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The History of Vintage Lighting Styles

The History of Vintage Lighting Styles

When shopping for lighting online, it is easy to feel lost between phrases and buzzwords such as French provincial, mid-century, minimalism, and art deco. But worry not, we have got your back.

In this post, we explain these styles in their historical context, in addition to outlining design and material considerations for incorporating vintage lighting into your home.

French Provincial (17th to 18th Century)

Vintage lighting refers to lighting fixtures that are inspired by or reminiscent of the classic French provincial style. This style originated in 17th and 18th century France with the aim to make regal furniture more accessible and affordable for wealthy families in smaller cities and rural areas. While provincial furniture was not highly valued at that time, it has experienced resurgence in popularity in recent years, particularly as it complements the modern farmhouse trend.

Vintage style lighting can add a touch of elegance and nostalgia to any space. You might be wondering: Which materials are most suited for instilling French provincial style into a home?

We recommend you consider materials like walnut, beech wood, oak, and cherry. For lighting styles, cage lighting or lantern is the obvious choice, but you can also consider rustic linen shades. Generally speaking, any piece that has intricate detail is a good option as long as it doesn’t have an extravagant look. Remember that when it comes to French provincial style, conservative ornamentation is the name of the game.

Art Deco (1920 to 1930s)

Art Deco was quite a rage in 1920s and 30s. Unlike previous styles, it considered lighting not only for its utilitarian and practical function but also its form. This period marked a noticeable shift toward materials that are more accessible, like chrome, aluminum, painted materials, and plastic. Art Deco leaned toward using directional light and clean lines. White glass globes, typically suspended by yellow gold gooseneck arm were quite a hit during the Art Deco period.

So, what are the best materials for vintage art deco lamps? If you want to give your home a nice art deco twist, consider materials like brass, other metalware, and glass.  

Minimalism (Late 1910s to Present)

Minimalism movement started during the fag end of the first decade of the 20th century. Its underlying principle is less is more and focuses on timeless, pared back, and simple design. Given these attributes, it’s no surprise that even today many people just love this style.

The minimalist style relies on the usage of materials like steel, concrete and glass. Instead of saturated and overcomplicated lighting, the focus is on making use of natural light sources. This pared down design is the backbone of the modern “tiny” homes. The best part of this style is that you can interpret it any way. But if you would rather use traditional minimalism, you cannot go wrong with vintage lamps 1920s lookalikes.

Mid-century Modern (Mid-1930s to 1965)

Even though there’s the term “mid-century” in the name, this style actually came into being in mid-1930s, not around 1950. All the same, the mid-century modern design has been hailed as a very significant development of the last century. The two most telling contributors during this period were Brasil and Denmark. Because of the Denmark’s heavy contribution, this style noticeably overlaps often with Scandinavian style. For homeowners thinking about incorporating both these styles, this is a crucial fact, since the mid-century modern and Scandinavian styles gel very well together.

Mid-century modern style laid emphasis on both form and function. As such, the following characteristics were at the forefront: geometric, sleek lines, minimalist ornamentation, and seamless juxtaposition of materials and tones that contrast each other. As far as construction materials were concerned, there was a lot of diversity. Along with glass and woods, materials like plastics were frequently used for their unique qualities in vintage mid-century lighting.


Despite its name, vintage lighting is still very popular. Many people prefer using it, albeit with the newest technology. Classic style is timeless and when combined with LED illumination you get to enjoy the very best of vintage lighting. Whether you are interested in vintage mid-century floor lamps or vintage 1950s lighting, always use LED light bulbs, as they are more durable and energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs.