An Expert’s Guide To Vintage Lighting: Featuring Agapanthus
At Vinterior, we understand that a lighting piece can really create a statement in your interior and complete a look. We have interviewed Tom and Zoe from Agapanthus, a seller on Vinterior, to give you a behind the scenes peek at the process of vintage lighting restoration and their top tips on how to decide on that perfect statement lighting piece.
Where are you based and who works with you?
We are based in Stockport, owners are Tom and Zoe and we have 3 people working full time with us, Bob, Annabel and Peter.
How long have you been working with antique lighting and restoration?
Tom has been restoring lights for 23 years since he was 16. Zoe joined the business 7 years ago and we have grown it together from there.
How did you get into it?
Whilst running an antique shop specialising in pine furniture we were asked by a customer to restore a chandelier which got Tom hooked.
What are the processes involved in a renovation of a chandelier?
A typical chandelier restoration would involve photographing the piece in its original state. The chandelier is then taken completely apart and cleaned using various techniques dependant on the material. The chandelier is then re-wired, earthed, insulated and assembled back together. We have extensive supplies of antique and new parts that will cover us for restraint most antique lighting pieces. The chandelier crystals are washed by hand, dried and polished. Where possible we retain the metal pins that attach the crystals together and then hook these back to the chandelier. Sometimes crystals are damaged or missing so we also replace these. The final stage is attaching the ceiling fittings that are required.
What gives you most pleasure with what you do?
It has to be finding amazing pieces at markets and fairs whilst abroad and then when the piece reaches its home and the customer is delighted!
What is your favourite ever piece of antique lighting?
Tom’s favourite lights were 1903 arts and crafts chandeliers that we restored for the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. For Zoe it is a French brass and crystal chandelier with gorgeous cut-crystal swags – it is stunning yet simple and elegant. It’s currently in our lounge! You have to keep the odd piece – makes the job even better.
1800s Italian Florentine Candelabra – £2,225
Buying Antique Lighting
If someone was buying their first antique light what are the top 5 pieces of advice you give them?
- Go with what you love
- Choose something that is the right scale for the room
- Consider what you want the light for…mood, functional, style
- Be bold – a light can make a big impression and be the first thing you notice in a room.
- Buying an antique light is an investment, they are becoming more rare and they will hold their value.
What was the most interesting project or person you have sold a piece to?
Our favourite project was supplying the lighting for a famous fashion model. The property was a beautiful Georgian property that was once the residence of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and J. B. Priestly. The lighting we supplied and sourced was spectacular and seeing the final stages of the whole interior design project was incredible and inspiring.
What trends are you seeing for antique lighting?
French toleware pieces are increasingly popular, particularly the gilt and brass ones. Mid-Century glass pieces are on-trend, particularly the ones from the Bauhaus movement. We love to seek and find the genuine pieces. The classic brass and crystal chandeliers are however timeless!