Monday, April 30, 2012

Choosing Lighting for a Historic Home

I meant to tell you the details of how we finished renovating the piano room but was distracted by home appraisals and roofs and oh yes, spring!   Now that things have calmed down somewhat let's take a look at how we chose the lighting for our newly renovated room.  Initially when we moved in, the central light fixture in the piano room was this vintage 1950's light.


We actually really liked this light but felt it was too small for the size of the room.  We've since moved it to the entry hall where it better suits the smaller space.

The light that was in the entry was then moved to the piano room as seen below. It didn't last there long.


Neither of us were particularly keen on this light.  It's a newer fixture, likely from a local hardware store, and to our eyes didn't suit the vintage look of the house. We wanted something that would complement the antique crown moldings when your eyes travelled upwards.

These crown moldings are original
We also wanted something that didn't hang so low as we often felt like we were going to bump our heads on that big fixture.

We kept our eyes open for something to show up here on island but nothing was presenting itself.  So last summer during our trip to Toronto, Ontario we started canvassing antique shops looking for the elusive perfect light.  What we discovered is that quality antique lighting is difficult to find.  Many fixtures have suffered damage over the years, glass shades are not original, and electrical wiring can be suspect.  So it was with relief when we walked in the doors of Turn of the Century Lighting.  This store is simply wonderful.  Really.  I'm not getting paid to say this.  I loved this store.  They refurbish antique lights and also sell original unique lights.  We spent hours looking at lights and chatting to staff who were exceptionally helpful and knowledgable.  They talked to us about how low a light should hang, which types are best for dining areas, hallways and living spaces.  We discussed age and authenticity.  By the time we walked out the door I had found the fixture I wanted.  The issue was that it was costly.  There is a high price for quality lighting.


We himmed and hawwed and ultimately decided to purchase it.  I loved it.  It was a lot of money but I had to have it.


I haven't regretted it one second.  This 1870's Neo-Grecian converted gas fixture is in perfect condition. The stencil etched glass shades and finish are original.  Although we looked hard, we had not found anything remotely comparable.  And look how it complements our cabinet.


In addition to its good looks it is the perfect size for the room.  It doesn't hang too low so it isn't in the way but it does draw your eye upward.  I love the fact that it is an authentic antique detail of the same vintage as the house but it fits in with some of our more modern furnishings due to its simplicity.

21 comments:

  1. Perfect. It's the details that make a space, in the garden or inside. I like your find --- nice!

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  2. Such a challenge to keep the renovation authentic! Love that lamp - what a fortunate find! The details in your house are beautiful - so happy you're going to keep the originals!

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  3. I love your choice...just beautiful! I know how difficult it can be to find just the right accessory or lighting fixture for a space. The elegance and detail are stunning. I enjoy reading about your renovation and home decoration just as much as I do about your garden. Both subjects are interesting to me.

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  4. I love your moulding!!! And of course your light. Very beautiful.
    I'm in agreement with The Sage Butterfly, I love reading about your home renovations as much as about your garden.
    Hugs

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  5. It was a perfect choice and I don't see how you could have done better. So pleased you shared this. So beautiful.

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  6. Absolutely beautiful. Love your taste.

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  7. Simply beautiful - I love the variation on the meander pattern...excellent choice!

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  8. I see why you were taken with this light. Sometimes I think it's very much worth it to spend a little extra on something like this, especially when it takes such prominence in a room. A lamp or hanging light can completely change the feeling of a room, and this one brings some beautiful character and old world charm to the space. Personally, I think it was money very well spent!

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  9. Marguerite girl .. isn't it the most satisfying feeling when you know you have found just the right item ? .. it looks like it has always been there in that room !
    Congratulations girl (Ontario has some pretty neat stores .. eh ? LOL)
    Joy

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  10. Good choice... I got lucky and two of the historic fixtures were still in place, (matching, in the double parlor), but I did have to ferret out three more as the more expensive one in the front hall and those upstairs has 'gone missing'. My house was originally gaslights and I have one of those stored in the attic (quite the exciting attic find!), but I chose to match the existing styles and the medallions. One of my (the upstairs hall)chandeliers had been replaced by a 1950s ceiling mounted fixture. For that type of house it would have been very cool, but it looked utterly ridiculous in my house.

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  11. I am so enjoying your remodel. Great job in here. The details are fabulous.

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  12. Our house still has light fixtures like you replaced. I too like them and each has two 60 watt bubs each, yet the light is very dim in the space. I adore what you replaced them with, so appropriate and fitting the room well.

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  13. Well that is impressive, I love it. Yes, I tried the buy home and go without routine on some things and then just had to venture off Island to get what I wanted. Good choice, your piano room is looking marvelous. I had to take a break for a bit, but plan to return between the weeding. Oh and come visit http://goo.gl/8BZLj I have something new in the garden.

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  14. You made a stunning choice. I can see why you had to have it for that room. It really is special. The original crown is gorgeous too. So nice to see you're enjoying the renovation process!

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  15. Hi Marguerite, Our dining room light is from that same store. We are working on our living room now and I have to say that I dread the choice of a lighting fixture. I have no idea what to choose. My taste is somewhat contemporary and the room is as traditional as yours. How to marry these two different criteria is bound to lead to a lot of looking and shopping around.

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    1. Jennifer, trying to find a balance between old and new is a constant battle for us too. Jody loves modern design and I prefer antique but don't like too much fuss. Trying to find how to incorporate both is sometimes impossible (chrome vs. mahogany?!) and then add in a historic home and it's been a real puzzle to solve.

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  16. Oh wow, that is *gorgeous*! So perfect, too. So glad you kept the ceiling detail and moulding. Very nice!

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  17. Thanks everyone for all your comments. It's been a super busy week here so I'm keeping this brief but wanted everyone to know I read and enjoyed all your thoughts and glad to hear you like this light as much as we do.

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  18. It is perfect, what a stunner you choose.. And I am so glad to hear that you kept the first light, because in my eyes it was gorgeous also...

    What a hard decision to make, keep, buy new, look for old, and expensive of course. But that molding is stunning, and it calls for authenticity.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  19. Hi Marguerite! I'm dragging a bit with keeping up... I read pretty much all of your posts, just so you know... but how I missed this post on your vintage lighting is beyond me. I'm off each morning on a 2 hr walk and then trying to keep busy (like off the computer) during the rest of the daylight hours. Anyway... I'm so loving your ceiling fixture and how incredibly awesome your home renos are coming along.

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  20. Your home is really gorgeous!!! You have wonderful taste. I would have bought it, too. So pretty and unique. :o)

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