• How To Fix A Lamp (To Make It Perfect For You)

    So you’ve picked up a killer lamp at a flea market – an achievement that already has your home on its way to looking even more fantastic. But let’s say it’s missing a shade… or doesn’t even turn on.


    Fear not. There’s no need to let it gather dust. The truth is you’ve just started the process of creating one of the most important elements in a Nate Berkus Associates project: custom lighting. Here, designer Gabby Exner shares her photographs and know-how on getting things moving along to bring you closer to the light of your dreams.

  • The first step? Find your local lamp store and enlist them to rewire it so works as good as new. Because of all the things you do not need to DIY, electricity is number one. Another upside: this allows you to customize cord length and color to suit your needs!

It’s a good idea to get any vintage lamps a quick check-up even if they seem to be working fine. (NBA relies on Chicago stalwart, A Lamp & Fixture Shoppe, where we took these photos). You can also check your vintage lighting for a UL mark that will let you know it’s been tested and evaluated by a third-party organization.


And renters will be especially excited to know you can also get sconces rewired to become a plug-in fixture. Want to try this out? Go with #TeamNate’s recommendation and choose a dark cord to make a statement.

  • Another easy fix (or upgrade?): Change up the harp. The perfect-sized harp will ensure that you never see the light socket or hardware once the shade is on. You can also check under the finial, as there should be an etching of the correct harp size to look for.


    One more consideration here: match your harp finish to the metal finish of your lamp for a sleek, custom look.

As for shades, repeat after us: you never have to settle for the shade your lamp comes with! Why not take your shade from paper to linen, from white to black, or something entirely different?


“I look at shading as an organic process: the answer isn’t black or white. Try experimenting with different, unexpected sizes and materials and see how they transform your lamp,” suggests NBA Co-Design Director Lauren Buxbaum Gordon.


Sizing can be tricky: the size of the shade should be perfect for your lamp, but also consider the surface area it is going on and the overall space in the room. For example, tiny bedside tables may be entirely overwhelmed by massive drum shades.


And if you’re trying to decipher shade sizes, here’s your cheat sheet. A shade is measured as follows: Top Diameter/Bottom Diameter/Height. So a 12/13/11 shade reflects the lengths in that order.


At a loss for where to start? #TeamNate tends to go for black or white linen shades, often with a slight taper, usually about 1″ difference from top diameter to bottom diameter.


But this could also be your chance to go nuts. Bright colors, inviting textures, patterns you love in small doses? All fair game as long as they speak to you. It could all add up to lighting that makes your room – and you – glow with pride.


Lead image of Chicago home designed by NBA, photography by Roger Davies for The Things That Matter.

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