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We've blogged before about the wonderful shade designs from A' Homestead Shoppe. Located in the small, northern Indiana town of La Paz, the company has made a reputation with its homey, folk-art style shades and lighting. We talked with product development team member Cathy Clough to learn more about the company and its products.
Q: It's wonderful that A' Homestead Shoppe is located in a small farming town. Where does the name of the company come from?
A: The company was started in 1974 by President and owner, Bruce Albert. Bruce's passion for antiques and his innate ability to design product quickly formed a company that has become a leader in the lighting, lampshade and home accents industry. The "A" stands for Albert and the "Homestead" is the geographic setting of the unique corporate environment that AHSI offers its staff, sales representatives and customers. Located on the original Albert farm, corporate offices are uniquely housed in its renovated 1873 circa barn and thousands of different products are warehoused in auxiliary homestead buildings.
Q: My parents are from Tipton, Indiana, not all that far from La Paz. The motifs and visual look of your shades remind me of my childhood trips through the area. How have the traditions of the region inspired your designs?
A: We have a unique situation in that we are smack in the middle of farming country and the region known as the "Crossroads of America", but are also only 2 hours from Chicago with its very urban contemporary big city lifestyle. Although the company was started on the strength of our country look and influenced heavily by our Amish neighbors, more recently we have also created the more traditional and contemporary designs influenced by our proximity to the big city. We also have an awesome product development team who has a great passion for fabrics and the latest trends in the gift and home decorating industry.
Q: What is your favorite new design trend?
A: The trend toward what the industry is calling "countryopolitan" has been great for us. The product, whether a lamp or shade, still has the "homey' country feel but is so much more upscale and trendy and will fit in any décor. The trend in shades with new shapes (drums, rounded corner squares and elongated bells) has also been fun and finding just the right fabrics and in the hot new colors is always a challenge. Again, our design team does a great job of meeting the customer's expectations for what is "in" at the moment.
Q: What's the biggest design mistake people make when choosing a new lamp shade?
A: There is not one specific design mistake but usually people have a hard time getting the correct size or fitting for their particular lamp. Fitting a lampshade washer fitting on a harp with a finial can be tricky. The shade should not overwhelm the base but also must be long enough to cover all hardware at the top of the base. Correct measurements as to the width and height of the shade are very important in fitting the shade correctly.
Probably the other mistake that is made is that customers have a hard time deciding not only the size, but the shape and fabric that will best fit their décor. We have seen a huge demand for more neutral shades. We have tried to accommodate the customer with more neutral tones with some interest in the fabric (a nubby texture or a little embroidery) so that they feel more comfortable in matching with their personal décor.
Q: What's next for your company? Any new designs on the horizon?
A: We are always looking for the next "pet rock with a plug" as our owner is fond of saying. In this economic environment it can be perplexing to appear fresh and new and yet not fall into the craze of the latest fad that will not be around for long. We try to stay on top of the things we think will be more enduring. We love working with furniture stores and decorators for looks that will last but also love our line of novelty lamps that helped to build the company and that our gift store owners have come to depend on us to provide for them. We have had much success with horses, snowmen, roosters and all the fun shades that go with them!!
Enjoy spending time with family and friends this holiday season and let Lamps Plus help brighten your home safely and stylishly with a few quick and easy tips. 1. Be unconventional. Instead of ordinary holiday lights this season, welcome visitors with colored lanterns, classic faux-fruit wreaths, or outdoor winter wall art—all of which warm up your home’s exterior in a unique way.
2. Make it memorable. Shift the focus from food to fun and make lighting the focus of your holiday tablescape. Adorn accent lamps and chandeliers with garland or glass ornaments to reflect the warmth of your home.
3. Lighten the mood. Create a festive atmosphere by filling your common spaces with strands of party lights. Mix stars, teardrop glass balls and other designs to cast wintry images onto your walls. For the kids, add a playful holiday lampshade to your repertoire. 4. Transform the old. Update existing table lamps and chandeliers with red, silver, gold or green lamp shades to capture the holiday sprit. For your every-day mantle, add evergreen candleholders for a festive flare.
5. Accents are key. Make furniture come alive with holiday pillows and throws. For a bolder look, layer different holiday hues or, add a new accent bowl piled high with home decor ornaments as a decorative touch for end tables.
6. Illuminate everything. Whether by traditional candlelight, the realistic flicker of a flameless candle or a battery operated picture light, highlight framed photos of loved ones for everyone to see. 7. Green your holiday. Add a wall dimmer to dining room chandeliers or fixtures to create a warm ambiance and control the amount of energy you use.
Our own Michael Gouel, from Lamps Plus Professionals was interviewed by HGTV at the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Chicago.
Michael explains our exciting custom lighting solutions which you can personalize with your own pictures and patterns.
To view the video, which highlights several other exciting new products as well, go to http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/video_guide. Find the "Video Search" box at the upper left (not the main search bar at the top!), and enter "enlightened kitchen".
In this month's installment of Zodiac fun, we wish a happy birthday to Sagittarius. Spontaneous, optimistic, witty and energetic, these folks are the life of the party! Let's see if we can't dig up a couple items these free-spirited folks will love.
Dear Sagittarius -- We know you love to travel, but now's not the best time. Besides the dollar being weak, we all know you're just trying to avoid the family holiday celebration. Again. Instead, give the fam a hand this year with some ideas for gifts you won't hate.
Sagittarius has the wanderlust, so hopefully a decorative world globe will keep them temporarily amused. At the bottom you'll see poor Atlas still has the weight of the universe on his shoulders. By the way, this punishment was handed down by Zeus, a figure Sagittarius is closely associated with.
The birthstone for this sign is beautiful turquoise. I found this shapely blue urn table lamp to appease our dear Sagittarius. And we have more blue table lamps for you to explore.
Finally, Sagittarius' element is fire. Crafted at blistering temperatures over open flame, blown glass is truly a wonder of design. We have a great selection of art glass lighting and decor products including this red hot mini pendant. Happy Birthday Sagittarius!!
Next month ... prudent and methodical Capricorn.
Post Update: some of the designs written about in this post are no longer available. Use the site links above to browse our latest designs.
For those among us that quickly grow weary of our surroundings, I compiled a list of home decor transformers. These items can keep even the most fickle, new-stimulus-craving decorator satisfied.
1. The Asymmetry Table Lamp with a bold and eye-catching look.
2. Try out a color changing LED light bar. You can accent objects or areas for an easily installed visual change.
3. How appealing are these fillable table lamps. Customize with your own look of the month!
4. Finally, reversible bedding. A simple tweak changes your whole bedroom around.
Wall art is a big part of interior decorating, and it's a wonderful chance for us to express our tastes and personality.
Everything from photography to original paintings, pop art to multi-media designs ... it's like jewelery for your living areas.
Unfortunately, some of these gems are left in the dark by diffuse ceiling lighting or more localized table and floor lamps.
Shine a light on your wall art with picture lights. Lots of styles are available including battery powered models that go anywhere and install in minutes.
A couple things to keep in mind ... Avoid high wattage halogen bulbs (150 watts or higher) which could fade or discolor art work.
And, to really make it "pop", wall art should be lit about three times higher than the background.
Or is it "grey"?
Depends on which side of the pond you're on, but let's not nitpick.
Better Homes and Gardens published a quick nod to neutrals in its September issue, explaining that the color gray can "go from cool to warm, inspired by stormy skies and stones on a boardwalk." Well said!
So, before dismissing this tone as tedious, let's look at a couple ways that the color gray in furniture and lighting can be glamorous!
The color gray on furniture (see above) is sophisticated and a sure-fire way to update the style of any room.
This charming table lamp from Haeger Potteries adds a wave pattern to deep gray for extra visual appeal. A taupe shade warms up the whole package.
Sometime soon, we'll have to take a look at Gray's racy cousin Silver!
We love designer Stacy Garcia's pattern and lighting work, and we're thrilled to be able to offer these stylish, nature-themed designs, brand new from Stacy!
These designs are exclusive to Lamps Plus and are custom printed and hand-made to order. They are currently available on swag pendant chandeliers and table lamps. I dig the Ice Green shade, seen above. They're available in four colors, so take your pick!
Running water has long been thought to have soothing effect on mood. It's all-natural, auditory therapy.
In these turbulent times nature is a balm for the soul. A wall fountain in the bedroom takes on additional appeal. Especially with the dry indoor air of winter and the impending bustle of December. Take a look, the idea may suddenly strike you as well:
When it comes to injecting a little humor into the lighting business, you could always count on one of the most well-known names in the lighting industry, George Kovacs. Mr. Kovacs passed away recently at the age of 80, leaving behind a rich history of design and innovation.
He invented the now ubiquitous halogen torchiere floor lamp and also gave us the whimsical Save Your Marriage wall light and the straight-from-left-field Wobble lamp, which he would dub "half toy, half lamp."
George Kovacs as a company is now part of the Minka Lighting Group, which carries on the tradition of ingenious design that Mr. Kovacs began.
Case in point, the new Boring desk lamp caught my eye. To call a sleek, stylish, functional and refined desk lamp "Boring" is in keeping with the tradition of excellent design without pretense that made Kovacs a household name.
Another one of my favorites is the excellent balance arm desk lamp (see above).
If you have a favorite George Kovacs design, comment and tell us about it!
To learn more about George Kovacs and his career, check out this warm New York Times tribute to Kovacs, which offers a succinct look at his life and career.