• Lava Lamps

    The ultimate accessory for the groovy home of the '70s is back again. A lava lamp may be just the thing you need to add a whimsical blast from the past to your surroundings. And although they're in many senses a throwback, lava lamps have come a long way.

    Back in the '70s everyone who had a lava lamp seemed to have the same one. It had a basic torpedo design held up by a flat base, the "lava" inside was red, and the surrounding liquid was amber. You can still get that kind of lamp if you like. But you now have more choices in terms of color and style.

    Just for starters, you could get the same basic style of lava lamp but with a different color of lava. Try blue or green for a cooler look, yellow for something that seems more sunny and cheerful. Those possibilities right there make it easier to fit a lava lamp into your chosen decorating scheme.

    But we're just getting started. If you can change the color of the lava, why not change the color of the surrounding liquid as well? Of course you can! Put the yellow or red lava in a purple background. Or get green lava with a blue background. For an understated, cool effect, get blue lava with a lighter blue background. Anything is possible.

    If you want to branch out from that, consider a lava lamp that doesn't feature the usual globules of material at all. You can get a "glitter" lava lamp in all sorts of colors. Instead of large balls of material breaking off from each other, you get hundreds of tiny dots, sparkling and shimmering. Perhaps turquoise dots can glitter against a blue background. Or the lamp can be so full of green glitter that you can't even see the background. The whole effect is like a neon snow globe.

    So far, we've just been talking about a standard shape and size, though. The basic lava lamp sits comfortably on an end table with plenty of room for magazines. What if you want something bigger? No problem! You can get an oversized lava lamp-29 inches high and 10 1/2 inches wide at the base-that will really wow your friends and make a bold, funky decorating statement that's sure to please.

    Or how about a lava lamp incorporated into a basic torchiere floor lamp? You can get one of those as well. It's a standard floor lamp with a halogen bulb. But about two thirds of the way up the stem, it blossoms out into a lava lamp. This also solves another problem. Whatever else lava lamps are good for, they don't really light up a room and allow you to read or play cards. Including a standard light with the mood lighting of the lava lamp can solve this problem.

    Another way to incorporate a standard light is with a lava desk lamp. This lava lamp can have one or two fully adjustable gooseneck arms with regular white light lamps at the end and the lava lamp in the middle. The shades of the lights can be coordinated with the color of the lava in the lamp.

    If you want to branch out even further in terms of color and style, you might consider building your own lava lamp. It might not be cheap, but it can be a lot of fun. There are web sites available to give you the formulas that get you started experimenting to your heart's content.