WHILE I’M NOT as schizy as Toni Collette in that new show, United States of Tara, I also have an alter ego.
She’s known as Lamplady, and she is particularly fond of kitschy 1950s lamps. Lamplady even had a space at the Showplace on West 25th Street for three months one winter, where she sold, or attempted to sell, wild and crazy mid-century lamps.
The ‘atomic style’ ones, sputnik chandeliers, and Majestics — those black wooden zig-zags with parchment shades shaped like flying saucers — flew out of my booth. The plaster ballerinas and Asian figures did not. I still have about 40 of them in storage.
I love all types of lamps and lighting; to me, it’s the most important aspect of a room’s decor. If the lighting is bad in a restaurant, I can’t enjoy my meal. If the lighting is wrong in someone’s home, I think nothing of doing what I can to change it on the spot, switching off a harsh, glarey overhead and turning on a table lamp instead, or dimming a too-bright fixture over a dining table. I don’t care if it’s annoying.
Yesterday I went lamp-shopping at Rico on Atlantic Avenue with my friend Becky, who was visiting from Georgia. We were taken with a shiny red/orange drum shade (under $350) that would totally make her dining room; or perhaps she’ll end up with a ring-type chandelier, an open wheel rim with trendy Edison-style naked-filament light bulbs evenly spaced around it (about $575).
If you are a lamp-lover, Lamplady recommends these fantastic sites:
RewireLA for vintage modern European lighting, below
Lum of New Orleans has vintage lamp bases, below, freshened up with black or white drum shades. Super stylish.
For shades to match existing bases, I’ve spent many a happy hour in Just Shades on Spring and Elizabeth Streets in Nolita.
You can find reproduction Fifties-style speckled parchment shades with lanyard lacing at Deadly Nightshades.
Cara has incredible lamps–she was the one to make me appreciate lime green plaster ballerinas with fringed barkcloth shades, not an easy sell. Some other great shade sources:
(they have the classic laced versions, in my favorite color “nicotine”)
(great photo shades and simple lamp bases)