Sometimes one key piece is all it takes to lift a room from the bland to the extraordinary. One big trend is toward the considered and dramatic use of light in home decor, and a bigger focus on the lighting fixture or lamp as a result. I’ve been stockpiling so many notes of creative — illuminating! — lighting ideas lately, this seems like a good time to give a little sample. Look, and be inspired!

Handmade paper tulip lamp by JohartFirst, here’s a whimsical handmade paper lamp with a claystone base and plastic leaves, by multi-media artist Johart, who has a little shop on

Johart’s tulip lamp shade reminds me somewhat of the little artificial flowers that ladies of the 1920s used to make from discarded (dyed) silk stockings and very fine wire. My great-aunt Sophie always had a basket of these materials at hand and would work away at her flower-making whenever the minister came to visit. “He’s just a lovely man,” she used to say, “but I really must have something else to do while he’s talking!”

Michelango silkscreen lamp and shade from 1178DesignsIn a completely different mood and media, 1178 Designs silkscreens in black glass enamels on ivory color glass to make this stunning shade. What I particularly like here is the blend of Michelango’s masterful and emotional drawing with the angular modern (almost industrial) design of the lamp itself. It comes in different colours, but the sepia look feels just right.

I’d be inspired to try a similar idea with fabric or perhaps a heavy parchment, except that silk-screen printing is not (yet) one of my crafty skills!

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funky Mexican Line Dancing standard floor lamp by Annie SherburneAnnie Sherburne has been incorporating environmentally friendly materials into her design work for 10 years, and winning awards for her work all over the place. I’ve long coveted her rugs, of course, but her Mexican Line Dancing Lamp totally blew me away! Indeed, “using recycled polypropelene, passementarie and recycled discs of reclaimed textiles, this standard lamp is anything but standard!” (You’ll want to see a close-up picture of this one — look down at the bottom of her page of rugs to find it.)

Birch Lamp set by Nicolette BrunkhausOr how about a set of three logs that light up? Not real birch wood, of course, but tubes of printed silk — designed by Nicolette Brunklaus for Lekker.

Speaking of wild and crazy lamps, my friend’s husband has been making a whole series of light fixtures from pipes and plumbing fixtures. Some of his creations, frankly, are nothing less than butt-ugly! But every so often, he comes up with something that’s beautiful and functional as well as merely amusing. I really wish I had a photograph of a lamp he made out of a vintage bath faucet for the bar in their ski lodge!

Jet airplane novelty table lampOr how about this for lighting the Big Boy’s den? ELK Lighting’s jet-shaped lamp is retro slick, in a 1960s sci-fi aren’t-we-so-scientific way — it reminds me of my best friend’s geeky brother’s bedroom, back when we were kids. Not that Steve (the brother’s name was Steve) had a lamp anything as cool as this, but he would have, if he’d only thought of slipping a small light into the belly of one of those ten thousand model airplanes he had lying around…

Feeling all creative and crafty, now? Lowe’s How-To Library includes a little online tutorial on how to make a lamp.

wall sconce light by Justice Design at Lighting By GregoryIt’s easy, truly — quite often I find myself making a lamp out of one object of my client’s or another (like an outgrown horse-riding boot, or an old tennis trophy), to get the perfect accessory for a teenager’s themed bedroom. I’m also interested in using old architectural elements in lighting fixtures — sort of like this wall sconce light from Justice Design, only recycling an actual “found object” as a base…

All the necessary DIY electrical and lamp kit supplies can be found at your friendly neighbourhood hardware store or a home improvement centre. As for the artsy imaginative decorative bits? I’ve tossed around a few ideas here — now the design will be up to you!

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