TPDD–Tortured Prop Designer Department

I’m Paige Wassel. WAS the Newsletter is your weekly dose of design inspiration, in a cloud of sparkling dust.

One of the quickest ways to make a statement in a cookie-cutter home is to install unique lighting. So here are my favorite finds from ETSY. These are not vintage so you all can snag!

Better lighting is always a bright idea. hehe. hoho.


For more than 100 years, Good Housekeeping has enlisted all sorts of experts—from fiber scientists to registered dietitians—to product test and recommend a myriad of household items. These qualified professionals are tasked with evaluating the products people use in their daily lives. The best of the best get the GH Seal of Approval, which allows the shopper to buy with confidence.

Today, I’m doing the same thing, only with inexpensive, approachable design that I like. The following easy upgrades have received the WAS Permission to Purchase (WASPP, trademark pending) so you can decorate with confidence. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Lampshade Art. Lately I’ve been into lampshades with some personality, whether they’ve been painted with a design or made from a light wood veneer with inlays. It’s so easy to give new life to a boring light fixture with an interesting shade. I’m particularly loving shades in an orange color because they cast such a warm glow, even with cold LED lightbulbs.

  • Fun and Colorful Matting. This is a quick and easy way to upgrade what you already have framed. Layer colored mats to give your photos and prints extra punch. Or, take a small photo and make it dramatic by placing it on a larger, framed wood-grained piece of paper or matting. (Makes a great gift.)

  • Symmetry. There’s nothing wrong with a gallery wall and everything right. But sometimes it’s super pleasing to the eye if you incorporate symmetry, like putting coordinating pieces around a sconce or a piece of furniture.

  • Lamps in Odd Places. My friend Kate keeps a table lamp in an unlit closet and I am obsessed. I love an unexpected little lamp on a shelf or on a kitchen counter because it brightens the whole space. No plug? No problem. Screw in a battery-operated bulb.

  • Hidden Art. Do I prop style my entire life? Yes. That’s why you’ll find little art pieces hidden all around my house, like in cabinets and the pantry. I’ve fought the urge to place art inside my fridge, but my God, some of my tomato prints would look great there.

  • Cork and Chalk Boards. I love to see a partial wall of either of these in a kitchen, covered in menus, notes, inspo photos, etc. At your next gathering, leave out extra chalk (or index cards and pens) and you’ll laugh over what your guests have scrawled.

  • Moss and Stones. No one wants to see the bare dirt in their plants. Cover it up with moss or little stones. This is the decorating equivalent of wearing lipstick—it’s a tiny touch that adds such a polished finish.

  • Tables Over Islands. This is a super European look and I love it. Many European kitchens have big tables with six to eight chairs in the center, rather than large islands or countertops. You can still use the area for prep and it’s so inviting.

  • Cord Covers. Last week, I mentioned I’m into scrunchies. Well, a cord cover is basically a scrunchie for your lamps or appliances. They’re easy to find and even easier to make, and they look especially great when you use fine fabric.

Each of these WASPPs are five-stinger ideas (trademark pending) and totally simple, so why wouldn’t you incorporate them?


Sherwin Williams : Black Bean

Finish: Any

Room Light Level: Any