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. says

    So fabulous!!! I love that this is so ‘you’!!! From the price to the colors and patterns…I’m excited to browse your collection! The fact that we’re in need of a couple additional lighting options is icing on the cake! =)

  2. Courtney says

    Oh wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats to you guys!!!!!!!! How awesome- we’re changing some of the lighting in our house this year, so I know what I’ll be buying now! LOVE LOVE LOVE all the ones I’ve seen so far.

  3. Kate says

    I love these! That big globe one – does it put out a lot of light? We have a dark dining room and the whole one lightbulb thing sorta scares me that it wouldn’t be bright enough.

    • says

      We had the same worry! So far we have been really happy with a clear 60 watt bulb in there. We’ve lived with it a few months now (we had to keep him under wraps until the launch) but we eat in the dining room all the time (and Clara plays with play doh in there, etc) so it seems to work!


  4. says

    OMGISH YOU GUYS ARE SUPERHEROS. Seriously. Congratulations. You put so much hard work into everything that you do, that it’s no wonder that so many great things come your way. So proud (and yes I say that like we’re best friends or something – whatever!) We’re in the planning process of re-doing a room yet, so we’ll soon be in the market for a new light or two. You’ll definitely be the first place I check out! CONGRATS again :)

  5. Kari says

    This is the best news ever!!! I love Shades of Light, but I always get sticker shock when I go there. Now, I can finally go lamp-happy, thanks to ya’ll!! :)

  6. Rebecca says

    Many many congratulations! So awesome. Wish I was in the market. (Well we do kind of hate are dining light…might be time for an upgrade!)

  7. Liz says

    Does the big wire light in your dining room give off enough light at night? I was looking at getting one with three bulbs because wasn’t sure that one bulb would cut it. Thoughts?

    • says

      We had that same worry! John and I were so glad when we fake-shot-it in our dining room in November so we could check if it gave off enough light and we just have a clear 60 watt bulb and it’s awesome! You can even go higher with wattage I think (especially if you use CFLs). Hope it helps!


  8. CohoesMom5 says

    I love the lamps and have been looking for some new ones and your price point is perfect. Even better is that some of them are made here in the U.S. (we try to buy US made stuff as much as possible – even when it costs more). When I am ready to redo our foyer, I will be looking at these lamps.

  9. says

    You. Guys. I am seriously blown away by this collection! We are re-doing our guest room and I was in the market for a new light fixture. Of course I was just going to hit up IKEA (my favorite place ever). But instead I can have a light fixture designed by you all? SOLD. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *