I’m hearing from lots of you that you are using outdoor lanterns & light fixtures in your interior spaces because these fixtures are less expensive & bigger. Some folks are brightening their kitchen islands with one lrg or several smaller exterior lanterns. A friend of mine who has long, narrow hallways & high ceilings in her home has illuminated them with boxed lanterns. You can also find beautiful chandeliers & lamps at antique stores or flea markets. Simply have them rewired for a treasure.
Lots of our customers at Nell Hill’s want hefty, dramatic fixtures to hang over their kitchen islands or in their entries because these large-scaled pieces bring with them a lot of drama. When I moved into my home, I loved the chandelier that was hanging in my dining room, but the scale was too small for me. So when I finally found a chandelier that was just right, I moved the existing dining room fixture to my den & moved the den chandelier upstairs. Mary Carol for Nell Hill
I love a bargain and always look for home furnishing that look more expensive than they really are. But these days, those are hard to find when it comes to lighting. At market I’ve noticed that the lights that are a bargain usually look cheap and low quality. So my advice is, don’t skimp when it comes to lighting — spend the extra money and get a lamp or chandelier that will add to the style of your home, not detract from it.
Lamps are an investment, so you’ll want to treat them well so they will last for years. Make sure your lamp is fit with the right sized halo and shade. If you’re not sure, take it to a lighting store and ask the pros. Check your lamp shades periodically to make sure they are holding up. If they are faded, dingy or out of style, replace them. (I’ve found that when you use higher wattage bulbs in your lamps, the shades need to be replaced more often.)
Lighting: While small, delicate lamps are occasionally the right choice if you have a tiny table or small space, most often, a bigger lamp will look better on a standard sized table. The key to picking the right-sized lamp is to study the size and scale of the table on which it will sit, the size of the furnishings that surround it and the other accents that will be on the table. Then, opt for the largest lamp that will work in the setting.
To help your functional lights do their jobs, fit them with light colored shades. While I love, love, love black shades, they restrict the light output of a lamp. So if you’re picking a lamp for your office desk, in the main conversation area in your family room or by your bedside where you read, go with a light shade.
Lighting: Allow Them to Warm up a Seating Arrangement: If you want a small seating arrangement to look inviting, add an accent light. Place one on the table in your breakfast nook to pull the grouping together and make it look finished. Try the same idea next to a chair in your entry or your bedroom.
Welcome Lights: Accent lights make wonderful welcoming nightlights. When Dan and I are done cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, we turn off the overhead lights but leave a small accent light burning on the counter so when we pop back in to answer the phone or grab a glass of water, we are greeted in the darkness by a soft, warm glow. I also like to turn on an accent light in the main floor powder room when I entertain so guests can find their way. Mary Carol for Nell Hill
Treat Them Like Art: Since your accent lights won’t be providing the main source of lighting in a room, you can focus simply on how they look, not how they perform. That means the sky is the limit! Since I like to work accent lights into existing displays, I often opt for lamps that look like artwork themselves. Check out the lamp in the photo above, which resembles a worn & weathered garden statue. Bringing together 2 of my favorite gardening tools; garden statues & accent lighting.
Vintage: Bohemian elegance is epitomized in this remarkable side table, constructed of reclaimed vintage teak. It's unique construction ends in joined legs that create a curved shape, reminiscent of the gorgeous arches and windows of the Aya Sophia. The finish is left distressed to give you a piece that has the look of an aged heirloom.
Lanai Chair: The original came from Martinique, found on the veranda of a sugar cane plantation. Many a spiced rum was sipped from the comforts of its padded cane seat. Solid teak, at once secure & graceful, was exactly right for the climate. Our Lanai Lazy Chair, like the elegant original, is made from solid, renewable teak. The structural integrity & unequaled durability of this chair set it apart from the lesser imitations we see today.
I’m crazy about ceramic garden stools because they provide a great opportunity to add another layer of color & pattern to the furniture groupings in your home. So when I found garden stools in an Asian motif, I had to nab a few for my own home. Don’t you just love this chubby little guy nestled in between the armless chairs in my living room? Even though garden stools don’t offer a ton of tabletop space, it’s amazing how much you can fit on them when you get creative. Mary Carol for Nell Hill
We all have to store stuff in our homes, so why not make that storage as gorgeous as it is functional? Big blue and white Asian fishbowls are a perfect pick if you need to contain a lot of bulky items. In the photo above, firewood never look as beautiful as it does collected in this blue and white bowl. You can also use these big bowls in the bathroom to hold toilet paper or rolled up bath towels. When you entertain, fill one of the big bowls with ice to chill wine or water bottles.
When you’re dressing up your table for a dinner party, include a few blue and white Asian vases to add a sophisticated air to the setting. Create a bold display of temple jars at the table center. Or place a small phalanx of bud vases down the center of the table, each holding a few blooms. This photo, from my book Entertaining in Style, shows how magical your table can be dressed in blue and white. Mary Carol for Nell Hill
If you’ve ever visited my home, shopped at Nell Hill’s or read my blog and syndicated column, you already know I’m crazy about blue and white dishes. I use my blue and white transferware constantly in my tablescapes because it looks sensational paired with just about any color, including red, green, orange and brown. You can easily reinvent this versatile pattern simply by switching out your table linens, table accents and supplemental dishes.
To give one of your existing displays a new look, tuck in a piece of blue & white pottery. Here, I placed a blue and white transferware plate on top of a stack of Dan’s books. The plate isn’t just attractive, it’s functional. You could use it to hold your TV remote, reading glasses or a cup of coffee. Mary Carol for Nell Hill
Another boon of using blue & white pottery in your décor is you don’t have to spend much to get a great look. These little cachepots are a screaming bargain at Nell Hill’s – you’ll do a double take when you read the price tag. I like to mix these cheater pieces with finer English and Asian pottery in displays. Nell Hill
If you want to add a touch of subtle color & texture to a display, blue & white pottery is a perfect pick. With its sophisticated lines, it’s a great addition to casual or formal tableaux in any style home. I love this little arrangement on the coffee table ottoman in my living room because it’s simple yet full of visual interest. The blue & white cachepot, holding a live maidenhair fern, stands at the center of a lovely black tray. It could easily be featured by itself. Nell Hill
I recently pulled together this lovely display to fill the empty space above the secretary in my living room. Larger-scale blue and white pottery is an ideal choice for decorating high-up spaces, like on top of an armoire, because it is tall, beefy and bold enough to not get lost, yet sleek and simple enough to not appear cluttered. Mary Carol for Nell Hill
Since blue and white pottery comes in such a wide array of shapes and patterns, from Asian ginger jars to Delft blue cachepots, it’s easy to pull together a small collection of dissimilar but complimentary pieces and create a powerful display. This trio of jars that stands on a table in my foyer steals the show because a group of similar objects massed together in a tight cluster packs a lot of punch Nell Hill