Decorative Lamps For Interior Design Antique Lamps

I must first admit to being a photophobic, a term defined as “an intense aversion to strong light”. On entering a brightly lit room, I find myself subconsciously groping for the dimmer switch! Bright light is good – in an operating room, an airport or film shoot! but, definitely not in a comfortable room. In fact, a room ceases to be comfortable when lit like a night time tennis tournament!

A successful interior project must have successful lighting, lighting being an integral component. One can have the finest of everything; stunning interior design, fabrics and furniture, but in the end, an interior lives or dies by lighting.

Decorative lighting, as the name suggests, is principally seen as a class of decorative art with the secondary benefit of providing light. If intensive, bright light is required, then decorative lighting will not be effective.

When an antique lamp is being considered, it can be thought of in similar terms to decorating a room with a painting, antique rug, or antique furniture. Firstly, to classify a lamp as antique, the lamp must be a minimum of 100 years old, as this is the age requirement for an antique to be an antique.

If a decorative theme is required, lamps can be selected to compliment a specific interior such as Chinese, or a more eclectic Oriental theme, an English country look, or a formal classic style, in fact, the style of lamp chosen can really match any period of design required.

Table lamps fall into one of two categories:-

The first would classify as accent lamps, which usually have an overall height of no more than 15″ / 38cm when fitted with a lamp shade. As the name suggests, the accent lamp is meant to accentuate a particular object, or, to draw attention to a specific area. This may be a mantelpiece, bookshelf or small side table in an entrance hall or perhaps amongst a group of photo frames or collection of small objects. The careful placement of accent lighting will add a further dimension to the feel & comfort of a room.

The second category being the standard table lamp, usually measured to a total height of up to 35″ / 89cm.


Illustrated is a fine pair of “Purely Decorative” antique accent lamps -: These lamps can be seen on The Antique and Vintage Table Lamp Co.’s web site.

A delightful pair of mid 19th century, decorative accent lamps as well modelled, Chinese, Sancai figures of two of the Taoist immortals. These spiritual beings, central to religious Taoism number eight in total and perhaps are intended to be allegorical.

These super-humans or perfect persons came to be worshipped and emulated by Taoists. The Eight Immortals frequently appear in Chinese literature, mythology and art; each carries a symbol, or attribute, and is imbued with a special power.

These perfect eight, dwell far away in an untroubled place, (the isle of the blessed),

where they experience an effortless existence of physical freedom. They are ageless, eat nothing but air, drink nothing but dew, and enjoy the power of flight. They truly exemplify the Taoist virtue of spontaneity and spiritual transcendence.

The male figure illustrated is “Lan Caihe”, who carries his attribute, a basket of flowers. The female figure is a young girl, “He Xiangu”, – the last of the Immortals, She carries with her, her attribute, a magical Lotus flower.

Both immortals dressed in Ming dynasty tunic robes and glazed in the Chinese three-colour combination of manganese, yellow and green, known as “Sancai”.

The immortals shown skimming across the surface of the ocean on their journey to the isle of the blessed,

The two immortals standing on custom made, gilt wood, square shaped, Chinese table stands.

Each lamp fitted with a custom made, rich butter yellow silk, square lamp shade, piped in Spring Grass green silk. Both figures are in original condition.

Circa 1850 Overall height (including shades) 18″ / 46cm

The lamp base, however, is only half of the story. The partnering of the right lamp shade is essential in producing the desired effect. Once selected it should bring the look together by a thoughtful combination of style, size, shape, colour, appropriate fabric and passementerie. Both lamp and shade should be chosen to compliment the existing, or planned interior.

Decorative lamps are purely decorative. They are meant to be decorative, not a principal source of interior lighting. Lamps of this type can also be divided by gender!

Everyone is familiar with the concept of decorative objects considered as feminine or masculine. There are, of course, no fixed rules; however, general observations can be made.

Typically, feminine will be seen as pretty, i.e., flowers, song birds, cupids etc. and whilst this is a sweeping statement, it will serve to separate masculine as being, robust, handsome, sculptured, i.e. architectural elements, horses etc.

Traditional attitudes have generally placed interior design in the feminine compartment, but attitudes change and men are now widely accepted as partners in sharing an interest in interior design and decoration.

From a purely male perspective, men will see table lamps as a subject that allows for creative expression. Lamps for the den, for the office, for a library, or simply to add to the pleasure derived from their living space.

Finally, antique decorative lighting is not “novelty lighting” which is another subject altogether! In point of fact, I very recently saw a table lamp as a figure of the Virgin Mary, which, when the lamp was switched on, the Virgins hallo lit up and the lamp base played a tinkly little version of the Ave Maria!

There is a generally acceptable level of comfortable interior lighting, which, of course, will swing wildly from person to person, (except, of course for the photophobic)! From a psychological point of view, interior lighting is a major contributor to well being. Soft interior lighting is sensed as an atmosphere that is calming and relaxing – combined with a favourite chair and a good magazine, it’s positively therapeutic!

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The lamps described can be seen on The Antique and Vintage Table Lamp Co.’s web site -: The Antique and Vintage Table Lamp Co specialise in antique lamps with an exclusive on-line range of over 100 unique lamps. Custom made silk lamp shades can be ordered. Lamps are shipped ready wired to the US, the UK and Australia. For further information you are invited to visit their web site at -: © The Antique and Vintage Table Lamp Co 2011 Author: Maurice Robertson