Getting the light just right

Finding fixtures and lamps for period-influenced interiors can be just as important as choosing the furniture.

"The biggest misconception I hear is that ‘I can't afford period lighting,' " Lara Spencer says. "But the truth is you can find really nice vintage fixtures for the same as or not much less than some mass-market reproductions if you just know where to look."

She thinks of lighting as the "jewelry" that finishes a room — "a fun way to make a big statement," she says. She suggests taking risks.

"You may not have the courage to cover a sofa in turquoise, but a pair of turquoise lamps will give your room lots of color impact," she says. "And if you decide to go more muted later on, it is a lot easier to find new lamps than to reupholster."

Spencer relies on an array of sources for authentic period lighting or retro-style reproductions. A few of her favorites:

Retail stores: Interior Illusions in West Hollywood, Blueprint in Los Angeles, Room Service in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, and Design Within Reach stores.

Websites: Spencer prefers as well as the auction sites and

Estate sales: Check classifieds on Friday to find weekend estate sales in neighborhoods known for midcentury homes. "Chances are, you can find a gem," Spencer says.

Flea markets: It takes time to scour Southern California's network of flea markets, but Spencer says they have yielded great finds.

Debra Prinzing