7 vintage lighting ideas to add character to your home

These vintage lighting ideas are an instant way to add character and unique appeal to your home

Vintage lighting ideas
(Image credit: Cathy Nordström/Lauren Gilberthorpe Interiors/Joshua Smith Inc & Tim Lenz)

When it comes to adding character to your home, vintage lighting ideas have it all. Introducing a unique design element, offering an abundance of personality, and often a more sustainable option, it's no surprise interior designers are gravitating towards these pre-loved fixtures.

Decorating with vintage has become a popular way to create transitional interiors that embrace a mix of old and new, and lighting is no exception. While there are plenty of lighting ideas to inspire your scheme, something vintage can add a unique feature.

If you're not sure where to start or simply need some inspiration, we've asked interior designers for their favorite vintage lighting ideas to fill your home with character and personality.

7 vintage lighting ideas for a characterful scheme

There's no denying that vintage fixtures can add a lot of personality to your home, which is a big reason designers love them. 'We have a deep appreciation for vintage lighting, as it brings a wealth of history and character to any space,' says Kailee Blalock and Taylor Troia, co-founders at House of Hive Design Co.

From sconces and wall lights to grand chandeliers, there are plenty of vintage lighting ideas to consider. So, whatever the style or size of your home, there's an idea here to suit. And if you're wondering should you buy vintage lighting, the answer is yes, absolutely!

1. Introduce vintage lamps

Vintage lamp displayed on a vintage trunk in a living room

(Image credit: Lauren Gilberthorpe Interiors)

Vintage lamps are a wonderful starting point if you want to introduce vintage fixtures to your home. Usually less complicated to rewire and more flexible to fit in your space, they add style and ambiance to a scheme.

'Lamps are a very easy way to introduce vintage lighting into your home. A room can never have too many lamps for soft, ambient lighting. They are also relatively easy and economical to rewire, so they are a good starting point for newer collectors,' says Jessica Lev, of Jessica Lev Antiques.

Vintage lamps are one of the more customizable options, which makes them all the more appealing. 'Remember that if you love the base of a lamp, the lampshade can always be replaced,' says Kailee and Taylor. Either stick to something vintage or add contrast with a more contemporary lampshade.

2. Add drama with a vintage chandelier

french country dining room with vintage pieces and a neutral color palette

(Image credit: The Refined Group)

A beautiful vintage chandelier is a great way to create a focal point in the room. The right statement piece perfectly balances drama, elegance, and unique appeal. Moreover, a vintage light will look just as at home in a contemporary space as somewhere more traditional.

'Introducing a statement vintage chandelier above the main seating area can instantly elevate the room's ambiance. For example, a mid-century modern brass chandelier could complement contemporary furniture while adding a touch of timeless elegance,' suggests interior designer Lauren Gilberthorpe.

The design of this dining room has been really elevated by the addition of a vintage chandelier. Suspended above the center of the dining table, it instantly makes the room feel larger while tying together the more decorative elements in the space.

3. Use vintage wall lights as decor

make your home feel like a sanctuary, classic entryway with symmetry, tiled floor, cream walls, mahogany console, matching chairs each side, mirror, wall lights

(Image credit: Joshua Smith Inc / Tim Lenz)

A big part of the appeal of vintage lighting is its beautiful designs – from shape and form to color and pattern, there's plenty to be admired. As such, using sconces and wall lights as decor can create an inspiring scheme, marrying beauty and function.

'Old wall lights and pendants are pretty and make lovely features or statements. Pretty wall lights can mean you don’t need pictures to adorn the walls,' says Jane Lanyon, of JH Designs.

This is a great alternative to artwork or gallery walls if you prefer a simpler display or don't have the space for more complex wall decor. It can also help to balance a space by introducing a sense of symmetry, like in this entryway.

4. Pair vintage lighting with contemporary pieces

wallpapered vintage bedroom with rattan mirror

(Image credit: Cathy Nordström)

Transitional decorating ideas are some of those most sought after in recent interior design trends, and vintage lighting is an effective way to introduce an element of old amongst newer pieces.

'In a bedroom, vintage bedside table lamps with intricate detailing can create a cozy, warm atmosphere. Pairing these with modern elements can create a beautiful contrast, blending old and new seamlessly, which we always try to do,' explains Lauren.

A vintage table lamp looks beautiful sat on a contemporary side table, or creating a mix of decor items ranging in age is a great way to curate a visually appealing display. If you opt for the latter, remember to follow the rule of three.

5. Add vintage pendant lights in tall rooms

Hallway with vintage ceiling lights

(Image credit: Lauren Gilberthorpe Interiors)

Pendant lights are popular in rooms with tall ceilings like kitchens and hallways, especially above a kitchen island or dining table. But often contemporary designs can feel rather similar, so introducing a vintage alternative is a fun way to inject more personality.

'In a kitchen, vintage industrial pendant lights above an island can provide both functionality and a rustic charm. Each piece not only serves a purpose but also tells a story, adding depth and personality to your home,' says Lauren

Vintage pendant lights also add an eye-catching feature in a hallway, instantly drawing the eye upwards and taking advantage of the vertical space.

6. Illuminate a work space with vintage lighting

Vintage lamp in a home office

(Image credit: Imparfait Design Studio/Michael Kaskel)

Vintage lighting ideas are not limited to chandeliers and table lamps in your most social rooms. Practical spaces, such as a home office, kitchen, or utility, can really benefit from a vintage fixture. Not only will it add additional light, but will add a stylish addition to the scheme.

'We use little crystal lamps on bars and coffee centers in kitchens, vintage table lamps throughout a home (often with new shades), and lots of vintage pendants and chandeliers in dining rooms and powder rooms,' says Rebekah Zaveloff, co-founder and creative director of Imparfait Design Studio.

In this home office, a vintage lamp has been added on top of the desk, adding a striking ornate detail in an otherwise understated scheme. The green color of the lampshade ties in beautifully with the decorative design of the desk, while the dark wood and gold base look right at home placed below the framed artwork.

7. Use a vintage light as the starting point for the room's design

Vintage chandelier ia dining room

(Image credit: Imparfait Design Studio/Michael Kaskel)

Buying vintage lighting often takes a lot of time and consideration, so once you've found the perfect fixtures, why not make them the base of the whole room's design?

'My favorite part about vintage lighting is how unique it is – often you won't see it anywhere else. When possible, incorporate as many one-of-a-kind pieces into your space for maximum personality and character,' suggests Rebekah.

If you choose a statement pendant or chandelier, like in this dining room, pick out the main colors to create your palette for the whole scheme. This will tie in your vintage lighting beautifully without taking a way from its unique character.

There are so many ways to introduce vintage lighting ideas to your home, whether you need to light up a whole room or add a touch of ambiance in a small space. So, whether you add a rustic table lamp in a living room or industrial lanterns in a hallway, you can't go wrong with vintage lighting.

Kitchens & Bathrooms Editor

I joined the Homes & Gardens interiors team at the start of 2024 as the kitchens & bathrooms editor. My undergraduate degree was in Magazine Journalism and Production, which I studied at the University of Gloucestershire. Before joining Homes & Gardens, I worked for two interiors titles across both print and digital channels, writing about a range of topics from room design ideas and decorating trends to timeless kitchen schemes and the best places to source pre-loved homeware.