JDB DIY: Upgrade your Lamp

I always love giving friends little, easy-to-implement design tips so I thought it would be fun to share some of these with you all. Welcome to JDB DIY!

I’ve discussed before that lighting is one of my very favorite parts of home design. It’s amazing the ways in which good lighting can instantly transform the look and feel of a home. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of making changes to the lighting in your home–with visions of emergency calls to electricians dancing in your head–but a simple place to start is with your lamps.

There are a couple of things that bother me about modern laps. First of all, most of them have dreadfully ugly cords and secondly, most lamps have the on/off function buried way up under the shade in the deep nether regions of the lamp. I hate this design because I just feel like I’m sticking my hand up someone’s skirt: awkward! Fortunately these quibbles are easily solved. You can refit any lamp in a snap by either taking it to your local hardware store, or even making the adjustments right there at home if you’re a little more intrepid.

First, if you want to make your lamp truly chic, a twisted, cloth (rayon) covered cord is a must-have. Cloth cord was used for decades on all kinds of household appliances, but has since been replaced with the more utilitarian, durable plastic-covered cord we’re used to today. This is fine if you plan to keep all of your cords hidden away but a twisted cord is much prettier and will add to the look of the lamp. Luckily, spools of it can be found online, like the one here, which we found on eBay. It’ll probably run you about $1.30 per foot so it’s cheap to boot.

Now, about that on-off switch and our ‘up the skirt’ design woe. Fortunately even if your lamp has its switch so placed, you can bypass it with a toggle switch on the cord. If your lamp happens to have the switch on the cord already it may have one of those switches with a wheel function, which everyone struggles with and can be just plain annoying. A simple toggle switch (like the one picture above) is a much better option. These come apart with a small screwdriver and a notch is cut from one of the two wires so that when switched it will make the complete connection. This part might be best to have professional do just to be safe. The switch should be placed at a distance from the base of the lamp so that it falls just off the edge of the tabletop and is not easily visible, five inches from the base at least. It should be easily accessible though, so measure from the base of the lamp to the edge of the table and add another inch or two to be sure it’s completely off the edge but not down too far, you don’t want to pull a muscle reaching for you lamp switch!

These little tricks will do so much to improve the look of your lamps. See for yourself!

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