Recently, Ron re-wired all the lights on the third floor, changing out the knob-and-tube old stuff. He put in some lights where there had been none. (Victorian houses were really dark; they used limited lighting.) So I took this work as an excuse to get more lights.
Ron and I are crazy about lights. I might be a bit crazier than he is. I ended up getting five new lights for the house. When people come to visit, they think we’ve spent a lot of money on these lights but we really haven’t. That’s what I want to talk about: how to make the most of the lights you can find at salvage warehouses and even at online auctions.
The first thing to keep in mind is kind of obvious: if you buy a light that needs NO work, then you are going to pay top dollar. We almost always buy lights that are incomplete in one way or another. They’re a lot cheaper that way. If you love old lights, you owe it to yourself to learn how to re-wire them. It’s not hard. And we have a video on this for a floor lamp: How to Wire an Old Floor Lamp (We’ll make one for table lamps eventually.)
Over the years we have collected all kinds of lamp parts and pieces, including lots of chain. You can pick this stuff up pretty cheaply at flea markets and garage sales. It’s not hard to repair a lamp if you have the right piece. You can find these things on eBay too. Here’s a really cool chandelier (below) that needed a) a bell or cup for mounting (hides the ceiling hole), b) cups to hold the shades, and c) the shades themselves. Most people don’t want to deal with a light that’s missing so many pieces. But it really wasn’t hard to put together. I had fun hunting down the several pieces. It turned out great!
How much work you want to do is up to you. If you don’t want a lot of hassle, consider getting an old light fixture that has no shades. That will save you a good deal of money. And you don’t have to have any mechanical ability to put shades on a light! And maybe you’ll have lots of fun, the way I have, looking for just the right kind of beautiful glass to make your house a special place!.