Antique and Vintage Lighting

Crystal Chandelier
Nothing sets the mood like lighting. From dramatic accent lighting, to soft romantic mood setting to the all important task lighting. Apart from the function of lighting, lighting fixtures can be an all important decorating accessory item for a room. A French brass chandelier dripping with crystals can set the stage for a formal diningroom, or get a romantic shabby chic look in a bedroom or bath. An old 1860 library fixture with a glass shade and globe can be electified and add a traditional look to a den , office or study. Wrought iron or weathered tin can get an Early American primitive look going. I have talked about inspiration coming from out of the blue and get a whole decorating theme going, well a impressive lighting fixture can be a starting off point also for a room. It can set the theme for the selection of all the other furnishings.
Antique or vintage lighting doesn’t require a lot of work to adapt, electify, rewire or dress up. So if you see a great lighting fixture or a special lamp don’t be afraid to purchase it. Many people get rid of lamps simply because they may need a new plug or switch or socket, not realizing how simple and inexpensive it is to fix them. A lamp can be rewired for under $20.00. New sockets are easy to put on. So check out the tag sales, thrift shops, and consignment shops for some real beauties at bargain prices that just need a little work. With all old lighting pieces, if you are not skilled at wiring please take it to a professional to inspect and make needed repairs before you use it. The workings of a lamp are very simple and easy to fix. Be safe make sure the wiring is in good shape.
Start with a basic lamp, that is the right size and shape for the place you want to put it, next accessorize. Does it need a shade? A simple shade or a shade that has braid trim, beads, an unusual fabric or color? If you have purchased a great lamp at a flea market price maybe you can spurlge on a fabulous custom shade. Remember scale when it comes to shades, it should just cover the entire socket area, not too high and the socket shows, not too long that it is uncomfortable trying to reach up under it to turn the light on. A rule of thumb is appoximately, the shade should be 1/3 of the total height of the lamp. The height and size of the lamp should also be in scale with the furniture it is sitting on. Important lamps that are next to seating and used for reading should be high enough to illuminate what ever you are reading as you are sitting, a too low lamp won’t work, a too high lamp will shine in your eyes and make you uncomfortable. Also take into consideration your height. Using lamps you already own of various heights, try them on the table next to your chair to find what heights works best for you, measure it and use that for a guide in purchasing a new lamp. I hate the matchy matchy look in decorating, I call it the Holiday Inn style of decorating. The only exception to my design philosophy of not working in pairs is with lamps on either side of a couch or in the immediate seating area, if you are only going to be using 2 lamps, they should really be an exact match for height, shape and base material, if you don’t want 2 lamps the exactly the same, they have to be very similar in traits. In the rest of the room they should be in scale with the room and furniture and have some single unifying trait that coordinates them all together. There can be 1 single lamp that has a stunningly different look than all the others if it is to be a focal point in the room. Hanging fixtures should be hung at heights, where they will be noticed, provide lighting such as over a dining table, but not placed where they are too low and people will hit their heads getting up from their chairs or the lights shine in their eyes. One rule of thrumb is measure the space from the top of the table to the ceiling, halfway in between is where the light should go, but with about a foot space in that middle half-way point to adjust up or down for your indivual preference. Nothing looks worse or so lost as a chandelier hung way up too close to the ceiling, you can always add a decorative chain to extend it down.
Soft lighting from lamps and chandeliers are the most flattering to you and the room. Chandeliers can be put on dimmer switches to adjust the amount of light needed or wanted. Every woman’s nightmare is the lighting in store’s dressingrooms, the over head flourescent lights are too bright and tend to distort colors, they make every flaw show and turn your skin tones into something from a horror flick. Add the distress of trying on a bathing suits and you can lose your self esteem for a month. This overhead harsh lighting is not what you want in your home. You need soft, subtle lighting to light a room. Lamps can give spot lighting where you need it for tasks, spotlights can highlight special paintings or other works of art, recessed lights can shot down onto work surfaces for doing tasks. Hanging lights on dimmers can softly light a whole room. Out are the glaring overhead ceiling lights as the sole source of light for a room. A single room can use several lamps to spot light areas as needed instead of lighting the whole room. Lamps can vary in size around the room as long as they are proportinate to the pieces of furniture they are on or next to. Don’t over look using floor lamps, great where space is limited and also great for providing light from behind your chair to shine down on what you are reading. Wall scones are also another space saver, some that are used in bedrooms or in bathrooms can be on arms that move, to pull out or fold back. A room can have a combination of mood lighting, task lighting or accent lighting. For example I have a very large bathroom, it is over 22 feet long and has a cathedral ceiling, so it has a very long vanity and mirror to be in scale with the room, over the vanity is a strip of the typical round vanity bulbs, I think there are 8 of them. When the vanity lights are on, it is very bright with that many bulbs, good for applying makeup or shaving but really too bright for anything else. So I found 2 old frosty glass vase shaped lamps, to place on the vanity, decorated with handpainted gold flowers and leaves, very French looking. They are standard height table lamps and I put pretty chintz flowered fabric shades on them for a soothing soft lighting effect. So now just going into the bathroom at night, turning on one of the lamps creates a special soft lighting that is more room like than a cold overly bright sterile looking enviroment. Near the bath I have an antique brass and crystal wall sconce to add more soft light over the tub but not the glaring bright light that reminds me of the store dressing rooms light. Soft lighting in the bathroom can create a private personal oasis to help you to relax in a wonderful bubble bath or a pulsating long hot shower and enjoy some pampering time.
Lighting fixtures can be dressed with shades of cloth or glass, decorated with strings of pearls, hung with chains, or be dripping with hundreds of shimmering crystals, painted, made of metal or wood, the variety is endless as is what you can do to them. Ebay is a great source for buying crystals, drop pendents or strings of them in all different colors, sizes and shapes to suit your decorating taste. Silk ivy vines can be twirled around the chain that suspends them. Christmas brings a whole new area of decorating ideas for your lighting fixtures. A garden room with live ficus trees covered with white mini lights can turn the room into a fairy wonderland. Many people try putting the little white lights on their houseplant trees for the holidays and love it so much they leave them on all year long.
The term “they don’t make them like they used to” certainly applies to lamps and lighting fixtures. many old ones are works of art, wonderful examples artistic handcraftmanship, whether fine china, blown glass, precious metals, hand forged iron, ect.all have a special unique appeal of their own and add beauty as well as function to your home. Anyone can have a store bought, made in China lamp, functional but not unique. You take so much time in choosing the perfect accessories that made your home reflect your unique style don’t lose that creative edge with your lighting. Your home is your “stage” you have designed the set, you are the “star” make sure the stagelights flatter your beauty. Special tip, pink colored lightbulbs in the bedroom will give your skin a wonderful rosy glow!

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One Response to “Antique and Vintage Lighting”

  1. I’ve been searching in google for some items and accidentally found this web site. You sure can write and teach and inspire. Keep writing – I’ll keep reading.

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