How To Buy Vintage Lighting

Reclaimed buys add texture and character to a space. We talk to the experts about what to consider when hunting for antiques

Why would I use vintage lights in my home?

‘They have a story; each piece is original and it comes to you with its own unique history,’ says Sophie Miller, co-founder of reclaimed lighting specialist Skinflint (skinflintdesign.com). ‘Lights manufactured from 1900 to 1970 were made before the concept of planned obsolescence – these lights were built to last.’ ‘The imperfections of anything old are attractive,’ adds Nick Newman, managing director of architectural salvage company Lassco (lassco.co.uk).

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What should I be aware of when choosing vintage? ‘Shop around, as some dealers polish the metal on lights and some don’t, which changes their aesthetic considerably,’ says Newman. ‘Check that the outdated wiring has been completely replaced with modern fittings,’ advises Miller. It’s also important that desk and floor lights have been tested for safety.

Is there anywhere vintage lights can’t be used? ‘Reclaimed lighting is not IP rated (suitable for use in wet environments) so can’t be used in bathrooms or outdoors – even lights that were originally manufactured for these conditions,’ explains Miller.

What’s trending in the world of vintage lights at the moment? ‘There’s a move away from the heavier, hard aesthetic of certain industrial lighting – people want something subtler,’ explains Newman. ‘Cut glass is big at the moment, as well as the curves of hand-blown or Czech moulded glass – they work with any interior scheme,’ says Miller.

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