Shopping for lighting online with long distance friends

Joan Fieldstone

August 6, 2014

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior Design

If you don't work with an interior designer or home decorator, you are definitely on your own when looking for the decor you have in mind for your home. For some of us, that's not a problem. The hunt is the best part, and shopping with a friend is twice the fun. You can discuss and suggest, going back and forth until your friend understands almost as well as you do exactly what you have in mind. The problem is, many of my favorite shopping pals are scattered all over the country -- even the globe. Thankfully, these days that's not a problem at all.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my friend who has homes in several parts of the world and how she's in the process of remodeling a condo she owns in Hawaii. I mentioned that while visiting with me, she scored an amazing glass wall sconce that was a closeout, but no one ships to Hawaii, so she had to hand-carry it back.

She still needs at least two more sconces plus a flush-mount ceiling light, and from what she's told me the pickin's are slim when it comes to great decorating options in the islands -- at least affordable ones. She'll be back and forth to the mainland and Hawaii again before the remodel is complete, so I thought I'd spend some time hunting online for something she can have shipped to her and that she can carry with her next time. After spending those few hours shopping with her in person when she was visiting, I have a fair idea of what she is looking for based on her needs and taste. Her requirements, however, are somewhat challenging.

Porcelain wall sconce
Porcelain sconce courtesy of Justice Design Group

The lighting fixtures can't have metal decoration because of the "sea air," which is notorious for ruining metal finishes. In addition to having an "organic" look and feel, they have to provide most of the artificial light in the room, not just look pretty and atmospheric. The ceilings are low, so the contractor has told her that the ceiling light must be a flush mount, but she hates the way flush mount ceiling lights have that finial smack in the middle of the shade to hold them together. Choices in my city's local shops were limited, and while the city she calls home when she's on the U.S. mainland has plenty of upscale options, they're costly.

It's nice to be able to shop together long distance online and share all the possible lighting choices that might fit her specs. When we were younger, we couldn't have done this. There was no Internet and no social media. Now if I see something while surfing the net, I can pin it to a "secret" Pinterest board that only we can share. She can access my finds and offer up her own for my opinion when she's able to get online.

In about a half-hour's time today I found at least 25 good possibilities she might like and afford, something that would have taken days of hiking around a major metropolitan area not so long ago. I am not one of my generation who thinks the Internet and all electronic gadgets are keeping people apart. I'd say it's quite the opposite, in fact. I can see my friend in person only about once a year, but thanks to technology I can shop with her 24/7 no matter where in the world she calls home.

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