When my husband and I moved from Berlin to London in 2018, our flat was about half the size and three times the cost of our previous home. It was littered with remnants from the previous tenants that no one had bothered to remove: a four-seater brown couch and matching ottoman that took up half the living room, a wobbly wire bed frame, oppressively dark and heavy curtains, and a weird contraption called a “Dri Buddi.”
Because we had moved from another country, we had virtually no furniture to our name. Leftover goods can be useful when you’re starting from scratch, but to us, the new flat was a blank cream-coloured canvas filled with potential, and we were determined to make it our own. Yet the sudden increase in bills meant we had to take up the arduous task of deciding what we could keep from this pile of hand-me-downs and what desperately needed to be replaced. Each oddment posed us the question: Do we save money or rescue space?
Our goal was to go minimal and bring in some airiness. With that in mind, we convinced our landlord to paint a gentle white over the cream walls that gave the impression of cigarette-related yellowing, and we got rid of the murky couch and curtains. We swapped them for a grey sofa bed we found on made.com that matched the freshly painted cool tones of our walls and ordered custom light grey blinds from Amazon. But amongst these functional, minimal purchases was a chameleonic lampshade that made our house a home.
As my husband and I both have degrees in art, we often find ourselves attracted to uncommon materials that play with light. Whilst researching furniture to buy, we came across this made.com lampshade that had an unassuming iridescent reflective interior. It was white and minimal with clean lines on the outside and subtly colourful on the inside, refracting light to omit warm and cool hues depending on the time of day, like an analog Philips Hue. It was a £32 purchase that made our rented home a reflection of who we were — a way to imprint our personalities without risking our deposit.
[Editor’s note: The white Oro lamp shade is currently out of stock, but you can purchase the grey version. Alternatively, you can sign up to a waitlist for the white shade.]
Iridescence isn’t something you’d typically find in “adult” homes. In this respect, the lampshade teeters dangerously close to the edge of gaudy. That’s also what makes it fun. It could have easily been more garish than aesthetic, but because of its minimal exterior, and because the inside is so pleasantly reflective, it matched everything in our flat — even the ornate ceiling medallion around the base of the light fixture.
Besides, on a visit before we officially moved to the U.K., we attended an event at the St. James Hatcham Building at Goldsmiths College in South London. Its front doors and windows were covered in a dichroic film, making the glass display a multitude of colours depending on the lighting conditions and one’s position relative to it. It looked divine contrasted against the ornate architecture of the deconsecrated church, and we promised ourselves that when we had a home of our own we could renovate, this is what we’d get. The iridescent lampshade offered a taste of this promise, changing colours in daylight and emitting a reflective glow when the light was turned on, hinting at the effect we were after (and a kind of “see you soon” to the flat we one day hoped to own) without hundreds of pounds spent.
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