Follow the light
Right before we moved from the US, a television commercial that we often saw featured a woman in the office of her architect. She held in her hand a kitchen faucet that she slammed down on the architect’s desk and commanded “Design a house around this!” We’re about 100 years late in needing someone to build this house for us, but we still found ourselves in a similar situation to that woman with the faucet. Long before we had signed the sales papers on the house we bought a dining room chandelier and at that point our mission became “Decorate our home around this!”
In a blog post last month I talked about when people move between homes here they typically take everything with them including the lights. All that is often left is a bare bulb hanging from the wall or ceiling as was the case in our dining room and pretty much in every other room. Since our dining table is visible from the street through our front windows, we wanted an especially attractive light and found it at a local store that specializes in lighting. We both spotted this gold-leaf lamp at the same time and knew instantly that it was perfect. The salesperson saw our enthusiasm and stepped over to say that this had been created by a local artist as a unique showpiece. Reading between the lines: if you want this you’d better buy it now, which we did creating quite the comic scene getting this awkward package on the bus. Of course we’d seen our fellow passengers carrying door frames, 6-foot trees, giant watermelons, and rolled up mattresses, so how weird were we going to be with a lamp?
So how do you decorate around gold leaf? We already had the dining table and chairs from the nearby brocante (vintage/antique/flea market, your choice) so that left the adjoining living room. Since we live in the south of France, I was hoping for inspiration from those Mediterranean colors of blue, terracotta, and yellow. That’s going to work in our courtyard but for indoors we went more for a gentlemen’s club look. No, not THAT kind of club with animal prints, smoky mirrors, and sparkly lights. More like aged leather chairs, dark mahogany woods, and deep, subtle colors. We’ve continued the theme in the den where we’ve surrounded the fireplace with plush upholstered chairs, dark wooden tables, and subdued lighting from copper-shaded lamps. It’s the perfect spot for an after-dinner cognac or even a daily language lesson, far from any interruptions.
This past summer in our rental house we often had the windows open to let in the wonderful, cooling breezes. Passers-by would frequently look in and sometimes comment to us on the unique chandelier hanging over the dining table there. Keeping with the trend, we look forward to conversing with our new neighbors and visitors alike this summer with this new hanging lamp. It should make a great conversation starter in any language.