The George Nelson Bubble Lamp. I finally bought it.

After ohhhh about a decade or so I finally bought a permanent light fixture for my dining room. I tried to talk myself out of this particular light for the past 10 years.  I ended up buying it anyway.  The George Nelson Bubble Light. Behold.

This has been a rock solid few weeks of getting stuff done that I’ve wanted to do for a decade.  Got rid of the ugly curtains, made the world’s most perfect window treatment, interior shutters, bought and hung my new dining room light AND cleaned my cats’ water bowl.

So why did I spend a decade trying to talk myself out of this masterpiece of a light? It’s perfect in my dining room.  Idris Elba positioned over the dining room table wouldn’t be more perfect than this George Nelson Bubble lamp. Yet, for an entire decade I avoided it.

The George Nelson Bubble Light

We’ve seen this bubble lamp over and over and over and over and over again.  Maybe not quite as much as the Eames Lounge chair or, for a time, sweatpants with the word “Juicy” on the bum, but we’ve seen it a lot.  That was part of my opposition to this light.  It was everywhere.

Yet. I kept thinking about it. And every time I did I’d do an eyeroll and tell myself to get an original thought in my head.  Maybe a group of stuffed monkeys hugging, with lightbulbs in their mouths could work.  You could pull one of their tails to turn it on and off.

I kept thinking.

Last year I went through a collection of possibilities in this post on dining room lighting options, all of which I loved but only one was right for my dining room and I knew it.  Yet I still didn’t buy it.


In that post there were a couple of light fixtures I liked better than this bubble lamp but I also knew they wouldn’t look as good in my room as this one does.  The multi-faceted gold one still haunts my dreams.

So why does this George Nelson Bubble Lamp work?  It’s the right balance.  By that I mean the size is good compared to the table, the chairs and the room.  The shape is also good.  Everything in the room is square except the chairs. The round light mimics the roundness of the Panton chairs and their colour too.

The lines running up and down the bubble lamp mimic the lines in the shutters and lines of the bookcases. Plus it gives the light texture.  When you decorate with white you have to pay a LOT of attention to bringing in texture.  That’s why the white brick wall works so well.  It adds a texture to the wall that wouldn’t be there if it were just plain drywall.

The light is also the perfect contrast to the ornately framed oil panting.  You know … Margaret.  Margaret commands attention so the light had to be able to play nice with her.  Maggie can be a bit bossy.

The other thing I love about this light is the fact that there are no exposed bulbs.  Exposed bulbs glare. They can never produce a soft light.  So a chandelier, like the one I have in my foyer, will add sparkle and a lot of light, but it will never create a delicate glow.  The bubble lamp, even when the dimmer is turned right up, is never harsh. It just bathes the room in light.

Very much the same way Idris Elba would.  Although I suspect turning Idris on every time I walked into the room would be more involved. And of course his exposed bulbs wouldn’t be problematic.

As it turns out, I probably should have just bought this light a decade ago.  The lesson in this for me, and for you, is if you love something just let yourself love it.  Just because a lot of other people love it too doesn’t diminish how nice it is.  Don’t shy away from something just because it’s popular.  Or just because it isn’t popular.  It’s your house, your life and you should fill it with things that make you happy.

Just maybe not things that could lead to kidnapping charges.


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  1. Josh Klausner says:

    We just bought a medium and are in the process of hanging. Love your choices for that. How high are your ceilings and how high is the lamp off the table. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Josh! My ceilings are fairly low – 8′. And the very bottom of the light is 34.5″ above my table. How high it is over the table depends on your room and table size etc. This works for me. :) ~ karen!

  2. Leah says:

    This is lovely! I’m tempted… However, I have very little natural light in our dining room, + I plan to paint the walls a dark blue. Do you think this would work? Does it give enough light? soft but bright?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Leah! It does give a ton of light! (well as much light as you can expect from a light with a single bulb. I’m sure a chandelier with 8 bulbs in it would give more, but I’ve never thought I needed more light in the dining room. And it really does give a nice glow without the harshness of a bare bulb. ~ karen!

