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How to straighten a crooked lamp

Q. I have a lamp, I think from the 1920s, that is askew. The heavy glass top rests on a metal rim, and the metal is off-kilter. Do you know anyone in Northern Virginia who might be able to fix it? I went to a local lighting store, but they did not inspire confidence.


A. Your lamp is cut glass from the American brilliant period and probably dates from around 1915 to 1918, according to Tommy deGraffenried of the Stevenson Co., which buys and sells pieces of this type. The American brilliant period was a time when American glass shops broke away from traditional European designs and came up with spectacular designs of their own. It began with the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and ended with World War I. Lead oxide, needed to make the glass suitable for cutting, was needed for weaponry during the war. By the time the war was over, the remaining glassmakers had shifted to other glass formulas.

DeGraffenried suggests removing the top dome by lifting it out of the metal ring that it fits in. He thinks that the metal support has come loose and needs to be soldered back on to the hardware below. The metal parts were probably silverplated, so if that has worn off, you might want to have that redone at the same time. Two shops that can do this for you are Lawrence Miller & Co. in Alexandria (703-548-0659) and Chevy Chase Plating & Polishing in Rockville (301-230-7686). Figure on about $45 for the soldering and $75 for the plating, said Richard Sisson, owner of Chevy Chase Plating.

Tim Shaheen of Lawrence Miller & Co. cited similar prices, around $35 for the soldering and $35 to several hundreds of dollars for silverplating, depending on how many parts need to be coated and how difficult the lamp is to take apart.

(Reader photo)

A skylight in the flat roof of my two-story townhouse heats the house nicely in the winter, but it also does the same in summer, causing my heat pump to work overtime. It is over the stairs to the second floor and in a well that is not reachable, except by a very tall ladder arranged on the stairs. What are my options to keep the sun out on a summer’s day? A shade? A film on the skylight? I worry that wouldn’t allow the sun in the winter.

Chevy Chase

A honeycomb shade, also known as a cellular shade, should work well. In a skylight, this type of shade moves on tracks at the sides, so you can open the shade in winter and pull it closed in summer.

Skylight blinds start at about $125 on Web sites such as Blinds Galore. But given the tricky stairwell access, you might want to shop at a local company that also offers installation. Prices start at about $500 at Decorating USA (703-856 3190), a company in Herndon that sells and installs window treatments in Washington, Virginia and Maryland.

Blindsgalore, for example, has an arrangement with Nationwide Blind Installation to route customers to nearby installers. The installer who works in the Chevy Chase area, Tim Burke (703-901-3601;, says he charges $75 to measure for a skylight blind and about $150 to install one.

Many skylights are hard to reach, so manufacturers give you three options for operating these blinds: an electric motor that runs on household current, a battery-powered motor or a simple telescoping wand. A wired-in system is likely to cost most because you’d probably need to bring in an electrician to install an outlet next to the skylight, said Kass Kassraie, owner of Decorating USA. A battery system is also relatively pricey — $350 for the motor, a battery rated to open or close the blinds 2,500 times, and a remote control. Kassraie usually recommends the manual option, which he says provides long-term, trouble-free use at a reasonable cost.

Send questions to . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in October, such as adding outdoor lighting.



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