Appropriate Kitchen and Dining Room Lighting for 1930's Colonial

sergeantcuffJanuary 15, 2009

I have some lighting questions concerning my 1930's center-hall colonial. The house is modest but well built, with living room on one side of the first floor and dining room and kitchen on the other.

We plan on having major work done on our old kitchen. I have been looking at vintage lighting fixtures but am unsure about what would be appropriate. I dislike recessed lights, but plan on some undercabinet lights. I'd like a central light fixture, and have looked at many flush-mounted "schoolhouse" fixtures but really would like something a little more interesting. (and I've seen them in so many magazines that I have grown sick of them). Ceiling is only 8 feet and room is only 10 x 12 and has 3 doorways and 2 windows. The hideous fan hangs down about 16". I have seen some pendant-style fixtures (the shade has 3 holes and is attached to the fixture by thin rods?). But they may be too fancy for a simple kitchen and many hang too low. When I see the schoolhouse pendants used, they are hung as a pair or more. Would one hanging about 14" look dumb all by itself?


On to the dining room! (currently stuffed with kitchen stuff, beg pardon). This light was hanging here when we moved in 10 years ago. I thought it was really strange, but then got used to it. The shades look pretty bad. I have an old photo from the 1930's of this room that shows no ceiling fixture, unless it was a flush mount, because giant candelabras were on the table. When do you think it was out in? Was it someone's idea of colonial? Is it horrible? I'm just not sure. The plaster medallion may not fit this house either? What type of fixture would you suggest?


Any thoughts? Thanks for reading.

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To get ideas and answers for my house, I use . They are great! You can search by era and style. Below is a link that will take you there.

Have fun!

Here is a link that might be useful: Period Lighting Collections

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 8:16PM
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I have studied their great site, also the Schoolhouse Electric site. Maybe I'm just confused, but many of their fixtures look very "Craftsman" to me, which my house definitely is not. Maybe I'm crazy, but much of their stuff looks very different from the type of fixtures I've seen in old, un-restored houses. I don't see the type of fixtures that filled the house I grew up in - the floral, porcelain, bare-socket fixtures (eBay has tons). Where are the frosted "cakes" that so often were stuck on the ceiling?

Also, some of the fixtures I've liked are very pricey. I think I'd prefer an old fixture from an antique shop or on eBay.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 8:57PM
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School house fixture for the kitchen which by the way I think is so cool as is...Dining room a candleabra type would look nice. Not too ornate.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 2:50PM
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We have a 30's colonial and we used the Arthur from rejuvenation for the kitchen. I have attached a link to our kitchen remodel. Not a great blog but there are some pictures.

since the remodel I have bought a few more rejuventation fixtures for the small hall and mudroom. we really like them

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Hey Maureeninmd,

Our farmhouse is about 1860 in the original portion and added onto sometime during the turn of the century. The floor plan is Georgian (very symmetrical) with Victorian details. We use these sites for lighting.

I know your house is from the 30's however people would've bought things that they liked that may have been older in style. Follow the original pictues and just google wedding cake chandeliers lots come up including very good reproductions. Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 4:41PM
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A surface mounted light fixture at the center of the ceiling will light the back of someone working in the kitchen and throw a shadow on the work surface. This is how the kitchen would have been illuminated in the 30's. We now know that for better comfort and efficiency such task areas should be illuminated more directly with stronger focused light from under the cabinets or recessed into the ceiling.

Modern recessed light fixtures can be 3" or 4" in diameter and deeply recessed or with shields so the lamp is not noticeable. They should be placed about at the line of the front edge of the counter and be adjustable or wall washers. They are particularly effective over the sink.

If you have an island, pendant lights are decorative and efficient but for a low ceiling, recessed Low-Voltage Pin-Spot fixtures work very well. A major decision will be if you want a ceiling fan.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 5:47PM
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By the time your house was built, a great many common electrical fixtures and appliances were Deco in style.

This Rejuvenation fixture would work in your kitchen:

Here's one from a late 30s or maybe early 40s era on Ebay (which makes it hard to show pics):

Your dining room could've had something like this:

if it's an early 30s house, or more like this:

Or a slip shade chandelier like this:

Or this:

Slip shade chandeliers are great but not inexpensive, unless you luck out on Ebay.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:12PM
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Thank you for adding more information to his thread. I started it three years ago, so I picked out fixtures a long time ago!

I bought my kitchen lights on ebay. The pendant has a floral design:


My dining room light (which looks a bit like Marcolo's first suggestion) was from a local antique lighting shop (now sadly closed)

We didn't think we could remove the medallion without causing damage. Maybe in the future.

Those deco / streamline fixtures are great. The ones I was finding at the time were too small. I do have a cool one that is original to the house in the bathroom (removed for polishing):

I love old lighting!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 3:46PM
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