Design Hints

Light It Right

Learn the best ways to illuminate period style throughout your house with helpful hints from an antiques-loving Tennessee homeowner.

Armed with an attention to detail that helps her conjure charming design, Betty Alexander enhances her Goodlettsville, Tennessee, home's Colonial character by incorporating vintage-style light fixtures that reflect historic fittings from long ago. Keep reading for a few ways you, too, can shine a period-apt light.

Match Materials to Your Scheme: Colonial environs call for pierced-tin, painted-metal, pewter or black-iron fixtures and candleholders. Betty employs these media in every room of her home, from hogscraper candlesticks in the living room to a punched-tin pendant over the kitchen sink.

Limit Overhead Lighting: To create quaint and cozy quarters, illuminate your rooms with lamps or candles. Betty does have a few ceiling fixtures, but her chandeliers are equipped with a single bulb that casts a gentle glow, instead of the glaring light often produced by overhead illumination. However, in work areas, such as the kitchen, she opts for pendant-style task lights with old-timey profiles.

Power It With Candlelight: Flickering candles, whether fueled by fire or electricity, make for nostalgic night-lights. Place candles that coordinate with your color scheme inside Early-American-style wall sconces, candle chandeliers, and tabletop candleholders or lanterns. Look for battery- or electric-powered candle lights set within a jar or that rise from chamber-stick or funnel-lamp holders, and use them to brighten tabletops, mantels and room corners.

Convert a Collectible: Use hardware-store lamp kits to turn collectibles, such as crocks, old bottles, birdhouses and canning jars, into stylish lamps. A few such lights made from stoneware jugs and topped with blue and red fabric shades cast a glow near Betty's living room windows.

Written by Ann Wilson
Photographed and Styled by Franklin & Esther Schmidt