Thursday, January 22, 2009

About Chandeliers

About Chandeliers

It's an exciting decorating trend. The old-fashioned chandelier has been updated by modern designers. What was finicky and cluttered looking at Aunt Bessy's house can be a simplified modern version in yours. These new fixtures blend into traditional and modern decor beautifully, proving that a chandelier is much more than a way to light a room. It sets the mood, creates ambiance and expresses your personality. Does this Spark an idea?

History and Mystery

Think of an old medieval church or monastery with its long echoing halls and large rooms. To light these cloistered environs, chandeliers came into being as fixtures that could hang from the ceiling with "arms" that reached out, bearing lights. From a simple wooden cross holding candles or a clay pot hung on ropes holding oil and a lit wick, to the dazzling, sparkling fixtures of today, chandeliers have come a long way.


Crystal chandeliers became the preferred choice in the 17th century, when lead crystal was first developed by a glass maker in England. The addition of lead oxide to rock crystal added shine, sparkle and the ability to refract light. It also became easier to cut and not so brittle that it shattered. The ease of cutting brought on the subsequent artistry we see in crystal chandeliers. Now flickering light bounces off tiers of crystal and flashes all the colors of the rainbow off of dangling pendants and diamond like drops. By the 18th and 19th centuries, ornate crystal chandeliers made a statement of elegance and opulence in the finest homes and palaces in the world.

Color and Design

No longer is a chandelier the one thing in your house you never really look at, and forget to dust. Now it can be a shining red glass chandelier, holding flame shaped bulbs, dripping with pendants and teardrops--vaguely reminiscent of an antique chandelier, but much brighter, shinier and more trendy. Even if it's the only change you make, a new chandelier can makeover your entire room, and in fact, cast a new light on your overall decor. Hurry to a lighting store and gaze at all the choices available.


Why be like everybody else? Put in a chandelier that is a picture of a chandelier. A simple hanging shade, perfect above your table, printed with a beautiful silver chandelier. Or a glossy black chandelier made of round shapes and featuring little round bulbs. You can hang a replica of a kerosene lamp as a chandelier, or you can have an old wagon wheel made into a chandelier. You can hang two or three sizes of plain white shades together, but paint the insides in the same tree or flower pattern. After all, that's what you see when you're looking up from the table: the inside of the shades. Scout out thrift stores and garage sales, too. If you happen upon an old wrought iron chandelier, snap it up. You can take it home and spray paint it with glossy enamel in any color you like.

Generic or Specific

The generic chandelier, the one you see in model homes in new subdivisions, is often just artificial brass with white globes. It won't offend anyone, but it won't excite them either. Authentic antique chandeliers are very expensive; hopefully you'll inherit one from Aunt Bessy. Reproductions of antique chandeliers range in price depending on how elaborate they are, but are certainly more affordable than a real Baccarat crystal chandelier from a palace in France. Updated, stylized and trendy chandeliers can be as affordable as $300-$400. (See the Lekker Home printed chandelier.) Or they can be as expensive as $1,200. (See the red chandelier from Design Within Reach.) However, there is always the do-it-yourself chandelier you pick up secondhand and paint yourself. That can be the trendiest choice of all, customized for your taste and color scheme.

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