Home in Brief

A contemporary classic finds new life in a commercial space, but they’re just as stunning at home. Plus, cool kids’ beds and how to spice up your winter landscape.

Timeless bubble lamps are popping up at
local businesses and homes.
Photograph provided by Vassar Interiors
in Wilmington.

Lite Brite
A contemporary classic finds new life in a commercial space, but they�re just as stunning at home.

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Customers at the old Ranch House restaurant have noticed a few changes lately, including new cherry red chairs and stainless steel accents. But among the most stylish changes at the newly christened Lucky�s Coffee Shop & Restaurant are those dangling from the ceiling.

Dubbed the �Brady Bunch lights� by one customer, they are George Nelson bubble lamps, which the famed architect-designer created in 1947. The modern lights were first produced by Howard Miller, which continued into the 1970s. They made a comeback in the 1990s, when Modernica began reissuing them. Delaware-area residents may have noticed similar designs in the old National restaurant�now The Exchange�in downtown Wilmington.

Lucky�s co-owner Mickey Donatello, who also owns the Corner Bistro, has always loved the lamps� classic look. He is not alone. �They are and have been extremely popular items,� says Adam Vassar of Vassar Interiors in Wilmington�s Ships Tavern District, which offers pendants and floor-standing models.

What�s the appeal?

�They have that warm glow,� Donatello says. �They�re reminiscent of Chinese paper lanterns.�

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They might look like paper, but they�re actually made of white plastic polymer over steel wire.

�It has an interesting texture to it,� Vassar says. �It has more of nubby quality to it. They have more weight and density than you might think.�

The covering cuts the glare while allowing the soft light to showcase the structure. �The shapes are timeless�there�s something inviting about them,� Donatello says.

Lucky�s has 11 bubble lamps. At home, Donatello hung a bubble lamp from a high ceiling that overlooks three flights of stairs. �You can see it from upstairs, downstairs and in the middle,� he says.

At Vassar, prices start at $239. A 36-inch diameter pendant is $365. For information, call 777-5816.
�Pam George

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Dream Designs
These youth beds add whimsy to any kid�s room.

When JoAnn and Johnny Means� daughter Jacqueline turned 2, she was ready for big girl furniture. But not just any bed or dresser would do. Unhappy with what was available in stores, JoAnn turned to her husband, a woodworker.

�I want her to have a fabulous princess bed,� JoAnn told him. Friends, neighbors and family were so impressed with Johnny�s castle bed that they spread the word.

In only a year, Sweet Dream Theme Beds & Children�s Interiors has people from New York to Florida ordering custom beds.

Girls can climb the stairs to a castle turret where, like Sleeping Beauty, they can snuggle into a soft mattress. (The stair risers make nifty drawers.) When they awake, they can slip down the slide to watch television in a playhouse underneath the bed.

Boys can clamber up a rustic ladder and into a castaways� tree house, complete with thatched roof and palm trees. Sweet Dream has also made a �brave knight� bed for a child with special needs. �We had to do a lot of research,� Means says.

Because beds are made to order, possibilities are plentiful. The Woodland Bed, created for a Manhattan family, features trompe-l��il squirrels at the foot of the turret and flowers winding up the stone walls. �She wanted it to look like it was in a forest,� Means says of the mother. �She wanted the slide to look like a waterfall.�

Means works closely with customers to develop ideas�often taking calls at 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. �The relationship goes from business to personal so quickly,� she says

Most of the work is done by phone, but the woman who ordered the castaway bed flew from Phoenix to collaborate on the design.

The creations can accommodate twin-, full- and queen-size beds, as well as bunks. Beds are built to room specs.

Most customers find Sweet Dream online. Though customers can assemble the beds, many hire the Sweet Dream crew to put them together. The couple regularly travels to Florida, where the bed is a big seller.

Beds start at $4,000. Prices can go well over $15,000. �We do have some clients who are not well-to-do, but they�ll break the bank for their kids,� Means says. �It�s nice.� For more, visit www.sweetdreambed.com.
�Pam George


Winterberry holly seems to glow with red berries.
Photograph by Karin Arentzen – Delaware Master Gardner

Turn That Brown Upside Down
No garden need go drab in winter.

A lack of blooms in the garden or yard doesn�t have to bring the winter blues.

Eva Rotmann-Oehler, a master gardener with the Delaware Cooperative Extension, says a little thinking outside of the flower box can spice up a dreary winter setting.

�Interest in the landscape does not have to come from green grass and flowers,� she says. �You must look outside and be satisfied with what you�ve created.�

Begin by identifying a favorite window in the room you use most during winter months. The view will frame your landscaping area. Design from there.

�If you plan right, you can create shelter and food for wildlife,� Rotmann-Oehler says.

Evergreens are a natural choice because they provide contrast to the browns of dormant grass and flower beds. But trees don�t need leaves to lend interest to a landscape.

�Attractiveness comes out in some trees during winter when they lose their leaves,� Rotmann-Oehler says. �A tree can be interesting in its form or because the bark is striking.�

The Japanese maple�s branches appear red when they are wet. White birch, paper birch and yellow- and red-twigged dogwoods all have attractive bark that is revealed when their foliage falls.

Ornamental shrubs that bloom in winter are also effective. Witch hazel and winterberry holly are popular in this area. �Birds come very early for winterberry,� Rotmann-Oehler says. �And it has a fantastic fruit display.�

The American holly, the state tree, has shiny green leaves and clusters of red berries that are attractive. They also serve as food for robins and other birds.

Rotmann-Oehler suggests resisting the urge to prune decorative grasses, allowing them to provide contrast and form to the surroundings.

To add color to decks, patios or a barren flower bed, plant attractive containers with evergreens. For added pizzazz, the plants can be decorated with lights and ornaments.

Not all aesthetic accoutrements need to be planted. A winding pathway, bench, sculpture, driftwood, arbor�even a birdbath�can liven up your view.

A paved walk and the edge between the lawn and flower beds provide distinct lines that are pleasing to the eye.

On November 13, Rotmann-Oehler will lead a workshop called �Gardening for Winter Interest� at the cooperative extension building on Wyoming Road in Newark. For more information, call 831-2667.��� �Drew Ostroski

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