Monday, September 5, 2011

Obsession: Vintage French Empire Chandeliers

I'm going public by admitting here my obsession with vintage chandeliers, specifically those in the French empire style.  LOVE them!  ADORE them!  WANT one! 

 Isn't she lovely?  Image credit

Only three problems: (1) finding one in good condition, (2) finding one in the color family I desire (aquas, of course), and (3) price.  Of course, it is to be expected that (3) increases exponentially the more that (1) and (2) apply.   I've found some lovely vintage/antique chandeliers in this style from time to time on eBay, but the good ones run into the high hundreds to thousands of dollars.  I even took a trip to Bountiful -- no, not Bountiful, Utah! the antique store in next-door-to-me Venice (California) -- and was astounded to find an empire style chandelier in moderate condition that was marked at $6,000!  (BTW, is that store even open any longer?  I don't know how they could stay open in this economy!  When I visited one Sunday afternoon, there was no one besides me and two staff people in the store.  Their prices are OUTRAGEOUS, but then again I guess it is the elite, not "real" people like me, that shop there ...)

But I digress.  

I also really love the look of an antique chandelier hung inside a vintage birdcage stand.  It is such a sweet, shabby-chic look, and also one that is very functional for those of us who are renting and either cannot, or do not want to, hang a chandelier from the ceiling.  Using a birdcage stand also lets you position the chandelier exactly where you want it.

Gorgeous, yes?  Image from Marcy at Antique Chase blog.

So, in order to obtain this look, I have so far purchased three (yes, THREE) vintage birdcage stands!  These things can also get very pricey, but I managed to accumulate three of them off eBay, and the only reason I even bought any of them is because they were relatively inexpensive, all things considered, even with shipping included.  

But I still don't have a chandelier to hang inside any of the three birdcage stands.

Ok, alright, that's an outright lie.  I actually DO have two crystal chandeliers, both of which are quite lovely.  One of them I paid quite a bit of money for off eBay several years ago, but it is still packed away in its shipping box and I cannot even remember what it looks like, other than the metal has a goldish/brass finish and it is roundish in shape with a spray of raining crystals at the top.  In fact, I'm not even sure where I put the thing!

The other was given to me by a friend, in addition to a very cute shabby chic drop leaf dining table his mom actually went dumpster diving for (a lady after my own heart!), in exchange for my slip covering a sofa for him (trust me, he got the better end of that deal!). I could see the potential in this pretty fixture he was going to give to Goodwill.  It had a brass finish that was not to my taste, but otherwise it was quite pretty with its leafy detail.  Interestingly, I later learned that this style chandelier is called a "birdcage" chandelier, and I managed to Google it and find an image that is of my exact chandelier:

Image credit

I disassembled the thing and painted the metal part an heirloom white color, and am considering distressing it rather heavily to show some of the brass finish.  Because I am the world's worst procrastinator, it is currently shoved inside an extra large plastic storage bin, completely unfinished (I sure as heck hope I haven't misplaced any of the crystals!).  I need to get an electrician to cut the cord and hanging chain WAY down (they are currently something like 25 feet in length!) and add a plug to the end and an in-line switch to turn the thing on and off.  

All that said, the problem with THIS particular chandelier is that it is quite large -- 23 inches in length, not including the crystals at the bottom, and not one of my three (yes, THREE) birdcage stands is large enough to hold it.  Also, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want a French empire style chandelier!

Because my favorite color is aqua/turquoise, I've been coveting a chandelier like this one (LOVE the "beach glass" look of this one!):
Image credit
or this one:

Image credit

or even this one (which is lovely, but admittedly my least favorite of the three):

Image credit

All of these chandeliers are too big, so none of them would fit in any one of my three (yes, THREE) birdcage stands, not to mention that they are all prohibitively expensive (like in the thousands of dollars).  I suppose if I had a posh beach house, I'd also have the wherewithal to purchase one of these fixtures for it, and you bet I would be placing an order for one of them!  However, I'm just a girl renting an apartment in West LA, so something different is in order.

Stay tuned to see what I have up my sleeve.  I have a rather large project ahead of me in my quest for an aqua empire style chandelier, and hopefully my procrastination will take a back seat and let me get started on it!


AntiqueChase said...

Hi Kimberly!!
Thank you so much for your email and finding me! I am happy that you were inspired by my birdcage stand and chandelier.... Thank you for the link back!! I am now YOUR newest follower!! Marcy :)

Miss Charming said...

Your chandeliers sound lovely. I'm sure they will look beautiful in your home once you are finished with them. (I finally hung up my two vintage chandeliers recently and am so glad I did.)

Karen said...

I love chandeliers too and am really fond of the turquoise crystals. Your chandeliers sound beautiful, I'm sure the spirit will strike and you'll get it all done. Thanks for visiting and the wonderful comments.

Amy @MaisonDecor said...

I love old chandeliers too, and recently posted on a readers blue opalescent vintage chandelier (at the end of the post)..well she is kindly sending me extra drops and beads from vintage sconces and I will be in heaven putting them on my living room chandy soon! So I share you lust for these pretty pretty babies. You can see her chandy and another vintage blue chandy belonging to a friend of mine here:

special 'k' said...

I wish you well on your hunt, but thanks for sharing these beautiful pics. I will follow on my way out so I know my way to your beautiful abode, i hope you will find the time to come visit me soon and do the same. Whilst I am here I would like to wish a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to engaging more in 2012. Take care. Cheers SpecialK XoXo

Cindy said...

Oh my gosh, i LOVE the second chandy... it's gorgeous! I'll be curious to see what you have up your sleeve!


Ivy and Elephants said...

I am a chandy lover, too. I think it's a hoot that you have three birdcage stands (I do, too!). I really enjoyed the post and hope that you find your perfect chandelier!
New follower,

Bohemian said...

I have a Chandie obsession, I have them everywhere and when I ran out of ceiling space, I just lay them around the house! The Family may feel the need to explain that I'm not totally Crazy when folks wonder why there is ambiant lighting just sitting around on floors, in chairs, on cubboards etc... *winks*

Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

Bohemian said...

You're cracking me up! *LOL* I did purchase a French Empire Chandie many, many years ago... even tho' I knew it was for a Ballroom in a Mansion and my Ceilings would be way too low in this ole' house to properly hang it... but the Price was Insanely low so I 'Scored' it and now it's in our Library Room and hangs to low everyone has to duck to go under it! *LOL* Whatever... I HAD to have one and buying a New Home for it just seemed ludicrous you know? *Winks* I Hope that one day you are able to 'Score' yours... just put the Laws of Attraction in your Favor by Thinking upon it constantly. Blessing from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

The Polka Dot Closet said...

I see you have not blogged for a while, but wanted to pop over and thank you for your very kind comments on my kitchen redo!