Let there be light!
Dec 25, 2019 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Being on the precipice of a new year is always exciting. A new year means a chance for new adventures, new memories, and new chapters. It is also a wonderful time to reflect on the year that’s been – lessons learned and blessings received. As 2019 comes to an end, let’s shine some light on a brand-new decade with some vintage lighting tips. Join us as we declare – let there be light!
Let’s start with some tips from my beloved reference guide, the 1968 edition of the “Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book.” Firstly, we have to consider the trio of illumination fundamentals: background light, local light, and accent light. Background light is all about setting the vibe, embracing your room in a relaxing glow. This is great for a night of retro movie appreciation. If you are getting ready to do some handiwork, local light is just the thing. This can be achieved by table lamps or fixtures that are near the spot where you are doing your activities. Accent lighting brings the drama and adds a pop when you turn the spotlight on a cherished collectible or piece of furniture.
If precision is something that speaks to your heart, here are some luminous data points. For avid readers, 39-42 inches is the sweet spot. This measurement includes the table, plus lamp base height. Now that you have your y-axis bearing, you should consider the ideal x-axis. 20 inches from the lamp to your book spine will make your night of reading relaxing and enjoyable. Try rearranging your reading nook to these recommendations & allow the glimmer to inspire your imagination. (If the lamp is on the floor, rather than a side table, add another 7 inches to the height and take away 5 inches from the horizontal plane.) Here’s another modern lighting scenario: working away at a desk. 15 inches from the desk top to the lamp shade bottom is perfect and 12-15 inches from the lamp to your stationary or laptop will have you churning out literary masterpieces in no time! Other tips/tricks to consider include scale (make sure your side tables are smaller than your chairs & about the same height as the arm), colors (lighter hues on the walls will make your space feel larger), and making the most of the light nature provides.
Once you’ve planned your lightscape, it’s time to pick out your fixtures. (My favorite part of the process!) If you decide to go with vintage lighting accessories it’s important to remember to keep your eyes peeled. Carefully look over the piece in question and assess the condition of both the base & the shade. The lamp shade is typically the portion that is most valuable, so be sure to take a second look at the shade’s details. If the cord isn’t damaged, you can plug it in to confirm the lamp still works. If the cord has some damage, you’ll want to take this into consideration when you offer a price as you will need to buy a lighting kit (or possibly even engage an electrician). For those of us who get excited about manufacturing lineage, you can typically find markings in these spots: the bottom of the base or the bulb socket. Don’t hang your hat on lampshade labels as shades and bases switch dance partners more often than a belle of the ball!
We’ve researched vintage redecorating tips in the past, but I think finding the ideal light fixture is just as thrilling as grabbing a Lane end table on sale at a consignment shop! After a long day at work, there’s nothing quite like curling up to a soft glow and Thin Man movie. Your furniture stays the same, but lighting can transform the energy of your entire space (much like a brooch sparks new life into a well-loved outfit). So glow on dear readers, embrace this new year and let there be light on your path ahead!