How to Rewire a Vintage Entry Lantern
Hung in a front entry or a cozy corner indoors, these pendant-style fixtures cast a soft ambient light that's both charming and inviting
When a friend asked for help finding a replacement for the modern flush-mount fixture that used to light the entry to her 1930s cottage (below), I set out in search of a vintage hanging lantern that would better complement her home's architecture. I picked up a mid-century painted steel lantern with amber glass panels in need of TLC for about $90 at newyorksalvage.net. Similar restored lanterns cost about $250. I then called the pros at Grand Brass Lamp Parts, one of the few remaining manufacturers of reproduction antique lighting parts, to order the wires, exterior-grade socket assembly, chain, and decorative ceiling canopy I needed to get the old lantern looking good and glowing again.
Fully Restored Vintage Hanging Lantern
Many hanging lanterns from the first half of the 20th century were humble by design, looking as if they'd been crafted by blacksmiths rather than machines.
Dangling from unadorned chains, their iron, bronze, or copper cages often had hammer marks, grillwork, even riveted seams reminiscent of those on medieval knights' armor. And fitted with earth-toned frosted- or textured-glass panels, their warm glow complemented the coziness of the Craftsman bungalows, Tudor cottages, and more modest Colonial Revival homes in which they were most frequently hung. Popularized by tastemakers of the time, such as Gustav Stickley and the Roycroft crafters, these rustic lanterns exemplified a back-to-basics design sensibility. They were the antithesis of late-19th-century Victorian chandeliers cast from gleaming brass, with highly ornamented outstretched arms.
Invite guests to "come on in" by putting back into service a vintage lantern like the amber glass one that I scored at a salvage yard (pictured). To keep costs down, search for a lantern that you can clean up and rewire yourself. It's an easy job once you get the parts.