Accent lighting brightens the mood - The Star Toronto

By: Vicky Sanderson Homes, Published on Sat Nov 15 2008

Dark, short days are one of the downsides to November. The upside is that it's easy to add a touch of sparkle to a dim day or dreary corner with great accent lighting.

One of the prettiest and most affordable is Ikea's new Knubbig table lamp by Japanese designer Michiko Nakata. With a delicate floral design, this lamp comes in 4.5- and eight-inch models, which sell for $10 and $17, respectively, and is available in yellow, frosted white, turquoise, black and a soft pink that casts a warm, flattering shade that's perfect for a bedroom or powder room.

Just as pretty, but considerably pricier, is a chandelier from Liv, the new lifestyle store opened by Joanna Goodman, who also owns the luxury bedding store Au Lit Fine Linens. Goodman's new store offers clothing, tableware, soaps and books, as well as a large selection of reproduction French brocante furniture. Each vintage chandelier, made of painted metal, has been restored in Au Lit's Montreal studio, where it's embellished with porcelain roses, beaded chains and crystals. Prices are in the $800 range.

Hampton Bay's three-light ball pendant in a classic brass finish, with deco-inspired scroll work, would also shine a welcoming light overhead. About $170 from Home Depot.

For defining architectural features and built-in pieces, there's Flatlite, a cool new electroluminescent lighting product. Made with phosphor crystals that light up when exposed to an electrical current; it's the same technology used in the past to make automobile panels and timepieces glow in the dark. The modern incarnation works for everything from under-the-counter, to kick-splash, to pathway lighting, and can even be sandwiched in between layers of glass and other materials to create beautiful backlit surfaces.

Paper-thin, flexible and cool to the touch, Flatlite can be customized in pieces up to 75 square feet, and even larger panels can be made by seaming several panels together. According to Mathew Bartlett of Nu-World, the Canadian distributor of the product, it will also last for about 20,000 to30,000 hours, and won't develop the dark spots that can occur with LED strip lighting.

Until recently, this technology has only been available for architectural applications. It's not likely to be found on the shelves of your local home improvement store soon. Fortunately, Nu-World works with consumers and designers to provide product and installation information. For larger commercial jobs, the company will also do on-site visits anywhere in Canada to help oversee installation.

Michelle Lynn Johnson's Fairy Lights are made from the dried leaves of rubber trees from Thailand wrapped around low-watt incandescent bulbs. According to Johnson, the lights are a common sight there, where they're used in homes and incorporated into the altars that sit in front of many businesses. Johnson has trimmed her entertainment cabinet with them, which she says creates a perfect light for watching movies.

Lights are shipped flat, and the leaves must be spritzed with water to reshape them. A 10-foot string costs $30 and comes with white, purple, yellow or multicolour bulbs. For info, go to

To add a twinkle to a newly bare tree, try a string of Aurora Glow Solar String Lights. These hand-blown glass-orb lights come with clear luminescence bulbs with either white or yellow LED lights, or with a sea-green glass bulb with a white LED.

Because they operate with a solar panel that can be planted or mounted up to 13 feet from the first light on the string, there's no need for fiddling with electrical cords, and adding a little touch of beauty to the yard won't add to the electrical bill. (Just make sure the panel is placed to receive direct sunlight during the day.) At night, a photosensor automatically turns the lights on.

Each string of six lights comes with a solar collector, six copper hanging hooks, one plastic stake and a battery. The set, which costs $49, is available from Rittenhouse, an online agricultural and garden product company based in St. Catharines.

A few years ago, The Brilliant Gift, a small company out of Brantford, made a splash at the local home shows with decor lamps made from beribboned glass blocks. Since then, they've has been selling across North America and as far away as Great Britain. Initially, the lamps were primarily holiday-themed. But the company has added two products to the line, and plans to add more colours and designs early in 2009. New right now are Urban block, which has handmade coloured glass fused to the surface, and a Cosmos model that incorporates black-and-white fused glass. Each eight-inch block is wrapped in leatherette and sells for $57.


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