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Good lighting can make or break a room. Designer lighting makes diamonds sparkle brightly, pictures appear more flattering, sculptures more detailed, and antiques radiantly stunning.

Ideas for Using Antique Lighting

Antique lighting includes chandeliers, sconces, lanterns, and pendants—all are perfect options for shining a little light on your personal design style. Adding a vintage light fixture to a well-visited room is an easy way to add character and style to your home without taking up floor space or adding more furniture. Here are our tips for adding some style and light to your home.

Be Truly Unique

An antique lighting fixture ensures that you’ll have a one-of-a-kind piece to highlight both the period and your personal style. If you’re looking for a new-to-you fixture that serves as a focal point in your home, seek out antique lighting. Adding an Art Deco pendant above your kitchen island imparts a cool sense of style without adding bulk to a kitchen—perfect for smaller or galley kitchens. Or place a twin set of antique sconces on either side of a bay window for an instant update to the typical reading nook. If you love the unique shape or color of a table lamp, place it on a bedside or side table and add a touch of character or whimsy, depending on the style.

Vintage designer lighting is the absolute best direction if you’re looking for something specific and need only one or two pieces to complete a room. Curating your home takes time—don’t let an off-the-shelf lighting fixture ruin the overall aesthetic.

Single antique lighting fixtures are easier to find than complete sets. Don’t be afraid to mix and match throughout a room or throughout your home for an eclectic, developed-over-time feel. Using all one metal or shape throughout your home will ensure that the pieces don’t look forced or erratic.

That being said, don’t be afraid to blend two styles together—both when it comes to your lighting fixtures and your room. Adding a delicate chandelier above a sturdy farmhouse table balances both pieces without seeming over the top. In a similar vein, mixing heavy antique lighting fixtures and hairpin-legged side tables can be an effortlessly cool juxtaposition. If you want to mix and match lighting styles, look for similar accents in each piece that play off each other. Choosing one in an all metal finish or one with fun extras like cut glass or etched designs can ensure that each piece is both highlighted (literally and figuratively) in the space. For example, two or three Art Deco wall sconces with different backplates brings the focus to each piece without being visually fatiguing.

Antique Lighting History

Knowing the style you like isn’t often enough to find the best pieces for your home. It’s important that you can accurately explain what you’re looking for to a designer or store. Below is a quick breakdown of the types of antique lighting most commonly seen today.

Renaissance Revival

These antique lighting pieces are usually gas, and feature both nature motifs, like animals or twirling vines, as well as human faces, robust pillars, and trophies. The elaborate designs were better suited for larger fixtures, and since they required expensive materials, you’ll often find they come from commercial buildings, or the homes of the very wealthy. The line work is often determined and architectural—straight lines, angular scrolling, or heavy ornamenting.

Rococo Revival

Referred to as the “French Antique” period, the Rococo Revival focused on the more romantic and heavily French style of lighting. Also usually gas, these pieces are more intricate, with flowing asymmetrical details like scrolling, curved lines, and ornate and lavish carvings with romantic details like cornucopias, birds, fruit, flowers, and twining vines. These pieces are often made of exquisite materials like gold metal, gilded accents, and etched glass.

Gothic Revival

Dark and moody, these antique lighting fixtures, usually sconces, are marked by the use of trefoils, quatrefoils, cluster columns, crockets and pinnacles, and pointed arches.

Aesthetic Movement

Characterized by the simple, stylized, and often flattened (patterns created in two dimensions instead of built onto the piece) forms, the aesthetic movement relied heavily on exotic styles stemming from the Greeks, Japanese, Persians, and Egyptians. These are sturdy pieces with typically nature-centric motifs.

Turn of the Century

These lighting fixtures incorporated all previous styles and pinpointed the change from gas lighting to electric lamps, pendants, and wall sconces.

Neoclassical Period

Starting in 1900 and ending around the middle of the century, these lights boasted classic symmetry, traditional accents, and pulled heavily from the Greek Revival period.

Art Deco Spanning the ten years of the roaring twenties, the Art Deco period features modern decorative art styles, whose main characteristics were derived from various avant-garde painting styles of the early twentieth century and incorporated into the antique lights.

DECASO and You: Finding the Perfect Antique Lighting

Finding the perfect vintage piece to accent your home can be one part worry and one part stress. Seeking out an antique lighting fixture is no different—searching them out can cost time and money, before you ever secure a piece. At DECASO, we want your shopping experience to be as painless as possible; that’s why we showcase our entire collection online, where you can access it at any time, so curating pieces for your home is easy and fun.