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Perhaps more than any other design element, lighting can dramatically alter your home’s atmosphere and overall aesthetic. The Victorians, as the people who welcomed the advent of electric lighting, knew this better than anyone. Victoria’s reign lasted an incredible 64 years, stretching from 1837 to 1901. During this time, the iconic queen witnessed the gradual move from rudimentary lighting using tallow candles and oil lamps, to middle-class homes lit with gas, and eventually even electricity. Because of the swift changes taking place both in terms of industrial capabilities and cultural shifts, Victorian lamps are diverse in design, ranging from the pleasingly pretty to the solidly utilitarian. Take a look at the Vinterior range to identify your favourite styles.
Why choose Victorian lamps?If you are looking to create impact and illuminate a dark corner, a Victorian standing lamp could be the answer. Sold both with and without shades, these pieces are great when you want a combination of welcoming cosiness and unquestionable elegance. Look for brass bases, coyly nodded heads, fringed shades in decadent colours, and intricate ironwork or enamelling.
Towards the end of the Victorian period, the Tiffany shade was introduced to the market. An original Tiffany shade dating from the 1890s is an extremely rare and precious find but a modern one paired with an authentic Victorian stand works beautifully. The Victorian penchant for dark woods like walnut and mahogany also made its way into lighting products. Beautifully turned, high-polish woods formed the base of both side lamps and standard lamps. These pieces look excellent paired with shades in quirky modern prints and colours, creating a look you can often find here at Vinterior.
The stand-alone lamp with glass oil reservoir and gently flickering flame housed in an open bulb, is a key component of the classic Victorian mantlepiece. Although the basic practical design and function of these lamps varies little, the materials used to make them and other visual modifications do. Cast iron, brass, silver and ceramics formed into all sorts of whimsical shapes were all used as bases. Glass was sometimes patterned, painted with enamels, cranberry-hued, or the familiar and very pretty milky green the Victorians loved.
Today, it is possible to buy Victorian lamps that have been reconditioned as electric lamps, wall or ceiling shades, affording the 19th century look but conforming to modern Health & Safety requirements. Wall lamps, initially oil-fuelled but eventually gas-lit, were also a common sight in Victorian homes. They make a pretty addition in lounges and bedrooms, casting a gentle evening light, particularly in homes dating from the period.
The current trend for steam-punk, or Victoriana items has embraced lighting too. Victorian street lamps repurposed for a domestic setting make real style impact, indirectly referencing the feel and look of the day.
Ready to invest in a Victorian lamp?An artisan object or a lovingly restored antique will always deliver more value to your home in the style stakes than a mass-produced modern piece. These are the objects that define your home’s specific vibe, and they are bought to be cherished, rather than simply used. While a Victorian lamp may not be the largest purchase you ever make for your home, it can certainly be among the most meaningful ones.
Vinterior is home to an ever-changing market of intriguing vintage furniture, accessories and homewares. Whenever you are looking for something specific, or even if you just want a little fresh thinking on interiors, it’s always nice to have you pay us a visit.