Crowning touch

Crowning touch
1. A lacquered wood lamp ($19.99), with a trio of paper shades, from Target.
2. Linen shades in orange ($66), turquoise with trim ($55), lime ($77.75), red plaid ($45) and red ($85), from Fantasy Lighting, Los Angeles, (323) 933-7244.
3. Antique bronze floor lamp with striped, dupioni silk shade ($775), from Zipper, Los Angeles, (323) 951-0620.
4. Bel-Air ceramic lamp in baby blue with paper shade ($795), from Jonathan Adler, Los Angeles, (323) 658-8390.
5. Freda Koblick’s lamp with illuminated resin base and lime green shade ($1,250);
6. amorphous alabaster vase lamp with yellow shade ($1,800);
7. Austrian ceramic horse lamp with gold foil-lined black shade ($1,500 per pair), Modern One, Los Angeles, (323) 651-5082. (Photo Illustration by Myung J. Chun / LAT)
Over the past decade, lighting has become a background player in home décor. Most of today's lamps, cast in simple metal shapes or drab blocks of wood and topped with white shades, are quietly tasteful but make no lasting impression.

A new lampshade can be a quick fix for those generic contemporary lights, adding a shot of color and personality to any room.

Decorators have used this trick for ages. Some slip off to Fantasy Lighting on Melrose Avenue and return with cellophane-clad shades to wow their clients. More enterprising types design custom shades from the venerable Maxine's (4160 Beverly Blvd., L.A., [213] 385-7824), where the proprietress has an eye for shape and proportion equal to that of any couturier. At such specialty stores, the most adventurous opt for bright citrus shades made from burlap, linen and silk that match — or purposely clash — with lamp bases and wall paint.

Now anyone can find shades in every shade at large retailers such as Target, at prices low enough to encourage experimentation. Or you can pick up elegantly turned candlestick torchiers and curvaceous table lamps with couture shades at haute home shops including Zipper and Jonathan Adler.

Want to create more drama? Rediscover the joy of mid-century items, such as black shades lined with gold foil that cast a warm glow on the sculptures below. Or make a bold commitment to color with a 1960s lamp with an illuminated resin base by California artist Freda Koblick: Glowing like a column of jewels, it demands to be crowned with a lime green shade.