The thrill of the hunt for me really is digging through cardboard boxes, old garages, through racks of clothes, and around dusty shops full of cats and unfriendly shopkeepers. These are the settings where the most treasure can be found. Sometimes, however, Mum and I some up empty-handed. In fact, we’ve had spells where we don’t find anything of interest for weeks at a time! In other situations, we find everything we don’t need more of (tea sets, moth-eaten tapestries) and never the one item we are desperate to find. For us, it’s chandeliers. Once a means of lighting drafty castles in the medieval ages, chandeliers were not the grandiose, crystal-draped displays of wealth and class as they eventually became. Today, they can be purchased at stores and even online for thousands of dollars. The issue isn’t necessarily that they are a rare item to be found, but that often when they are they are either extremely overpriced or in less than excellent condition (sometimes both!).
We get a lot of customers asking about chandeliers for their dining rooms, their foyers, or even their bathrooms. We understand the popularity. Chandeliers create a warm, elegant glow that other light fixtures just can’t quite cultivate, don’t they? We give these chandelier-seekers the same advice every time – be open-minded. The best way to find an inexpensive vintage chandelier is to not focus too much on how it looks when it’s initially found. Mum once brought home a chandelier with none of its original crystal pieces. It was like looking at a male roe deer without any of his antlers. “What is that thing?” and “How much did you pay for it?” was probably my first questions for her as I stared at its nakedness.
Little did I know, the fun part was waiting to happen. Mum went into another room of the house and returned, jingling, like Tinker Bell on payday. She was carrying a large plastic bag full of what looked to be chandelier crystals.
“I bought these two years ago thinking I could use them as Christmas ornaments and had totally forgotten about them!” Her face was pink and cheery as if it was Christmas.
We spent the next half hour going through the bag and dividing the chipped crystals from the ones in better condition. Most of them had gold-flecked wire appendages on them, making it easy for us to attach them through the tiny holes of the intricate, gorgeous light fixture. For the ones that didn’t, we took out a bag of unopened ornament wire and quickly spray-painted them gold to create a cohesive, professional look. Once they were dry, we added the rest of the crystals.
When the chandelier was hung, you never would have guessed the crystals hadn’t belonged to the light fixture originally. We had created a beautiful, expensive-looking chandelier without having to spend the money for a freshly bought one. So if you’re ever out and find a chandelier without its crystals – do not be discouraged. Crystals are easily purchased separately and can be found online or you may even find a whole bag of them at a resale shop. And due to the fact that they are bought separately, they are both typically priced lower; if only those pesky shop-owners knew how resourceful you were planning to be! My favorite thing to do with vintage chandeliers is to update them by adding color, whether that means painting the fixture itself a different, bright color – which, if you ever plan to do, will require a lot of patience and a small wedge brush to get into its intricate nooks – or adding colorful crystals to it. For my daughter’s bedroom, I painted a smallish chandelier a high-gloss black and then added pale and hot pink crystals to it. My daughter and her friends love it, and it fits perfectly with the punk rock princess theme of her bedroom.
There really are so many options for you to find a chandelier that is inexpensive and even give it its own new personality!