  3. Susan says:

    What size bubble lamp did you choose for this room? And what are the dimensions of your room? I am deciding between Large and Extra Large for a bedroom.

  4. Chaz says:

    Looks great, about to pull the trigger myself. What size did you get? Looks like maybe the medium? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      It is the medium Chaz! I possibly could have gotten away with the large but it would have been a major statement. :) ~ karen!

  5. Chaz says:

    Looks eat, about to pull the trigger myself. What size did you get? Looks like maybe the medium? Thanks!

  6. Tom says:

    Karen, what size bubble lamp did you get? Your dining room is beautiful by the way.

  7. Kate says:

    A can of compressed air and a soft toothbrush. And a ladder of course. That’s how you can clean them should you need to. I have a single GN bubble lamp hanging in my upstairs hall, and a triple fixture hanging in my living room, and even with 4 cats and a less-than-tight 100+ year old house, those babies seem to repel dust and pet hair.

  8. Bobbie says:

    It’s perfect!!!

  9. cvarol says:

    This lamp was featured in this months Better Home and Garden magazine too!

  10. beks says:

    I won’t lie, one of the reasons I bought my house was because the tall ceilings and trim were perfect to showcase the bubble lamp that had been hoarded under my bed for years.

    ..and the bay window at a perfect height for a cat bed.

  11. Marna says:

    Looks great in your room!

  12. Kelli says:

    Panton chairs? Nelson bubble lamp? White laquer sideboard? Chunky acrylic coffee table? Silver side table?

    Jealous? Who, me?

    Oh nooo. Nah. Uh uh. Nope, nope nope. Not me. No sirree Bob. Not one little whit.

    OK…well… 🙄

    Maybe ONE whit. One really BIG whit. But that’s all. Really. I’m fine. You just go on with your bad self, all fancified and everythang, you darn talented DIYer, you. You’ll have to excuse me while I try to go scrub this green film off my skin… 💚💚💚

    *have wanted one of those bubble lamps for like, decades, it seems*

  13. Janet says:

    The light, it’s most definately you. As far as waiting a decade, well, better late than never. Thank you for the inspiration. It’s so good to hear someone say, if you love it, love it. Surround yourself with what makes you happy….I think I will.

  14. Mary says:

    Well done, George and Margaret are a great couple.

  15. Loreen says:

    I spy with my little eye, something that is green. A Lee Valley Gardeners Journal, have looked at that for 10 years and wondered if it would work for me. Your light purchase is inspiring me.

  16. Ritz says:

    Bulbs do be that way sometimes.

  17. SusanR says:


  18. Brenna says:

    I made do with that ubiquitous artichoke lamp knockoff from IKEA for a few years until the dust drove me nuts (they’re impossible to keep clean) and then finally settled on the propeller Nelson lamp for something a little different. I’ve been super happy with my purchase. Great soft light. Adds a touch of class to any room. If anyone is on the fence, find the right size for your room and do it! Very simple to install also.

    • Brenna says:

      Oops! Forget the photo…

      • Karen says:

        Nice! And I had that Ikea lamp too. In fact, I still do, lol. I just keep moving it around the house. It went from the foyer to the dining room and now it’s in my stairwell. It’s cheap and a knockoff, but still pretty great. ~ karen!

  19. Eileen says:

    Beautiful choice.

  20. Roxanne Scott says:

    Love it, I’m so glad it is the one you chose…. The others are just not right!

  21. Mia says:

    Yes it is rather sculptural in daylight, but what about an evening picture? Please?

  22. Alena says:

    Probably not what I would have picked but it looks good there. I am glad you went for it. After all, life is too short to live with what we don’t like.
    Although I have always like Lindsey Edelman’s creation, I can’t live with bulbs in clear glass. Just too jarring for my eyes.
    As soon as I win the lottery (and buy new digs with 10 or 11 ft ceilings, I will spring for either the Grande Vertigo or the Serge Mouille’s light that looks like an insect on steroids. Or maybe both – why not?

