Lamps are like Earrings for a Room

My living room looked good but not “finished.” “It’s missing something,” I thought to myself. I allowed my subconscious to ponder the problem, I find these sorts of things are best solved indirectly.  You can’t number crunch your way to knowing what’s missing.

Then my family went away for the weekend and booked a room in a century-old Spanish-style home in Santa Barbara. The owner had done an amazing job of furnishing the space, and I was struck by the humongous Chinese silk lamps on the dresser in the bedroom. “That’s what I’m missing,” I thought to myself, “My living room needs some earrings!” You see the reason I had never thought of lamps as a solution, was because this area wasn’t in particular need of LIGHT, and my conscious mind kept thinking “Nope, no light needed here.” But my subconscious immediately recognized the sparkle that lamps would give to the space.

I scored the pair below on Ebay for about $100 and prayed that they would arrive intact with all that glass. Thankfully they did, and once I put them in place I knew immediately I needed to paint the bases black to help delineate them from the bureau that they sit on. You can see how nicely they set-off the space.  Just like earrings, an outfit might be great without them, but find just the right jewelry and suddenly you have an ensemble. These vintage lamps completed my tableau perfectly. (Enter sigh of satisfaction here…)

Be a spark in the world!





Design 101: Tableaus

In my design work, I believe it is the little details that take something from good to great.  A good outfit becomes great with the right bracelet, belt or scarf. The same is true for a room.  It’s the “accessories” of a room that will make it memorable and more interesting.  Tableaus, which is a fancy French word for “an interesting arrangement of items,” are the accessories of a room.  The items can be almost anything: books, antique wooden jugging pins, plants, rocks or artwork.  The art is to arrange them in a way that is pleasing and intriguing to the eye.

Now what makes something interesting?  That’s the $64,000 question (boy am I dating myself there…), and in terms of what type of objects you select, it really depends on your tastes and interests.  Almost any type of item can make an interesting arrangement, however, tableaus look best when they have a “naturalness” to them, which is the challenge since they are by definition planned.  By the way, a tableau is not defined by size and can be large, and include furniture, or it can be a small collection of objects off to the side of a table.  Here are some tIps to making your artistic arrangement of objects look more natural:

  • When using multiples of the same type of item, use an odd number
  • When using multiples of the same type of item, vary the size
  • Blend different colors (light and dark, matte and shiny), materials (wood, fabric, stone, etc.) and textures (hard, soft, metallic, etc.)

For instance, the far left photo is a pretty good tableau.  It has a mix of colors, textures and objects, but when you add the pillow in the second picture it makes it a bit better by lightening up the dark heaviness of the wood and incorporating more soft textures.  However, the tableau feels more “complete” when you add the third piece of artwork as it has a pleasant way of filling the entire space.  The third painting is also much larger than the other two giving us a nice mix of sizes, and it makes the collection of paintings an odd number which is more pleasing/restful to the eye because it isn’t so perfect.

Hope this helps you around your home.  I’d love to see any tableaus you come up with yourself!  Have fun!

Tableau_1    Image    Image