Shady Business

You know the $herdog in me wanted to make that title a Slim Shady reference, right? Anyway, we’ve actually been working on a secret project for over 14 months and we finally get to spill the beans. Jazz hands don’t even begin to cover it. See, back in October 2011 Shades of Light asked us to help them design a lighting collection. And we said “who, us?” quickly followed by a “yes please!”

When it came to our goals, we really wanted to keep things casual, playful, happy, and – the biggest challenge – within our budget. Which broke down to keeping the entire collection under $99. There are even $3 add-on items to spice up the lamps that you already have (you know we love using what you’ve got). But keeping prices under that $99 mark (especially on larger lights, like chandeliers that are 2 feet wide) was a tall order. Shades of Light sells a ton of fancy $400+ designs, but they were amazingly willing to get all hands on deck to inch prices as low as possible without compromising quality, and we LOVE them for that. It was hard to mash all of the lights our bundles of joy into this post, so you can click here to browse our full collection of shades, pendant lights, and decorative add-ons.

Not only do side gigs like this help us provide for our family, they’re some of the most exciting work that we get to do (you know when we’re not juggling house projects, blog posts, book stuff, and playing with The Bean and The Burgs). Switching gears keeps us creative and it’s always fun to try something new, so projects like this are the icing on the DIY cake. Well, playing with Clara & Burger land in that category too. Which is fitting because these lights are sort of like our babies.

Here are a few “studio shots” of some of our kiddos. The apples of our eye. Picture us grinning like proud parents watching their child play “Tree #2” in the elementary school play.

That’s not all of them, so here’s the whole collection for ya. The coolest thing about this collaboration is that Shades of Light is based right here in Richmond, so it was a local affair. They came over to our house and we dropped by their headquarters a bunch of times over the course of the last year to draw sketches, look at prototypes, sample paint colors, see the products in action, and even shoot them in our own home for their online shop and their catalog.

Which means many of the lights are made/wired/painted right here in good ol’ Virginia! But of course they ship ’em nationally on their site in case you’re not a local (you can even call them for overseas shipping rates). So… woot! It’s pretty exciting to think that our babies are going to be making little pilgrimages to other cities across the country. Well, assuming people buy them. Haha.

As for Clara’s job, she played the role of quality control. When we asked her to pick her favorite one of the guys in the photo above, she kept changing her mind. She’s like her momma. She wants to rub her face on all of them.

The most exciting part of the entire process was when we finally got to shoot some of the finished lights in our house back in November (right between two book tour stops) to see how they looked  “in situation” and to use some of those images for the Shades Of Light catalog. This is a farmhouse pendant that comes in a bunch of happy colors. Doesn’t the pink one look sweet when it’s fake-hanging over our the sink?

How did we fake it? Well, see the green-shirted guy on the stool in our kitchen? He actually held the mercury glass pendant that hangs over our sink out of the shot while they snagged a picture of the pink one that you see in the photo above (clamped to a rod above the sink so it appeared to be hard-wired there). It was our kinda shoot. Grass roots and lots of laughing.

Here’s another shot to show the magic of in-house photoshoots. See that giant reflector in the foreground and those three lights all clamped up to a rod that was later cropped out of picture? It’s so funny how we look at catalogs like Pottery Barn and think “oh man those rooms are so amazing and clean” – but in reality they must look at least this crazy from afar, thanks to all of the magical behind-the-scenes gear.

Here’s how those drum pendants actually looked in the photographer’s final shot. Oh and spoiler alert, we bought the scallop pendant in the middle. We couldn’t resist. We’re actually planning to hang it right in the window that you see here.

And remember the chandelier that we gave you a sneak peek of in Monday’s holiday post? Yup, it’s part of our collection. He’s one of our favorites.

We bought it as soon as the catalog shoot wrapped up in our house. At $89 for such a large chandelier (it’s two feet wide!) we thought it was a great deal, and it looks awesome with the oil-rubbed bronze glass pendants over our nearby peninsula. It also comes in a bunch of other colors beyond the rusty bronze finish that we went with (they’re painted locally in colors like plum, dark teal, white, black, gray, and red by an awesome lighting artisan).

One of the coolest “special effects” from it are the shadows that it casts on the ceiling if you use a clear bulb (if you don’t love them you can use a frosted bulb for a softer look).

And you know Burger is our muse, so… this happened. Yup, dude has his own chihuahua-riddled shades in a bunch of colors. We wanted things to be flexible for someone who might just want a shade for a table lamp or floor lamp that they already have, so we asked Shades of Light to sell the shades alone as well as with a finished pendant kit for hanging them (the full pendant kit even comes with a ceiling canopy, so it’s all ready to hang). People gotta have options. And chihuahua shades.

And see those sculptural white metal diffusers under each of these geometric-ish ikat shades? Those were another add-on that we thought could spice up someone’s life light. Say you already have a pendant light at home but want a little more flair – one of these (in either the hex pattern or the quatrefoil pattern) can definitely up the ol’ lighting ante.

