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Monday, February 18, 2013

baluster lamps



I have found that there are certain shapes that just make me happy.  
Round is one and I incorporate many "round" shapes into my designs (think fishing floats ;) and another is the baluster.  Wood, metal, stone, glass, or concrete... there is just something about the curvy shape that I find beautiful and classic.  Besides the fact that the shape makes me happy I like the repetition throughout the house.  
When I did the post on the ivory escutcheons that Dan made for the antique chest of drawers in the guest room (here) I was asked about the baluster lamp that sits on the chest...

The lamp is made from an antique green glazed-terracotta baluster from Singapore.  
(I see this term misused often, so for the record-  a baluster is a single, individual upright support in a rail whereas a balustrade is multiples of balusters topped by a rail.  This is not a balustrade lamp as I see them called, but a "baluster" lamp.  Pheww... I feel so much better now! :)

We purchased all of our balusters from a wholesale importer in Seattle (for those of you about to ask for the business name, he has since retired, sorry.)  He would travel the world and bring back the most wonderful treasures.   We first found him while living in Portland, Oregon and even after moving to Dallas we would fly up to shop his warehouse.  We would carefully pack and carry the balusters (two per person per trip) in our carry-on luggage to protect them and check our clothes.  (Just like carry-on now, yes?!!)
  Since they were all handmade, no two antique balusters are alike- they each have their own personality and color combinations and I love them all




  Unless you have inherited an antique and have the good fortune to have a family photograph that includes the item, you rarely know where an antique actually came from.  So, when I was presented with photographs of the building that was being taken down where the balusters were from I was ecstatic! We sold many of these baluster lamps in my business (Dan would make them into lamps) and I always included a copy of the photo so that the new buyer would also know the origin of these little gems.
Above the street light in this photograph you can see the rooftop balustrade made up of the glazed terracotta balusters.




Here is a closeup of what they looked like in the railing during demolition.  I'm so grateful that they were saved.




You might have noticed that I used them a lot around the house!  
As a candle holder in the master bath...




As a lamp in the living room...




As a candle holder in the kitchen (love all the oxblood red in this one)...




And, on the terrace table...




And then there is the beautiful, unusual much-coveted blue baluster; much coveted by me!  
The blue baluster has its own story....  I spied it early on at our importer's warehouse and I asked how much it was-  I was told it wasn't for sale.  Don't you hate that?!  He only had one blue baluster in all the years we bought from him .  It became a running joke that every time I was writing my check for all my new treasures I would ask the importer if he was ready to sell it yet.  And, for a good three years the answer was always no.  Then, one day- totally out of the blue, as I hadn't even asked, he asked me if I still wanted it and sold it to me!  I think I shed a tear or two and  I'm sure I looked just like
  THIS on the plane ride home!!!




And, just in case you're not totally convinced of my love for the baluster ;) here are a few more!
This iron baluster on Dan's bedside table was found at the Scott Show in Atlanta.  In Dallas it sat outside (under the eaves) on our patio.  This table was also found at said importer's warehouse!  It too comes with a good story (here)!




This wooden baluster with its original painted patina from an old estate in Highland Park in Dallas is in the South guest room...




And, its cousin is on the bedside table in the North guest room!




This vintage concrete baluster serves as a table base for a copper tray in the master bedroom.

Told ya... I love them everywhere!

60 comments:

  1. I love baluster lamps! Thank you for sharing your collection. They are all so lovely.

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  2. What gorgeous pieces ! Hope you have a great start to your week

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  3. So pretty, I love little end tables and corners where one can place unexpected surprises, little touches of art and elegance and keepsakes. So lovely.
    Lisa
    Leeshideaway.blogspot.com

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  4. Your stories are always so interesting! I do love them- and the lamps!

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  5. Love the lamps, especially. Does the lamp cord hide behind the baluster?
    Or is the baluster drilled? Maybe you can show us the details of the conversion. Thanks so much.

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    1. Carol, We do them both ways depending on the lamp. I usually decide which side I like for the front and then Dan, using a diamond-tip drill bit, will drill through the backside square base of the baluster. However, the baluster in the guest room is "French wired" meaning that the wire hangs down the back.

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    2. Ok, just needing clarification on the wooden baluster. He didn't drill through the baluster? Just through the square base? So the cord is visible, it's just BEHIND the baluster? Is that correct? I have some wood balusters I want to do this to but I didn't know how to drill that long of a hole. Some conversion pics would be great!
      Love your house, Joan, and everything in it!