    I am feeling somewhat accomplished too, although on a much smaller scale. I decided to keep a painting (read: a HomeSense reproduction) that is HUGE and bold and the potential that I will tire of it quickly. It measures precisely 3′ x 4′ feet and I found out the only place where I can actually hang is my foyer (1.5 storey in a raised bungalow) because all the rooms have low ceilings and it just does not look right there. And I hung it on my own despite the fact that I have only a two-step stepstool and it had to be hung at almost 3 meters off the floor.
    I also created my first kokedama yesterday – it was a very messy job and I ended up with moss behind my ears (I made the discovery that it would have gone much easier if I had multiple sets of arms like an Indian deity).

  23. Jackie says:

    I love your light. It goes perfect in your room. Sometimes you just have to give in & get what you know is right for you & what you love.

  24. j says:

    LOVE that light! LOVE!!

  25. Trish says:

    I too covet the bubble light, and well, Idris Alba.

    Curious to know where you got the light from?

  26. jaine kunst says:

    I went back to your previous post on the different fixtures you were considering and you did choose the perfect one! Everything else just seemed a bit too busy and this one just puts the finishing touch on the room. Karen, seriously you need to work on the “waiting for 10 years” thing. Listen to your gut.

  27. TONI says:


  28. Laura says:

    Just think how many people love Idris Elba.

  29. Genevieve Letkeman says:

    Right on. I like the message. The internet is a great place for inspiration, but its good to still have our own sense of style. And on the other hand if we happen to like something that a dozen other people have in their living rooms too, well who cares?!

  30. susan says:

    Love the light- and your explanation of the shielding of the glare (gotta be scientific and all that) but still can’t love the chairs.

  31. Jennifer Ramirez says:

    Love, love, love it!!

  32. Brenda says:

    I absolutely love that it has taken you 10 years to pull this room together. This is real life and in real life, things that you love take time, but then they mean so much more. You also make me feel like not such a weirdo for not getting things done right away!

    Quick story…friends of our recently built a townhome and moved in. It’s perfectly decorated with a lot of perfectly coordinating stuff that was purchased within a few months’ time. As I was sitting there, I looked around and realized that there was nothing in that space that spoke about who they are, it was all just decorations anyone could go out and buy. I like your way better…you find things that you love and that say something about you. If I didn’t know the story of Margaret, and I was in your house, I’d certainly ask about her. With our friends’ place, I know it all just came from the local craft/decor store, no need to ask.

    Your space feels genuine. In the end you have a room that will serve as an inspiration to me!

    • Alena says:

      That’s what one often sees on all the ‘let’s flip a house’ shows – everything is so coordinated and matchy-matchy, but the result is an absolutely soulless house, and it looks like the house was staged for sale (or maybe it was and the owners purchased it with all the staging furniture and decor).

  33. Marilyn says:

    I have always said that you should buy the best you can afford but most of all you must love it. ! It can take me forever to find the perfect item for my house but when I finally find it I can live with it for a really long time because I love it. If it speaks to you then it’s right. But it’s never taken me 10 years. Lol. Glad you finally came to your senses.

  34. Maura says:

    Good for you, it definitely is perfect for that room.

  35. Ev Wilcox says:

    Glad you like it. If it can put out a lot of light when needed, it would work for me. Wouldn’t go with anything in this house though. Now, Idris Elba wouldn’t go with anything in this house either, but…I think I could make his bulbs shine like crazy. He can stand on my table anytime!
    Actually, I just got up this morning, and now I’m wide awake. Thanks Karen!

