Make it home with a lamp (or two)

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Who would live in a house like this? Me.                                                                     (Photo courtesy of Ikea)

Last week I wrote an 'Observing Life' piece for The National's Arts and Life section about my love of lamps (or, more accurately, soft lighting). 

Does anyone else have a similar interiors obsession Bed linen? Cushions? 

Or is it just me...?

The last time I moved houses in the UK, the removal men called me "the Lady of the Lamps". Then, while unloading the van, some of my possessions (lamps mainly) spilt out of the packing crates. One of them quipped: "Look, it's a lampslide!" I laughed with them, blushing. I knew I had a few, but when I counted them there were 13. I was living in a small, two-bedroom house.

With some people it's shoes and bags, with others CDs and vinyl albums (I have a few of those, too, but that's another story). But for me it's lamps, lanterns and candles.

Before relocating to the UAE three years ago, I gave away the lamps from my British home to family and friends, and now they illuminate at least five homes across northern England. I resisted shipping any over (OK, I admit to a couple of shades), but my collection built up again quickly. In my one-bedroom flat in Abu Dhabi, there are currently nine lamps in total, plus a candelabra, a good scattering of lanterns and countless tealight holders. If I lived by the sea, I could safely guide ships to shore.

Rather than a kind of shopping addiction, I like to think this is a dedication to aesthetics. I can't bear bright overhead lights in a room (the "big light" as we call it in my family). Check the sockets in my flat and you'll find (an undoubtedly dangerous) mass of extension cables and wires. With so many switches to attend to, retiring to bed can be a lengthy process.


I never spend a lot on a lamp (scented candles are another matter). That way, I can justify adding to the collection at no great cost. 

Ikea's Fillsta lamp, for example, (right) cost just Dh59 each I have five of these - three in orange, two in white - and with the colours mixed together on some shelves, they look great. Even if they take ages to put together.

Take me to a furniture store and I'll be drawn, moth-like, to the lighting department - gazing and cooing while enjoying the warmth from the mass of bulbs. And when I can't justify another purchase for myself, I've been known to buy lamps for friends, in my mind placing them in the room where I think they'll work well. If it gets any worse, I'll probably keep one in my bag, ready to plug in during visits should the "big light" prove too much.

Like rose-tinted glasses, I think life is better observed in low light. I like the way a lamp can warm the cold white walls of a rented apartment, enveloping you in a soft, comforting glow. Give a room some good ambient lighting and you've made a house a home. And honestly? You probably only need one lamp to do it.

Published: August 4, 2011 04:00 AM


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