Antique Art Glass

Vintage Lighting Fixtures For Your Old Style Home

In our modern, light-at-the-touch-of-a-button-world, it is easy to forget that up until the 19th century producing light was an expensive, unwieldy and dirty process. We forget that our grandparents and other predecessors most likely stumbled about in the dark with nothing but a candle and its tiny little flame providing the only source of light for them.

Old style homes are bursting full of character and old charm and the best way to showcase such a place is with vintage light fixtures. These fixtures indirectly highlight the nooks, crannies and architectural details of your heritage style house the same way that candlelight would have done so, when the house was probably first built.

Remember it is only eighty years ago that most homes started to adopt electricity. Before that lamps burned wax or gas.

The indoor lighting fixtures that might be most appropriate for a historical style of home are probably going to be a pendant style lighting fixture with shades of glass, metal or porcelain as this is what kept the candle flames in check.

Consider getting a large fancy painted globe for the larger rooms like the living room and fit them with incandescent bulbs to mimic the warm yellow soft light of gas or candlelight. In fact, a custom painted globe was a common gift for the newlyweds at the turn of the century.

If your house’s heyday was during the time of gas lighting then you might want to choose fixtures that mimic the look of a gas lamp. These would be fixtures that extend a distance away from the wall if they are sconces and quite far down from the ceiling in the case of a chandelier.

One way to date a lighting fixture in fact is to look at which way the shades are positioned and if they are cups, they suit older houses, and if they point downwards, then they suit a newer home.

The invention of electricity brought a boon to home design between 1890 and 1920. This was called the Arts and Crafts movement and all kinds of glass and metal shades were invented to house the new light bulb. So if your house was built during that time then Tiffany style lamps or glass lampshades might look best.

After World War I Art Deco designs took over and the glass light bulb casing became etched and sculpted into zig zag, crescent and sunburst shapes. If your house was built in the 1920s to 1940s Art Deco light fixtures might look more suitable and complement the decor of the surroundings.

If you do find an antique light fixture dated before 1920 there is one very important thing to remember. You cannot use light bulbs that are stronger than 15 watts in it or you could cause a fire. If the light fixture is an antique from 1920s onward then stay safe and only use a 40-watt bulb. Lamps that could safely take a 100-watt bulb did not appear until the early sixties and even then you should check the antique fixture carefully to see if instructions about what wattage the lamp should be fitted with are written on it somewhere. Of course one way to avoid all of this fuss would be to simply buy a retro recreation of the style that you want so that you can use whatever type of light bulb that you like.

In our modern, light-at-the-touch-of-a-button-world, it is easy to forget that up until the 19th century producing light was an expensive, unwieldy and dirty process. We forget that our grandparents and other predecessors most likely stumbled about in the dark with nothing but a candle and its tiny little flame providing the only source of light for them.

As time went on, many different types of lighting fixtures came and went, things such as flame torches, tallow vessels, wax candles, oil lamps, paraffin lamps, then gas and finally electricity.

Once electricity became readily available, it was fast seen as an exciting and revolutionary way of enriching home furnishings by creating lighting fixtures that would look decorative but also provide a good quality of light for the home.

As a result, the design of the lamp and other lighting fixtures has undergone many different stages. We know look back on some of the old style antique lamps with much love and a touch of nostalgia.

If you live in an historical style home, it is these vintage light fixtures and antique lamps that will give your home the touch of opulence and grandeur that is so reminiscent of times long gone by.

Lauren Tyler is a writer for LampLightWorld.com.

By Lauren Tyler
Published: 6/28/2007

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