Design: Make the switch to antiques

Chandeliers are in all the high-street shops. But as Kate Watson-Smyth discovers, only vintage lights are truly fantastic

James Hall has lost count of the times he's been up a ladder to hang a priceless chandelier and some bright spark has called out: "Brace yerself, Rodney." But the famous scene from Only Fools and Horses, when Del Boy and Rodney let a chandelier crash to the floor because Grandad has unscrewed the wrong one, is a far cry from Hall's rarefied world.

Hall, the chairman of Dernier & Hamlyn, is the holder the Royal Warrant for the design and manufacturer of bespoke chandeliers. "I have held the warrant for 20 years and my father had it for 50 years before that," he says. "We did the new lighting for St Paul's Cathedral last year and obviously we have done work for the Royal Family as well as Saudi princes and lots of celebrities."

But Hall admits that money doesn't necessarily bring taste. "We were called in for a lighting consultation by an interior designer in a grand country house belonging to a merchant banker. I was told to think about what might fit with the new decor and to remove the existing chandelier and chuck it in the skip on my way out. I could tell that this chandelier was an amazing piece, worth well over £100,000. To their credit, the designer and client agreed to leave it and decorate around it."

Of course, this isn't strictly speaking the right way to go about it. Colin Thompson, managing director of Tindle Lighting, sister company to Dernier & Hamlyn, says that you should plan your room first and then choose the style of chandelier to fit that, rather than the other way around. Tindle sells a vast array of vintage chandeliers, and the company has no truck with modern pastiche copies.

Over the past few years, chandeliers have come to dominate the lighting departments of modern design stores. But, while the attraction of these reproduction chandeliers is fading, and as they become fixtures in so many homes, their antique forebears have a timeless appeal.

"You can buy modern ones, and they might well be cheaper – although some of them are very expensive in their own right. But the main thing about vintage ones is that they will hold their value," Thompson says. "If you spend £2,000 and then decide to sell it or to change the look in a few years' time, you will get your money back.

"If you spend £500 on lights from a modern lighting shop, it's worth about £25 five minutes later. Even if you spend £150 and it's allegedly brass, you'll find that it tarnishes really quickly and looks awful," he says.

"And the other thing is that all the neighbours will have the same one. The joy of a vintage chandelier is that they are almost impossible to duplicate, so you will get something really valuable and unique."

Thompson finds many of his chandeliers in French country houses and chateaux. Taken mainly from the side rooms and bedrooms, the lights aren't too large for the average British home.

"Chandeliers have always been popular, and nowadays more people want something different and are prepared to spend a little more money buying something of value," Thompson says.

Gay Brown runs Façade, an Aladdin's cave of 20th-century lighting that features all sorts of chandeliers, many of which are suitable for those on a tighter budget. "Sometimes they are displayed almost as works of art for the home, which they can be," Brown says. "We price our lights to sell, so that we don't have to look at the same ones all the time. Prices start at about £150 for a small one."

Brown says that anyone can buy a chandelier, and as long as your home isn't too modern, and as long as it doesn't have very low ceilings, they will complement all forms of decor. Rather in the way earrings can finish off an outfit, so a well-chosen chandelier can really bring a room to life. But they should complement and enhance the rest of the decor, not drown it out, she says.

"Really contemporary and minimal homes look great with vintage chandeliers. And of course, if you match the lighting to the period of the property, that will also look great," Brown says. "The key is that they shouldn't be too small or they will disappear."

The best way to tell if you are buying a quality item or cheap tat is to examine the quality of the glass. "Also examine the pins that are holding it together. If they are shiny and bright, that can be a sign that they were cheap."

How to choose the right chandelier for your room

*A chandelier should be two inches wide for every foot of room width. In other words, a room that's 15ft wide should have a 30in chandelier.



*The more elaborate the design of the chandelier the bigger it will appear, so take this into account when deciding on the style.



*Although it is very hard to find a matching pair of chandeliers, if you are trying to light a classic double reception room, you will need a light at each end – one oversized one positioned in the middle will tend to look out of proportion.



Contacts:

* The Façade, 99 Lisson Grove, London NW1; 020-7258 2017



* www.tindle-lighting.co.uk; 020-7384 1485



* www.dernier-hamlyn.com; 020-8760 0900

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution