Vintage Pendant Lighting 101
When you consider that the world’s most exquisite paintings—from Rembrandt to Monet—aren’t united by composition or style, but a masterful approach to lighting, there’s no denying it: ambient lighting is a serious must-have. For interiors, recessed and track lighting are go-to ways to enlighten a space, but being the vintage addicts we are, we (no surprise!) carry an Olympian-size torch for vintage pendant lighting.
More artful than recessed bulbs, with the ability to cast a directional spotlight that’s a touch more intimate than that of a ceiling-skimming fixture, nothing compares to vintage pendant lighting in our book. Confirming that there’s serious power in numbers, used pendant lights can be hung in multiples over a kitchen island to create an uber-functional command center in the home, or situated solo over a desk to generate genuine, crystal ball-drop drama. From large, lunar-like pendants to petite, petal-shaped drops that remind us of colored raindrops, there’s no shortage of vintage pendant lighting to choose from, either.
However, some, still fearing the relative unknowingness of pendants, gravitate towards more storied lighting standbys like the chandelier or flush mount. To break away from the pull, read about the endless practicality of vintage pendant lighting, below.
Types of Vintage Pendant Lighting
Teardrops: A chic coffee house standby, these small-scale pendants typically feature cylinder or bell-like shapes and long drops. A petite footprint makes them ideal for uses in multiples (like over a kitchen island), while glass or enamel construction renders them endlessly versatile. The glass can be frosted or opaque—and vividly colored—if desired. Worth noting, is that darker glass won’t diffuse light as readily as a clear glass, rendering these pendants best for spaces that might already have an efficient overhead light source.
Globes: Ever wish you could reach up and pluck a planet to light your space? While those stick-on glow-in-the-dark stars were where it was at as a kid, they don’t exactly lend themselves to adulthood. Lucky for you, vintage globe pendants fit the bill quite nicely too. Sometimes crafted of glass, but more frequently fashioned from a lightweight material like rice paper, these pendants guarantee soothing glows and make easy work of imbuing a bedroom or living room with Zen-like vibes.
Drums: Not the marching band icon that its name implies, this elegant fixture features a chic, cylinder shape. A marvelously dimensional fixture, vintage drum pendants are either composed of a flat, circular framework covered in a linen or glass, or forgo a covering altogether to showcase an elaborate, trellis-style framework. An added bonus of these pendants is that the drum shade frequently conceals an interior, multi-light candelabra which will maximize light output.
Lanterns: Consider a lantern any fixture that pre-Edison, would have housed a flickering candle. This includes Moroccan lanterns, glass hurricane styles, and oversized Colonial-inspired fixtures. We particularly love these types of vintage pendants in grand, soaring entryways. The oversized proportions of lanterns read especially well in echo-prone areas, while multiple lights ensure that your doorway is flawlessly lit. Finishes we love include distressed metals and woods, as these pieces exude an undeniably rustic, element-battered feel.
Where to Hang Your Vintage Pendant Lighting
Lest you underestimate the power of symmetry, dropping two vintage pendants on either side of a bed will make you seriously reconsider. While a grand headboard is always grounds for sweet dreams, it can sometimes leave nightstands feeling dwarfed. The easiest solution? Pendants. Not only do they free up precious surface space by rendering table lamps unnecessary, but they add a sense of regality. Among our favorite styles to try with this look: small globes in finishes like pierced brass or colored glass.
In a Stairwell
While lofty stairwells are always lovely, they can feel overwhelmingly underdressed in homes that are otherwise decorated to the nines. One solution is to install a marvelously grand light fixture. But many stairwells are asymmetrical, making the Rorschach-like nature of chandelier feel entirely off-balance. In contrast, a cluster of three identical pendant lights hung at staggering heights can mimic the ascending nature of stairs. The vibe? Entirely right.
Over the Foot of a Bed
You know how a throw folded at the foot of a bed can make it feel luxuriously complete? A secondhand pendant light does exactly the same. The perfect way to define the end of a bed that doesn’t have a traditional footboard, this look is best mastered by ensuring that the lowest point of your antique pendant hovers no less than seven feet above the floor. This will ensure no bumps in the night. For an unquestionably polished look, opt for drum or globe pendants.