Outtakes: My Interview with Celerie Kemble

Celerie Kemble

Photo courtesy of Douglas Friedman

The week before the holidays, I had the chance to talk *color* with Celerie Kemble, the New York and Palm Beach interior designer whose most recent book, Black & White (and a bit in between), recently landed on shelves. Before long, however, Celerie and I found ourselves discussing, of all things, light bulbs.

With incandescent fixtures on the way out, designers—like the rest of us—are experimenting with compact fluorescents (CFLs), which are known for their sometimes harsh, cool, too-bright light. Not surprisingly, Ms. Kemble has found at least one way of modulating CFLs’ temperature…

Bob Vila: So many homeowners are going to be challenged when forced to use compact florescent bulbs in the coming years. Do you have any thoughts on how to deal with the sometimes unattractive light that they produce?

Celerie Kemble: Well, I am still operating on a faith-based hope they are going to figure out how to case [CFLs] in something that makes them prettier. But, in the meantime, I am very reliant on well-made lampshades that have a soft pink or warm yellow lining that diffuses that bright white light.

Bob Vila: I had a decorator friend, Robin Peterson, who would fill the bathtub with hot water, throw in a box of tea bags, and then dunk her lampshades. Is that still a good idea?

Celerie Kemble: Well, I’ve tried to get handy on some lampshades using Rit Dyes. I was worried the tea bag thing would make the lampshades look like they were stolen from the neighborhood funeral home, because aged, drab yellowing is one of the first signs that a room needs an update. I’ve done the Rit Dyes, though, and they work well with string shades. It’s hard if you can see inside the shade, because a lot of elastic sensor shades are lined with polyester.

Bob Vila: Oh!

Celerie Kemble: Different lamp shades will take the colors differently. So, you have to kind of ‘know your lampshade’ before you do anything.

Read the full interview: Talking with Celerie Kemble