There are so many styles, influences and histories involved in old houses that the process of choosing a light can be overwhelming. To top it off, when you mix your personal tastes the process of choosing a light can come grinding to a halt because people are afraid of mixing what they like with what they live in.
My best piece of advice to every client is to choose something that they like. It’s their house and they have to enjoy every thing in it as much as possible. I used to be a real historical purist when it came to homes and would mainly guide clients to period fixtures for their period homes.
Some would be really interested and jump at the chance to own something of the era while others leaned towards more modern fixtures 60 years newer than their 1870’s Victorian house. Although it may seem odd to put an Art Deco light into a Victorian home, its actually not.
In fact, it’s very historically accurate.
As I mentioned before, old homes have had a variety of histories. From the people who lived there to both the major and minor changes that have been made to the structure over the years. Tastes and interiors changed and so to did technology. Electric lighting brought about new styles and designs and homes that were converted from gas to electricity often had the newest lights to reflect those styles. We’ve often seen original houses from the turn of the century fitted with all Art Deco lighting because those were the first electric lights ever installed in the house. The same goes with cast arm fixtures or just about any other electric fixture available.
When doing homes that were originally electric, the style is not quite as diverse as there were certain fixtures made for certain styles of homes. In Toronto, we have a plethora of Tudor revival homes, which was the style of choice for many of the 1920s “suburbs” now within the heart of the city. The Tudor and Gothic style can seem very heavy and castle like which is appealing to some and oppressive to others. For clients that want more of an updated look with a period feel, we recommend using lighter finishes on the lighting. In some cases we’ll restore their period lighting that came with the home while in others we’ll select antiques and reproductions from our showroom. Finishes like satin nickel, burnished and highlighted brass and antique brass have a rich but lighter appearance that compliment more contemporary designs while also having a period feel.
Also with older historic homes, what you see is not necessarily what you get. Many have been gutted or drastically transformed over the years with only remnants of their formers selves. Purists will bemoan this fact and often try and bring the home back to what it once was. For this you have my full respect and support as you are doing a huge service to the house. But for those that like the way it is, there are a lot of possibilities inherent on the walls and ceilings. Because you have a blank canvas, treat each light like a piece of art curated in a gallery. You can chose from different, styles and finishes and the only limitations are your budget and imagination.
To learn more about various historic styles, make sure to visit our style guide.
Also, if you have any specific questions regarding your house or a certain style, do not hesitate to email me.