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Lighting design is an integral part of a restaurant experience—you’ve probably noticed when it’s too dim to read the menu or snap that crucial Instagram shot. But lighting doesn’t just have to be functional, it can also be playful and contribute to a restaurant’s ambiance. While many bars and restaurants are currently decked out in holiday lights, these spots keep things bright year-round.
1201 U St. NW
While you get lit at this tiki bar, look up to see lamps made out of dried out blowfish. They glow yellow, red, and green. Weird uncles trying to recreate tiki bars in their basements should take note, you can buy lamps like these on Etsy.
To complement the laid-back industrial feel of Taylor Gourmet’s stores, rows of drywall buckets provide illumination, as well as an interesting ceiling texture, at several of their locations.
The Fainting Goat
1330 U St. NW
The eclectic, rustic-tinged decor at The Fainting Goat is full of surprises, like lampshades made from vintage phonographs. The Edit Lab design team found the phonograph horns on an antiquing excursion in Leesburg.
3000 12th St. NE
Forty-eight ostrich feathers bedeck each exquisite chandelier in the French-bistro inspired wine bar. Asked how they’re kept clean, Edit Lab studio partner Lauren Winter, who designed the space, jokes that like a feather duster, “They clean themselves!”
1940 9th St. NW
Fittingly, the light fixtures at this favorite concert venue take a musical form. The first floor bar is lined with microphone lights, and the second floor features cymbal and drum lamps hanging from the ceiling.
50 Blagden Alley NW
Thirty-four vintage “Gone With the Wind” oil lamps hang along an industrial armature above the bar in Calico. The lamps got their nickname after they surged in popularity following the 1939 film.