Q: In refurnishing my bedroom, I've learned that it's the little things that can cause the biggest problems. Right now, for instance, I'm having trouble finding the right kind of lamp for reading in bed. The only good ones I've seen are the polished-brass swing-arm models. They're common in modern hotels, but my bedroom has traditional styling. What should I do?
A: For reading in bed, it is hard to equal the flexibility of the wall-hung swing-arm lamp. And while I understand your reluctance to mix styles, let's face it -- lighting is a product of modern technology and often works best when packaged in a modern design. Only the strictest purist would object to the presence of a contemporary lamp in a traditional room.
Still, not all swing-arm lamps look as though they belong on a student's desk. You can find something considerably more stylish than that.
Perhaps you'll like the kind that comes with a fabric or paper shade. Whether it clips on or is built into the lamp, a shade made of such material will produce a more diffused ambient light than will the brass shade that's often found on swing-arm lamps. A fabric or paper shade also serves to soften the metallic appearance of the adjustable arm.
Wall lamps are now available in a large assortment of finishes. The possibilities range from durable baked-on colors to antique-like sheens.
If these variations on contemporary styling fail to satisfy your traditional taste, you might consider something like the lamp shown in the photo. It was designed by Sandy Littman, president of the American Glass Light Co. The New York-based firm produces fixtures that mesh stylistically with today's most popular interior designs.
American Glass' more traditional models are sometimes derived from the motifs of antiquity: griffins and urns, for example. The lamps themselves make use of the latest in technology even as they hark back to an era long before electricity.
The neo-classical appearance of this particular swing-arm lamp results from its combination of details, including a silk shade trimmed with a braided cord.