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Anyone who knows me quickly learns I am all about the 1920s. I am crazy about almost everything this decade had to offer- jewelry, dresses, hats, and, oh yes, who could forget the fabulous, elegant, made-to-last furniture and lighting?!
Are you wondering when electric lights became common in American households? This was the decade!
I know that everyone wants to be practical, but can I tell you a secret? While I love some of the modern-day lighting and furniture designs, most products today lack originality and durability.
Lately, I’ve been shopping for some new lights for my living room when I discovered that you can still purchase vintage-looking chandeliers!
Yes, it was nearly impossible for me to choose because there were so many choices, so I thought, if I’m fascinated by this style, perhaps my readers will be interested as well.
Today, let’s talk all things lighting with an emphasis on the breathtaking chandelier styles of the 1920s.
Did Everyone Have Electric Lights in the 1920s?
It didn’t start off that way, and that’s a fact, but it was during this decade that electric lighting inside your home began to become a staple.
Edison may have discovered how to harness electricity and shocked the world with those electric outdoor lights in Manhattan in 1882, but not everyone was quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Before Edison, the majority of people simply relied on the light from the fireplace, candles, or oil lamps.
Then came the explosive invention of using coal gas as lighting. Coal gas burned and emitted thick, black, oily smoke that would stain walls and ceilings (which is why this type of light was never used in the bedroom), but it did produce a very bright light, unlike candles and oil lamps.
In the year 1920, only 35 percent of Americans had electric lights, but this was the decade that changed everything! By 1925, 50 percent of homes had electricity, and by 1930, it was a whopping 68 percent!
It only makes sense that, with thousands of people adding electricity to their homes, they would want gorgeous lights to show off their status!
Imagine being one of the first in your neighborhood to not only have electric lights but also show it off in something as elegant as this?
Let’s talk about some of the more popular styles that are still available today.
The Most Beautiful 1920s Chandelier Styles
Inspired by the iconic Roaring Twenties, I think these chandeliers accent the spirit of an era marked by prosperity and cultural change.
For example, many flapper dresses had fringe. Whether a fringe-lined hem or fringe all over- fringe was definitely IN when it came to dresses.
Now imagine fringes on your bedroom lighting.
I love the way this almost smoky yellow chandelier looks like it’s been passed down through the ages.
Characterized by their intricate details, cascading crystals in most instances, and ornate metalwork, these luminaires create a sense of grandeur and sophistication that instantly transforms any space into a captivating ballroom or Gatsby-inspired salon.
Notice how many of the chandelier styles mimic the earrings that were popular during this time period.
It’s easy to see how earrings such as these
inspired chandeliers such as this:
I wonder if anyone ever considered using pearls in their chandeliers?
Other chandelier styles included crystals and detailed, intricate metalwork mimicking leaves
or stars (This reminds me of a sunburst, but others have called it a star chandelier.)
Remember that opulence and luxury was the look of this era and what screams “wealth” louder than a gold-and-crystal chandelier?
I think you can start to appreciate why I had such a difficult time choosing the right lighting for my living room!
This is really the tip of the iceberg. Wait until you see the gorgeous styles in the next section.
1920s Art Deco Lighting
This decade was simply overflowing with art and style that had never been seen before.
Art deco was THE fashion style of the Roaring 20s and with good reason. To Americans, Art Deco was fresh and clean looking, so it only makes sense that you would want something similar when choosing interior lighting.
This style has made a huge comeback, and you’ll see it on sale in most warehouse-type home store at various price points.
Art Deco got its start in Paris, France, so it’s no wonder that people would search for French-styled interior lighting, such as this:
This feather-inspired art deco lighting would be the perfect style for a hallway or entry way.
I spoke earlier about how I believe many interior lighting styles were fashioned from jewelry and flapper dresses of the time, and this piece proves my point:
With its gold finish and hanging crystal pendants, this luxurious light fixture has many of the same features that flapper dresses and earrings contained!
If you prefer an Italian design to a French one, you might find this quaint chandelier to your liking.
The Art Deco influence is palpable in the geometric patterns and sleek lines that adorn these chandeliers, showcasing a fusion of modernist principles with luxurious embellishments.
Let’s see what was considered standard lighting for bathrooms.
- Related Article: Art Deco Vs Art Nouveau
Vintage 1920s Porcelain Bathroom Lighting
Did you know that, like electric lights, most homes did not have indoor plumbing until the 1920s?
By the end of this decade, approximately 50 percent of all homes would have a traditional bathroom with indoor plumbing.
You need to consider some factors, or at least common sense, before deciding on a lighting fixture. You wouldn’t want to put a chandelier or even an art deco light in your bathroom, as it seemed incongruous. While porcelain had been around for quite some time, apparently no one had considered using it for anything other than cups, plates, and vases.
That is, until someone decided to add porcelain scones to lighting fixtures.
Nowadays, old fashioned porcelain lights with scones are nearly impossible to find, but you can find some vintage-like styles that were common in bathrooms in this era, such as this simple vanity light in bronze,
or this glass-and-brass wall-supported lighting.
School house lights, sometimes unflatteringly called boob lights, were also popular choices for what were called water closets.
I love this simple design that still packs in so much style, you can’t help but be impressed.
Etched glass was also a popular choice for bathroom lights in the Jazz Age.
Who doesn’t think that this look is timeless and elegant?
Need to light up a dining room? I’ve got some real inspiration for you in the next section.
1920s Dining Room Chandeliers
Whether suspended in a glamorous foyer, casting a warm glow over a dining soiree, or gracing a chic lounge, 1920s-style chandeliers serve as both functional illuminators and works of art.
Like living rooms, dining rooms were formal places in this time period. Most people would dress up just to have supper, so you would want your dining room light fixture to be something special.
You’ll see this 5-or-more-layered design almost everywhere nowadays. It seems like many people are interested in adding more glamour and elegance to their homes, including the formal dining room.
I really like this mix of gold and crystal since it keeps the light from looking gaudy. This is a terrific chandelier with a mix of vintage layers in a modern setting.
If you want a truly vintage-looking fixture that will make everyone wonder if you took it from your grandmother’s attic, check this out!
Isn’t this stunning? I’m crazy about this elegant but not overstated chandelier!
Last, let’s look at another blend of modern and vintage.
I love the harmonious blend of 2020 and 1920! Can’t you just picture this in your dining room?!
Before You Head Out The Door
I’m sure you’re anxious to start working on your remodeling project, but before you buy a 1920s French-styled dining light
or a small but elegant crystal leaf chandelier,
remember that lighting is a matter of personal taste.
If you find an interior light that really speaks to you, then that’s the perfect choice, no matter what anyone else says!
Adding a 1920s chandelier into your space is more than just adding light – it’s embracing an era of glamour, innovation, and artistic expression.
With their captivating designs and intricate details, these chandeliers become the centerpiece of any room, casting a mesmerizing ambiance that transports you to the Roaring Twenties.
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.