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Contemporary & Traditional Lighting - Guide to Choosing Lighting For Your Home


The history of chandeliers

The roots of the modern chandelier can be traced as far back as 1460. With no electricity to illuminate them, these simple lighting arrangements were created using just wood and wax. A cross was formed from two pieces of wood with spikes at either end. Candles would then be placed on the spikes and lit and the whole arrangement would be hoisted from its central point, using a rope or chain, which was fed through a hook in the ceiling.

This cross or “candlebeam” formation was then elaborated upon to include three and four pairs of candles and from that point on, designers took it upon themselves to create the most elaborate forms possible. Turning the wood, they found new and ingenious ways to work in as many lighting platforms as possible.

Over the centuries, hooks gave way to pulleys, wood gave way to metal and glass and wax changed first to gas and then to electricity. However despite the evolution of the materials, the basic chandelier design remained a constant. Arms extending from a central point would support a base upon which a light was placed or from which a light would hang.

Modern chandeliers for the home

For a long time, chandeliers were the preserve of the rich and prosperous and regarded by many as status symbols. Nowadays however, chandeliers are available across all price ranges. They are made from many different materials including wood, glass, crystal, brass, nickel and wrought iron and come in a wide range of styles and colours. From the traditional to the contemporary, they are as popular now, as they have ever been and add a stylish, chic focal point to hallways, dining rooms and living rooms.

Traditional chandeliers

The traditional chandelier will conform to a certain shape and style. Typically the traditional chandelier will hang from the ceiling via one central stem and then branch off from a single point along that stem, in many different directions. Each branch will be curved upwards and support a usually candle shaped bulb. Traditional chandeliers tend to be constructed of metals such as brass, cast iron, copper or steel.

Contemporary chandeliers

Contemporary chandeliers, as the name may suggest are a little more modern. They do not have to conform to preconceived ideas of shape or size and so are given free rein to adopt their own style. For example the contemporary chandelier may be more angular than curved and constructed of a more unusual material.

Crystal chandeliers

Crystal chandeliers are instantly recognisable. Crystal glass teardrops are strung from a usually metal skeleton allowing the many facets of the cut crystal glass to catch the light at different angles. When caught by sunlight, this results in the light casting a sparkling prism effect light which displays all the colours of the rainbow.

Wrought Iron Chandeliers

Wrought iron is a wonderfully pliable material, which can be fashioned into every conceivable shape. It can create dramatic, gothic looking chandeliers, which instil a sense of strength and permanence. Their distinctive, almost medieval feel, works particularly well with solid wood furnishings.

Candle Chandeliers

Candle chandeliers used to mean exactly that, a chandelier that supported real wax candles, burning real flame. The risk of fire from this type of lighting arrangement was however, extremely high and for this reason they were deemed impractical and dangerous. Their style and presence though, could not be denied so an electrical version was produced. Widely sought after today these electric candle chandeliers come in many shapes and sizes evoking a sense of the dramatic and the romantic.

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