      Helen

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    3. hi Helen, My apologies... I realize now that I wasn't making this very clear. First the terracotta balusters are hollow on the inside and yes, Dan just drills through a side of the square base to run the wire... usually. As mentioned we have also French wired them having the wire run down the back.
      The WOOD balusters were solid, so yes he did drill a hole through the baluster, then drilled a perpendicular hole from the square base to meet the center hole to allow the cord to exit out the back side (as opposed to coming out underneath the baluster which wouldn't allow the lamp to sit level.)
      To drill the wood baluster purchase a long drill bit, and depending on the height of your baluster you can either drill the center hole all the way from the top down, or you'll have to drill as far as you can and then flip the baluster and drill from the bottom having the holes meet in the middle to get your center hole.

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    4. Thank you so much for the clarification! Makes perfect sense! Helen

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  6. Good to know what you adore and collect it!They all are loverly!

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  7. Such a perfect example of filling your home with the "things you love"! I can feel the echoes of your stories and the shapes, textures and forms here in Salem!

    Cheers,
    John

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  8. Love, love, love those ceramic balusters! How neat that you know their history!

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  9. I would never have guessed what they originally were....love the green...like old copper.

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  10. well that color of green is what makes me happy!

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  11. I smiled reading today's blog and laughed out loud at the Home Goods commercial that was a portrayal of you on the plane. I love your balusters, especially the cobalt blue. Thank you for sharing!

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  12. I love those lamps, and the candleholders. I can see why the blue one is so special! Great story...and so much history with the balustrades! Thanks for writing this! ;)

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  13. I love the knowing the history behind your gorgeous balusters!
    Those green ones are my favorite, but they are all beautiful.

    xo
    Brooke

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  14. I love how you made these into lamps. I think it is so special that you also have the picture of where they came from.

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  15. Since we will be in antiques heaven in the area of NY we will be moving to .. I will remember to keep an eye out for a baluster or 2 .. Who knows, my next home might have some too !
    besos.C

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  16. Love your balusters! I covet each and every one, lamps and candleholders. Could you tell me about your orchids? You seem to have a fondness for them and I'm thinking that if you can grow them indoors in New England I could grow them inside in Indiana. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I've had that asked before and really need to do a post on them. I really don't know a whole lot about them, but maybe something will be helpful to someone. I promise to work on that post:)

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  17. it's true blue/green baluster love for sure! i'll never tire of this architectural form!

    happy monday to you.

    michele

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  18. Hi Joan,
    Love the close-ups! Really enjoyed getting a good look at your oil painting from above your kitchen mantle. Beautiful shade of green in painting! Sara, Ohio

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  19. They ARE magnificent, Joan! I love the colors and patina, and of course, the stories. It's all about the stories, isn't it?
    Wonderful post -- made me smile!
    xo Heidi

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  20. Loved this informative post! As a former English and History teacher, I loved that you taught us the correct use of the word and the history lover in me loves the photo of the house from which they came:) Thank you for taking the time to teach us something new today, Joan!

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  21. Hello Joan, So many great details in these pictures, in addition to the balusters. You can still see these ceramic balusters built into many buildings in Taiwan--like yours, mostly green, but I'll be on the lookout for variations.
    --Road to Parnassus

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  22. I love all your stories behind your home decor. That's exactly how I want my home to be. :) I don't think I'll ever have such a fabulous collection of antiques as you but I sure love seeing and hearing about yours. It encourages me to find things I love! So, thank you! ;)

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  23. I loved this post too Joan. The transformation from baluster to lamp/candlestick is so tasteful. I love
    traditional classic design which can be staid if one is not careful. Additions like these lamps not only
    give the space a bit of history but add tons of character. Bravo I am enchanted once again.

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  24. every single one is absolutely gorgeous joan. they are So You! xo

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  25. Hi, Joan -
    Love, love, love all your baluster lamps and candle holders!! I want the blue one. Wanna trade? :) And I'm so embarrassed: all this time I've been using balustrade. Omgosh!
    xo
    Loi

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  26. Joan, I had noticed your balusters in photos so I'm glad you did a whole post about them. I love hearing how you acquire items.

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  27. LOVE LOVE LOVE the blue baluster.
    Maybe I'll ask you a bunch of times to sell it ;-)
    Thanks for sharing.