  36. Mary W says:

    In my slow, aged, and NOT modern loving brain – your chairs finally make sense to me. The light did it and I dearly love your library/dining room. Margaret is totally wonderful living there and the white chairs belong. The light was the touchstone, the unlocking key, the cornerstone, the perfect fairy tale ending. Congratulations on the new member of your family, Karen’s totally perfect dinning room. Stuart Little says it best, When it’s right, you just know it.”

  37. Lynn says:

    I have this lamp as well, and I love it. I look forward to hearing how to clean the fabric shade. :)

    • Karen says:

      My mother was over last night and she said “You’d better dust that every day or it’ll get filthy”. I could fool myself into thinking I”ll do that but … ~ karen!

    • Diane Ward says:

      I have it as well. Stressed about dining room lighting for years then bought the Bubble light on a whim on sale. Best decision…love it, love it and have never doubted my Bubble light. The vacuum dust brush works well for cleaning!

  38. Susan says:

    True love never dies. I’m glad you finally bought it Karen. You would not have been truly happy with anything else.

  39. Sandra Lea says:

    My ex brother-in-law had a monkey chandelier in his dining room. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen yet oddly fascinating. Love your new light.

  40. Heather says:

    I like your style.

  41. Kylee Baumle says:

    You mean like ‘Stella d’Oro’ daylilies?

    Just kidding.

    LOVE the light!

  42. dana says:

    Love it! I bet it looks really neat at night. Hubs works at IKEA so alot of our stuff comes from there. We put the knappa chandelier in our hallway even though so many people say it’s modern which is not our style. I don’t care bc it’s a lotus flower and I love it.

  43. maggieb says:

    I think it is a sublime choice, for all the reasons that you wrote about. It just brings the whole room together. And so what, 10 years, you have it now and may it bring joy to you every time you see it.
    And as a second choice to Idris, maybe a better option (inconceivable I realise) for load bearing beams or plasterboard. However, please take comfort that if they make the kidnapping charges stick, we’ll set up a visitors rota ….

    • Karen says:

      Thank you. I appreciate that. Visitors would give me something to look forward to in between making shivs and moonshine made out of rotten apples under my bunk. ~ karen!

  44. TucsonPatty says:

    Another lesson – if you had bought it 10 years ago, you would have had 10 years of enjoyment out of it already, and maybe you would be on to the next thing. I am working on my procrastination, and this maybe will help me figure out how to make a dcision sooner rather than later. Plus, Idris bulbs.

  45. Paula says:

    Fabulous! Congratulations, I think it looks perfect in your dining room.

  46. Judy DeLacy says:

    Hi Karen, When you posted some lighting options last year, I picked No. 5. :-) I thought it went best with your furnishings and overall look of the room. I also like the fact the bulbs are not exposed. I’m glad you went with the globe light, it truly looks great.

  47. Jules McShera says:

    Idris Elba’s bulbs! 😂

  48. Susan says:

    It is! I love it brings the shutters into your eye and is modern enough for the chairs. You are right 10 years was long enough to wait for the perfect light. I think you finally got this room JUST right.

  49. Angela Sadler says:

    You are a life saver, no for real…. I moved to a small town and I’m dying here. If it wasn’t for your blog I would literally just die. It’s the only thing that’s keeping me going. I get it, I get all of it, the light fixture, the salt and pepper, I already ordered the jacket.
    So thank you from the bottom of my heart❤️

    • Tina says:

      I moved to MA from OR a year ago. I had good reasons for doing it…and I had good reasons for staying. I made the move but I wish I hadn’t. And daily I see myself becoming more of a hermit. Karen and a few others keep me thinking and getting out, the little I do. It’s a huge expense to sell my house and move back across country but it’s something I dream of.

      • Melissa says:

        And I want nothing more in life than to BE a hermit and not have to interact with other humans face to face!

    • Karen says:

      Angela! You’re very welcome. I bet in no time you’ll get used to that town, love it and forget all about me. ~ karen!

  50. JenniferN says:

    It’s perfect. I know that word is over-used, but it really is. Glad you finally listened to yourself.

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