Saturday, July 13, 2013

Light Up My Room

A couple years back I wrote a post about modern design store inspiration. Bob and I took a walk through the Chicago stores that offered a little something different in the way of furniture, albeit typically with a price tag to match. On the trip, we ended up finding the dining room table of our dreams. Cut to one year later: we had pulled the trigger and placed an order.
This time around, our strolls through the stores focused in on lighting fixtures. We'd like to overhaul the lighting situation in our condo over this next year. With poor natural light in our northern facing unit, the interior options we give ourselves are of even more importance. Track lighting runs throughout, but it is not without its issues:

1) The ceilings are so high in the dining area that we have never been able to reach the tracklights above our table. 
You might ask, "can't you just get one of those handy dandy poles that allows you to screw lightbulbs in?" The answer is, "We wish." The tracks the bulbs are placed on aren't simply screwed in, but need to be manhandled through a plastic rim to snap into place. I fear for Bob's life when he is up on that ladder. So the plan is to remove those track lights and ceiling fan and replace with a statement piece pendant of some sort.
2) The fan above the living room gives off a terrible clicking sound.
We'd like to replace it with the Minka Aire Gyro Twin Fan we found online around the time we moved into our place. Saving up our Amazon gift cards from various credit card rewards for this one.
3) If the lights and fan are both on, our bedroom turns into a horror movie set as the fan passes through the light streams, causing a pseudo-strobe light effect.
I'm also realizing I don't think I ever have written about the car lift hanging above our bed. Our building started out as a soap factory in the early 1900s, but then became a car mechanic or something along those lines. Our unit contains the car lift contraption, and you can see the garage door outline along our bathroom and closet walls. Yes, this hangs above us while we sleep. At least it will be a good story if it ever decides to come loose in the middle of the night. What a way to go....
4) We wait until at least three lights are out before we deem it worth the effort to get the ladder out.
Step 1: Grab the tall ladder from the building's stairwell.
Step 2: Maneuver it through the hallways and angle it into our apartment.
Step 3: Re-learn how to unfurl the legs and manage to get it to stand up right.
Step 4: Move all of our furniture around to make room for the ladder.
Step 5: Remove old light bulb and place on counter.
Step 6: Forget which one was the new light bulb.
Step 7: Jam the bulb back into place (seriously, this track light design will be the death of us).
Step 8: Don't die while climbing back down the ladder.
Step 9: Stare at the ladder and hope it will put itself back in the stairwell.
To lessen the harsh overhead we deal with (even with a dimmer, it can be a bit glaring), we have added a little bit of lamplight to our living area in recent weeks. This guy, inherited from Bob's uncle and dubbed "The Concrete Lamp", had moved with us four times before it earned a spot outside of the closet or storage area. The shade and base were intact, but we were missing a piece to sit the shade on the base. A quick trip to a lamp supply store just a few miles away finally solved our problem. The purchase of a glass cone for the shade to sit on gave us a little bit of a Mad Men vibe alongside our couch.
Okay, onto the inspiration. First up, Circa. The Eugene Pendant Light caught our eye - the brushed nickel and industrial look seemed like a natural fit for our loft. We could easily picture three hanging down in a row over our dining room table. 
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One of the must-haves for our lighting and fan options will be flexibility with how far the wiring/cables will reach. We're looking to hang these in the tallest parts of our house and need to know the fixtures won't look out of place hanging down so low.

The next stop was Artemide. Bob had perused this place the previous week and brought home a stack of information including sell sheets and catalogs. 

He prefers the IN-EI Collection by Issey Miyake, specifically the Fukurou. I agree that it could definitely start some conversations, but try as I might, I just don't think it is my style. I have never been a fan of the "paper" look in lamps. Granted, this is much more than your average World Market lampshade, but it still wasn't speaking to me. We'll see if I come around on it!
However, one we both agreed on was the Ernesto Gismondi Nur. Available in three sizes and three colors, we are thinking two medium or three small above the dining room table.
My question is, can we get away with two fixtures, or do we need to follow the "things are better in three's" rule of design? The images I have been finding on a google search of the Nur in actual rooms leads me to believe the answer is yes. Another option would be to put a third one above the kitchen island. 
photo source
After Artemide, we wandered through Luminaire. Although our attentions turned to chairs after spying a unique piece that I'll detail shortly, this pendant also caught our eye. The Skygarden light has a cut plaster interior shaped into a garden scene, something you wouldn't see unless looking up into it. 
photo source
But what we found ourselves drawn to at Luminaire had nothing to with lighting. Right as we walked in, these dining room chairs begged us to sit down (yes, we're still looking for dining room chairs). The Jenette by Fernando & Humberto Campana features a backrest made of thin stalks of flexible PVC. You might be thinking, "wait, what?" But hidden support within the material actually makes this quite the comfortable seat. These would be cool statement pieces, but I also had visions of a two-year old grabbing one of the stems and bending down until it broke off or became frozen at a forever misshapen angle. 
The Juno chairs seemed a little more realistic for our lifestyle (and wallets). These plastic chairs come in orange, one of the colors we would be interested in for our set of 6. The truth is, we want hot pink chairs. But that color is few and far between in the styles we look at, so orange may end up being our compromise. We have been surprising quite a few furniture store sales reps with a request for hot pink chairs over the last year!
Another round of inspiration under our belts, time will tell with what styles we settle on!

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