    Best,
    Tim

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  28. You sure do have them everywhere! Fabulous! I'm glad you got the green ones from that buildings, but it still hurts my heart to see something like that being torn down.

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  29. Joan,
    Such great stories surrounding the balusters...I like them all but the blue one is especially wonderful.
    Karen

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  30. Joan, I loved all your baluster's but particularly like the blue one. I bet it came as such a surprise when he finally sold it. I feel that you are one of those people that sees something and gets an immediate photo in your head, that is a true talent, one I am trying to work on but it doesn't come natural as it seems to for you. This was such an interesting post. Carolyn

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  31. How wonderful that must of been to see the balusters in their original form. You have transported them to another lovely purpose.

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  32. Joan, Dan, and Ella: Again an informative, beautiful post!

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  33. All of these balusters are beautiful. I especially like the terracotta ones. It makes me melancholy for the ones I left behind in the house I sold in 2009. We had some especially beefy wood ones that were salvaged from an old building and created our own balustrade for a side door entrance. I also had four smaller concrete ones in the garden that I simply forgot to tell the movers to take. I wish I had them now after seeing what fabulous lamps they make.
    Best...Victoria

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    1. Victoria!!!! I had this nagging feeling when I was writing all the different forms of balusters- wood, stone, metal or glass that I was forgetting one element, but it just wasn't coming to me.... CONCRETE!! Of course! And there was one sitting right across the room from me the whole time! I will amend the post to include it!
      I am so sorry that the ones in the garden were left behind... I would be melancholy too

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  34. I love your blog & your house. I always enjoying your posts. You can tell that you put a lot of thought into your decorating. You have wonderful taste. I have a question about your bedspread in your Master bedroom... I know totally random. I have looked for fabric to buy to make my own, but can seem to find what I am looking for. Was wondering if you might could tell me where you found yours?

    All the best... Milisa~

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    1. Milisa- Thank you. The coverlet is by Donna Karan, but unfortunately it is discontinued.

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  35. How wonderful that youhave shared the stories of the balusters!!! I loved reading this. I also love every single one you have in yor home. I remember that HG commercial:) I actually have done that too when I ahve gotten something like that at HG!!! LOVED the pictures of the demolition of the building in Singapore!! XO, Pinky

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  36. Beautiful balusters. Everywhere they look fabulous. The terrace is so pretty with the table.

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  37. They are fantastic Joan... i just bought a few to convert to lamps for my little project in St Remy... I agree, they make the prettiest lamps...
    Yours are gorgeous... xv

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  38. Hi Joan
    What fabulous stories attached to the balusters.So pretty and unique.
    Kind Regards
    Karen

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  39. Love the green (teal) colours...so beautiful, the lamps are stunning...simple and strong. ciao Z

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  40. Now, I', on the hunt for these beauties too. Do you have any suggestions? Love your inspirational stories.

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  41. Would love to be a sponsor, could not find our email.
    Can you
    Email me your contact please
    Thanks in advance
    Jamie Herzlinger

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    Replies
    1. hi Jamie,
      I looked on your profile, but don't see your email address to send to... my address is fortheloveofahouse@comcast.net

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  42. Last year I bought a pair of oversized black wood balusters. I had them wired and fitted as lamps and used off white linen drum shades. With the shades they are 4 feet tall and I use them on the tables on either side of my guest bed. PS...love the image of the terrace. R

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  43. I love these. Very nice. Thanks for sharing. Throughmyporchwindow.blogspot.com

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  44. Just discovered your blog. You do have an eye for detail and can put it in words. As I read of your love for balusters, I couldn't help saying to myself that maybe I do not share the same passion. As I looked towards my decor and all that I could recognise in the shape was ...Balusters :). Lol!

    There ...that is the designer and guide in you ! You can actually put it in words.

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  45. LOVE your collection!! I just purchased some balusters recently and was wondering if you knew of a place in Dallas that will convert them into lamps for me. Thanks!

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    1. Dan would wire all our lamps, but I did use Yangs Double Happiness in the design district for custom shades. I believe they did wire lamps, but don't know if they are just to the trade or are open to the public. You could also try Rutherfords. Oh, and there was a place called Royal Touch on Coit Road we used to buy parts from. They would probably be the most economical source for converting a lamp. Good luck!

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