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In Arts & Crafts design, lamps (this one antique) are themselves works of art.

Lighting to Accent and Define

by Patricia Poore on April 11, 2011

in Lighting & Hardware

ABOVE: In Arts & Crafts design, lamps (this one antique) are themselves works of art. Photo by Alexander Vertikoff

Bungalows, Tudors, and Foursquares date to the electric era, after all, so lighting is integral to the Arts & Crafts interior. Many styles of chandeliers, ceiling pendants, beam lights, floor lamps, and table lamps were available even during the period. Craftsman lighting adds immeasurably to the mood.

Indirect and ambient lighting are as important in Craftsman homes as anywhere—perhaps more so, because quiet illumination (with sources on dimmers) contributes to the soft-glowing mood of Arts & Crafts interiors. Plan for hidden light sources such as cornice lighting and under-cabinet lighting.

More visible light sources—pendants and chandeliers, wall brackets (sconces), and floor and table lamps—provide room lighting and task lighting, of course. Just as important, these lamps and fixtures contribute immeasurably to the overall look, defining style and character. Try to imagine a Greene & Greene dining room without its boxlike, wood and art-glass chandelier . . . or a 1930s movie palace without its Art Deco slipper sconces.

Defining a house: Lighting with a late-medieval, Tudor Gothic look is perfectly matched to this 1908 Arts & Crafts Tudor.

Defining a house: Lighting with a late-medieval, Tudor Gothic look is perfectly matched to this 1908 Arts & Crafts Tudor. Photo by William Wright.

Like the mantelpiece and furniture, light fixtures go a long way toward defining a house, bringing a consistent voice. Lighting is also suggestive of the era of the house; fixtures may reveal the transition from gaslight, or embrace the utilitarian styling of the early electric era, or show the pervasive effect of the Colonial Revival.

Defining an era: Jazzy ceiling lights capture the mood in a kitchen designed after a Depression-era diner.

Defining an era: Jazzy ceiling lights capture the mood in a kitchen designed after a Depression-era diner. Photo by Dan Bates.

With a reliance on art glass, wood and copper or bronze, and mica, Arts & Crafts fixtures match the autumnal colors of the Craftsman palette. Soft lighting illuminates warm, subtle highlights in oak trim. The era’s green pottery glows in the pool of light beneath a table lamp’s amber mica shade.

Defining a palette: Mellow drop pendants by Arroyo Craftsman bring out highlights in woodwork and suggested the color scheme in this Pasadena dining room.

Defining a palette: Mellow drop pendants by Arroyo Craftsman bring out highlights in woodwork and suggested the color scheme in this Pasadena dining room. Photo by Jaimee Itagaki

The fixture itself and the light it casts help define a space, even creating rooms within rooms. The trick is evident when you think of a double or triple pendant over a kitchen island or, more traditionally, a generous ceiling fixture hanging low over the dining-room table.

Defining a space: Echoing the tabletop and large in scale, this new fixture helps define the breakfast nook as a separate space in a long kitchen.

Defining a space: Echoing the tabletop and large in scale, this new fixture helps define the breakfast nook as a separate space in a long kitchen. Photo courtesy Crown Point Cabinetry.

Never have so many Arts & Crafts lighting choices been available. Choose among various sub-styles (Pasadena, Asian-influenced, Spanish, neo-Gothic, Prairie, Shingle and Cottage) in a full complement of sizes, metals and finishes, shades—and pricing.

Defining a style: A suite of similar light fixtures is in keeping with this vintage California Bungalow decorated with Native and Spanish  influences.

Defining a style: A suite of similar light fixtures is in keeping with this vintage California Bungalow decorated with Native and Spanish influences. Photo by William Wright.

Many people splurge on just one or two special fixtures or lamps—perhaps a unique vintage piece or a handcrafted art lamp by one of today’s revival artisans. Then, they fill the rest of their lighting needs with period-style reproductions and simple fixtures. (Then again, we know collectors who’ve spent 30 years amassing antique lighting!)

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