We loved adding small (and inexpensive) DIY options, like these $3 add-ons. They’re basically decals (fancy word: appliques) that we thought would be fun on a lamp base that you might already own (or one you could score at a thrift store and spray paint in a solid color). So whether you’re into a white, black, or yellow bee shape; a favorite number in black or white; or even scalloped patterns that you can use alone or layer like crazy, you’re covered. Can’t you see a big white #7 on a navy lamp base? Or a white bee on a cheery yellow gourd lamp?

And now for a Burger story. Remember way baaack when we posted this picture of Burger for Thanksgiving in 2011? Well, that half-loaf of Panera bread that he snuck off with was actually from one of our first meetings for this project. The Shades of Light team was over at our house and we were excitedly talking about colors, fabrics, and shapes when Burger snuck ONTO THE DINING TABLE and grabbed it without any of us seeing him until it was way too late. Sneaky little bugger. It was the first and last time he had such brazen food-stealing confidence. Thank goodness. Just look at the regret in those big brown eyes…

So that ends our little 14-months-in-the-making collection o’ lights, shades, & add-ons. Oh and to anyone who isn’t currently shopping for lighting or doesn’t have any money to spend, we also hoped this collection would inspire the DIYers out there – perhaps just to paint a metal pendant or lamp base that you already have – or even to make little personalized decals to spice up a lamp base in some personal way.

And now for some gushy love for you all. We’d never be “here” without you, and for that we’re eternally grateful. To think that this all started with one little blog post back in 2007 is crazytown, and we’re so grateful to you guys for making it possible. Oh heck, you guys are like our babies too. Come to momma, I feel a hug coming on…


  1. liz says

    That’s awesome, you guys! So funny, because for YEARS I’ve been looking for a huge (affordable) wire pendant to go over our stairway, but we just moved and don’t need it anymore!

  2. says

    Ohhh my goodness! I am so happy for you guys! I gotta say I was almost in tears when I read this. Embarrassing I know. You are awesome and I simply cannot wait to purchase some! Wahoo!

  3. says

    WOW! And CONGRATS to you both! Those are really amazing and the price point is great. You are so good at keeping secrets, I could never do your job. I was excited to learn about the sneak peek above the dining room table but never fathomed this news.

  4. says

    Seriously guys! Is there anything you aren’t amazingly good at?? Blogging, book writing, paint pickers, now lighting designers! I so wish I was in the market for some new lighting now. Congrats on this amazing opportunity!!

  5. Dianne says

    LOVE your collection! Each piece is perfect – especially love the cut-out colorful shades. Sure this collection/partnership won’t be your last. My next site: “Shades of Light” to spend that Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket.

  6. braelin says

    This is SO COOL! That is all. You two rock. I’m so excited for you (and for me/other people questing for awesome lamps…)!

  7. Susan says

    OH MY GOODNESS! So many lovely lamps I’m swooning over! My favorites are the pretty farmhouse lights and the giant orbs lights. Have a feeling the giant orbs will be one of your best sellers! How exciting for you guys!!

  8. Anne says

    Very cool! I love the colorful drum shades!! Perfect for our new nursery. And yet I can’t stop wondering how you get it all done….amazing! I can barely get out of bed some mornings. Very impressed!

  9. Stephanie says

    You guys are amazing! Congratulations on such wonderful accomplishments!

    I’m curious though, because I’m not smart enough to really figure it out… The lightbulb legislation – do you know if the clear lightbulbs like this will be banned? I worry that every fixture I have with exposed lightbulbs will have to have those whirly, ugly (though energy efficient) ones. Do you have a better understanding of the bulbs that will still be legal without going to Texas to buy them?

    • says

      Oh yes, CFLs, halogens, and LEDs are perfecting the art of making clear normal-looking bulbs too, so if/when there’s a ban there will be pretty eco options to fill in (they won’t all be curly – in fact there are some great alternatives even now). Hope it helps!


  10. says

    I clicked on the link to your collection before I finished reading the post and saw the light that’s in your dining room. Now I get it, haha! But I must say, WOW how exciting! The lights look fantastic!

  11. Shannon says

    Long time reader, first time commenter! AMAZING! You continue to surprise and inspire me. And just in time as I’m looking to purchase a few new lights. I having trouble picking a favorite! Thanks for the blog – it’s my daily pick me up!

  12. says

    OMG what great news…and those shades are awesome. Now I want to change every single shade in our house. haha. I’m very happy for you guys. Love the prices too and all the “extra” ideas. Now my wheels are turning to do something in our home. :)

  13. Lisa E says

    Wow, I’m seriously impressed with how far you have come, not that you don’t have the skills………… Congratulations! So happy for you!

  14. Kay says

    To borrow an overused internet meme, ERMAGHERD! This is so exciting! The collection is beautiful and oh so very stylish but I’m most impressed that you collaborated with a business while still being true to yourself. A lot of people can’t pull that off but you have and the results are stunning!

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