Say the word chandelier and most people get crystals in their eyes. Rightfully so, but plenty of chandeliers are all about breaking tradition too. From sputnik-inspired bursts to Lucite ribbon pendants, vintage chandeliers need not always be a silver spoon affair. Don’t keep them confined to the dining room, either. String one up in a bold-painted powder room for max drama, or install one in an office to bestow an extra ladylike vibe. Whether you opt for crystals are not, a used chandelier is the fool-proof way to get things positively sparkling.
THE (CRYSTAL-LESS) GUIDE TO VINTAGE CHANDELIERS
You have to give the vintage chandelier credit. Yes, it began as a lighting source, but somewhere along the way it became a universal symbol of chic. Maybe it’s all those beads and tiers that gets hearts racing, but we think it’s more likely the way a used chandelier introduces itself to a space without inhibition. While flush mounts and pendants tend to refrain from calling much attention to themselves, a vintage chandelier is an undeniable exhibitionist; the only piece that will really have your dining table worked into a tizzy about possibly being upstaged.
For devotees who already consider a vintage chandelier a non-negotiable, their benefit is clear, but for those who balk at the idea of stringing up a delicate, lace-like fixture in their concrete-floored den? Trust us, there are antique chandeliers that feel anything but chi chi. Case in point? Modern, constellation-like chandeliers that stretch the length of a room like a long, languid tree limb, or the ultimate black magic woman: a black crystal chandelier.
In honor of some of these oft-overlooked secondhand chandelier styles, we’ve compiled a list of our all-time favorites: The Murano, the Sputnik, and the Italian tole. Along with a call-out, we’ve paired each with a series of helpful tips on how to best maximize their style. Yes, consider this our vintage chandelier bucket list.
If you ask us, nothing rivals the mystique of a Murano chandelier. Featuring bold, overblown color and fantastical shapes pulled straight from a surrealist fantasy, they are undeniable statement pieces. And yet, as anyone who’s ever opted for one can attest to, they can be notoriously difficult to work into an interior.
Our solution? Take a moment to consider your chandy’s color. Have a monochromatic, ruby red chandelier that you were planning to make a grand statement with in an all-white room? Yeah, that might have proved to be a bit…bold. While tempting in theory, a mono-color chandelier will actually make the most impact in a room where its color is repeated at eye-level. This means if you plan to hang a gorgeous turquoise chandelier in dining room, try using a turquoise hutch in the corner. Blush pink chandelier in a bedroom? Drape a ballet-hue throw at the foot of your bed. Beyond that, styling won’t matter as much as you think.
Inspired by the rise of space exploration in the late 1950s, the vintage sputnik chandelier is one of our favorite Mid-Century takeaways. Stylistically, it features a center ball from which dozens of straight spokes protrude. Each of the spokes end in exposed bulb, and a metallic brass finish lends the entire piece the unsuspecting look of a combusting star.
Used in an interior, a Sputnik chandelier is an accessible way to integrate a Mid-Century Modern element into a space without straying into full-blown lava lamp mode. The design itself, however, does require a bit of planning to ensure it doesn’t fade into the background. Meaning? Well, for maximum impact, consider using a Sputnik in a room with dark or graphic wallpaper. When backed with moody color or pattern, the negative space between the chandelier spokes will really encourage the chandelier's brass finish to pop.
Other tricks to consider? Opt for a slightly oversized model and hanging it daringly low to a dining table surface. Yep, instant drama. For those who dare to gander even further into boomtown territory, purchase three Sputnik chandeliers for an entry and hang them at staggered heights. It’ll curate a look that’s, well, booming.
ITALIAN TOLE CHANDELIER
And yet sometimes a grand chandelier is the exact opposite of what a room needs. Be it a nursery, playroom, or a walk-in closet, sometimes the vibe is more darling than daring. For spaces with a toothsome note, a vintage tole chandelier can often be the ideal dose of something sweet—perfect for accenting a room like a bow on a package, but possessing no risk of overpowering it.
Tole, a metal ware painted in a rustic style, is pretentious-less by nature, and fittingly, chandeliers made of the material tend to feature floral motifs and pastel colors. A no-think option for shabby chic-style interiors, or any space with a lullaby feeling, these chandeliers can provide a bolt of drama without the unnecessary opulence.
One thing to keep in mind when using a vintage tole chandelier, is that they tend to be on the compact side, so to keep proportions right, we recommend hanging these petite treats directly over a small piece of furniture like a crib, craft table, or a breakfast nook dinette. For a more dramatic take on the tole chandelier, we also love the idea of dropping a matching pair on either side of a bed. Yep, instant sweet dreams!