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22 San Diego Uptown News | April 29–May 12, 2011


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Colonial Revival 1920s pan light with original shades. (Courtesy Michael Good)

Shedding light on antique fixtures

reveals one’s taste and finances and provides a warmth and glow that people are instinctually drawn to. Vintage lighting fixtures also add a note of old-world charm—if


ighting is among the more evocative aspects of one’s home: It imparts style,

HouseCalls Michael Good

they’re in good shape. But if your antique chandelier’s missing, or more dim than dazzling, you can easily replace it.

Buying antique lighting can be fun. The workmanship and the inventiveness of the designs, which incorporate a plethora of themes and mo- tifs—spiders and webs, flowers and fruit, Greek keys and Egyp- tian symbols—are delightful in their own right. And there’s an element of the treasure hunt involved in buying antique lighting. As with antiques, manufacturers can be well known or obscure. Prices can range from the affordable (say $200 for a wall bracket) to the ridiculous—$20,000 for fixtures from Stickley or Tiffany. There are at least three ap-

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proaches to restoring your home’s lighting. You can go completely authentic, by first establishing the style of your house—Spanish Re- vival or Arts and Crafts, Colonial Revival or Tudor. Then you do the research and do the shopping. Plan B would be to pick a style you like (that’s available and afford- able) and stick with it. This works if you’re not sure about the style of your house, or if you have a 1920s Revival, because houses of that era sometimes mixed styles. For example, Spanish-style houses often had art deco fixtures. (And art deco is more widely available than Spanish-style fixtures, and more affordable.) Plan C is to throw caution to the wind and install whatever lighting catches your fancy, although this approach usually only works for design professionals, or on reality TV. Antique lighting, particularly when it’s in good shape, has become increasingly rare and expensive. San Diego, which was a small town in 1915, never had much of it to start with. That great source of antique lighting for the last few de- cades, the Midwest, has also been pretty much picked clean. Still, a few local shops continue to stock vintage lighting. Tap Lighting, in Hillcrest (3690 Sixth Ave. (619) 692-0065), has a good supply of art deco lighting. Gib- son & Gibson (gibsonandgibso- is mostly known for restoration work (it repaired lights for the White House), but it also sells restored

see House, page 23

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