Christie’s specialist Richard Nelson offers seven tips on finding the right piece, whether your taste is for 18-century opulence, Art Deco or contemporary style
1. Combine vintage with cutting-edge contemporary
An English gilt-bronze and glass hall lantern. Late 19th century. Sold for $8,125 in the Interiors sale on 25 & 26 August 2015 at Christie’s in New York
This is a great example of an English gilt metal and glass hexagonal-form hall lantern, very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. There’s been a surge of interest in pieces such as these, which not only look great in the entrance to a home, but also make elegant additions to a dining room. Although the design is 18th century, it’s a piece that looks great both with traditional furniture and cutting-edge contemporary design.
2. Look to handmade pieces for something unique
A Venetian polychrome glass six-light chandelier. 20th century. Sold for $7,500 in the Interiors sale on 25 & 26 August 2015 at Christie’s in New York
This 20th-century six-light chandelier is from the estate of legendary New York lighting dealer Marvin Alexander. Made entirely by hand, the chandelier is completely unique, its elegant arms reminiscent of a living vine. Featuring clear and polychrome — or multi-coloured — glass, it’s a light that looks almost as though it’s been made of pulled candy, and would have been right at home in an 18th-century Venetian palazzo.
3. Consider a contemporary update of a timeless classic
A pair of gilt-metal one-light square wall lights. Modern. Sold for $1,500 in the Interiors sale on 25 & 26 August 2015 at Christie’s in New York
Although this pair of gilt-metal square wall lights are modern, they follow a design that would have been familiar to someone who was alive 200 years ago, closely resembling lights that might have been used on the outside of a carriage, or at the entrance to an 18th-century house. At once classic and contemporary, they would be an excellent addition to a bathroom or hallway, the polished brass back plate reflecting light as a warm glow.
4. Use big chandeliers to make a statement
An English brass eight-light chandelier. 20th century. Sold for $1,250 in the Interiors sale on 25 & 26 August 2015 at Christie’s in New York
At over a metre wide, this English brass eight-light chandelier originally served as the imposing centrepiece for a palatial apartment on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Made in the 20th century, it’s a piece that evokes the grandeur and elegance of the 17th-century English country house, combining classic style with full electrical fittings. Beautifully proportioned and minimally adorned, this chandelier would be as at home in a panelled library as a modern dining room. It’s an incredible addition to an interior — as big and gutsy as a piece of statement sculpture.
5. Glistening light can give an instant injection of glamour
An Art Deco style glass pendant style chandelier. 20th century. Sold for $875 in the Interiors sale on 25 & 26 August 2015 at Christie’s in New York
You can easily imagine this Art Deco beaded glass chandelier being on the set of a glamorous movie set in the 20s. It’s a piece that exudes a sleek elegance — and is so ornate that it’s almost like a piece of jewellery for a room. Lit from within, the cut-glass beads glisten along the silver frame. Elegant and sophisticated, it would be lovely in a bedroom or bijou dining room.
6. Heavy materials can be delicate
An oval iron fretwork six-light chandelier. Late 19th/early 20th century. Sold for $1,375 in the Interiors sale on 25 & 26 August 2015 at Christie’s in New York
Unlike most wrought-iron chandeliers, this one is intricately crafted in an unusually delicate, lace-like design. The spectacular piece was probably originally made for a dining room, but would also look great hanging in a kitchen, among the pots and pans. It’s such a statement piece; you’re never going to see another one exactly like it.
7. Use candles for an authentic 18th-century glow
A Regency-style giltwood six-light chandelier. 20th century. Sold for $1,625 in the Interiors sale on 25 & 26 August 2015 at Christie’s in New York
Often, people will buy electric chandeliers and remount them with candles, producing a romantic light that would be ideal as a dining room centrepiece. Fully electric, this Regency-style gilt wood and metal six-light chandelier would be very beautiful with small shades or more traditional candles — a fitting addition to a piece based on Italian examples dating from the late 18th century.
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