How did Louisa Pierce and Emily Ward of Pierce & Ward become the go-to designers for celebrity royalty (Lily Aldridge, Brie Larson, Dakota Johnson…to name a few)? By designing interiors that break all the rules and reflect an unapologetic affinity for old-world romance. Nowhere is their show-stopping style more evident than in their approach to vintage lighting, which they use in all their projects. To go along with their curation of Chairish favorites, we asked the pair to share their guide to vintage lighting, including insight into how they choose, rehab, and place each vintage find, giving the rest of us a roadmap for their unique lighting look.
For Table Surfaces
Where do Emily and Louise like to use vintage table lamp? “Everywhere!” They especially love placing them where you’d least expect. “We love to use smaller, special vintage finds in bathrooms and kitchens specifically,” they say. As with any table lamp, there are some practical considerations that come into play. “Make sure if the lamp is for a bedside table that it’s the correct height where you don’t see the bulb from above or below. We find that vintage table lamps that are too tall end up being really difficult to place.”
A vintage table lamp can infuse a space with instant character, but the buck doesn’t stop with the base. “We never like to use white,” say Pierce and Ward of their preferred lamp shades. “We love to add a custom fringe to the bottom, or sometimes to the top and bottom, of the shade. For color, we usually use ivory, black or green.”
When they find a vintage table lamp that has logged a good number of years, the designers always opt to give the wiring some love. “It’s always smart to rewire,” says Louisa. “In fact, Emily got electrocuted last year because we forgot to rewire a lamp.” Rewiring can also be an opportunity to further customize your find. “We like to rewire using rope cord, so if it has to show a little bit, it looks much prettier. It’s also fun to add a pull chain, especially for bedside tables, and we always think dimmable is the way to go.”
For Overhead Spots
Shape and Style
The vintage chandeliers and pendant lighting used by Pierce and Ward are always unexpected choices, which it turns out is absolutely by design. “We like to find unique shapes or designs when sourcing,” they reveal. A few of their favorites? “We love globes of all kinds, stars, and anything with a fringe or a tassel!” As for which vintage styles they think work well in almost any space? “Anything in the vein of Josef Hoffmann.”
Beyond sourcing eye-catching vintage styles, these pros love to play with portion to push the design envelope even further. “We like to use small scale for large spaces and large scale for small spaces to add interest,” say the duo. “Smaller pieces that are super special really look like jewels when hung low, or in the right space.”
Like most of us, the designers have learned some hanging lessons the hard way. “Always rewire with a longer amount of wire and chain than you think you need!” Given that their vintage chandelier and pendant finds are absolute show-stoppers, they prefer not to have them hidden up amongst the rafters. “Always hang overhead lights as low as possible,” advises Louisa.
For The Wall
In a space designed by Pierce and Ward, you never know where you might spot a vintage sconce. “We love to place a single unique sconce in a very unexpected place (we usually find the piece first),” they say, “but we love sconces anywhere you can put them.” For the designers, sconces also function as the most pleasing supplemental light source. “Sconces are always the most flattering light source in the evening. In a more formal, less functional room, we prefer a chandelier with scones to recessed lighting for added ambiance.”
Shape and Style
When scouring fleas (or Chairish!) Louisa and Emily are all about unearthing sconces with a storied past. “We lean towards French Empire style because they are so romantic and easy to place, and we love the dripping candle sleeves. If we get stuck with a plastic sleeve we will spray paint it a fun color!”
Because they are hardwired into the wall, the designers advise paying close attention to dimensions with purchasing a vintage sconce. “Always make sure you have a large enough backplate to cover up the electrical,” says Louisa. “Oftentimes the best sconces are old and European, and the backplate is too small!”
Thank you to Louisa and Emily for dropping some vintage lighting knowledge!
Lead Photo by Leslee Mitchell