, lampshades. Next time you visit the lighting department of one of these shops, just cast a quick glance round the floor and you will find yourself in a sea of boring shades. A right visual porridge.  

Lampshades create the right atmosphere and, like cushions, make your space a welcoming homely haven where you will want to unwind and socialise. Any décor, even the most neutral one can benefit from a statement lampshade. Like a painting on the wall, a beautiful lighting feature is all you need to transform a room. And the good thing is, you can take it with you when you move and use it again and again and again. The planet will also thank you for choosing to invest in a well-made lampshade that will last and not end up in a landfill when you next move house. 

Mood lighting is all about lighting up some key areas of space only, it gives depth to a room, showcasing particular elements you want to highlight and creating a sense of cosiness and warmth. Carefully positioned table and floor lamps can remodel and enhance your space, draw attention to key pieces of your décor and direct the light only where you want it. In a nutshell, table lamps with a broad shade will cast more light than floor lamps with a totem shade. The darker the outer and lining fabrics, the less light bleed you get. So, if you’re after creating a silky, plush, boudoir vibe, look out for the lining and avoid stark white. If you’d like to read by a lamp, then you can choose a white or lighter colored lining and a larger shade. If you want to watch TV without being completely in the dark or subjected to the excessive light coming from your ceiling, then a plush dark and fully lined shade is your friend.

Tall lampshades like totems are ideal mood lighting solutions as they will act more as a lit-up structure than a shade. They create interest and are definitely a statement in any space, at night or during the day. Small shades are also perfect to create a warm atmosphere and if properly positioned under a picture, they can even really do it justice.

But the joys of mood lighting do not stop in the main living areas of your home. The boudoir is THE place where they play centre stage. Haven’t we all thrown a scarf on a bedside lamp to reduce the light and create a velvetier mood? Well, with the correct mood lighting in place, there is no more need for such a dangerous practice. A table or floor lamp featuring a gorgeous lampshade in the far corner of the bedroom is all you need to create the ideal smooth boudoir feel you’d like. Tall lampshades are perfect for this as they take up absolutely no room if placed on a stick floor lamp. Smaller lamps can also work very well. Prefer dark lining to enhance the effect and don’t be scared if at first, you don’t see much. Your eyes will adapt, and you will soon understand the joys of mood lighting.

And even if you live in a white box by choice or in a magnolia flat you do not want to redecorate, choosing the right lighting can help you create a warm cosy atmosphere. All you need to do is use the overhead downlighters and ceiling pendants only when you really need to see the whole room and choose mood lighting solutions instead when you just want to enjoy a drink with friends, watch a good film on TV or simply have some quiet time with a book.