Jul 012014

One of the most popular lighting trends of the past decade has been the use of vintage-looking light bulbs, often referred to as antique or “edison” light bulbs. These are the light bulbs that generally have little light output, so you can look directly at them without blinding yourself. These decorative light bulbs have been used often in restaurants, bars, and hotels, but they have also become popular for home use. Here are nine photos to inspire you as you think of ways you could use antique light bulbs to enhance the lighting design in your space.

1. Totally Tubular

Tubular Envelopes 1024x560 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via etsy.com

Antique or edison light bulbs generally come in a few different shapes. One popular shape is the tubular light bulb, and the DIY fixture above is a great use for the tubular light bulb shape. Tubular antique light bulbs really show off their filaments, and the glowing filaments are the star of the show!

2. Also Pretty Tubular!

Brass Fixture 1024x682 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via modernhaus.blogspot.com

Because the antique light bulbs themselves are so attractive, you see a lot of fixtures that create interestingly shaped clusters of light bulbs. This brass fixture is especially attractive even during the day. Imagine what it would look like with the low glow of those tubular light bulbs!

3. Candelabra Based

Candelabra Edison Bulb 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via edisonlightglobes.com

Candelabra based antique light bulbs are very popular and are great for use in chandeliers, pendants, and other fixtures that use this smaller kind of light bulb. I didn’t want you to think that antique light bulbs only came in medium-based varieties. No, you can create a vintage lighting look with your fixtures that use candelabra based light bulbs, too.

4. Blowing the Dust Off an Old Look

Light Fan 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via dollypythonvintage.com

A popular, if unexpected, DIY application of antique light bulbs is what I’m calling the “vintage fan lamp.” You can find a lot of these on Etsy or make one yourself. I like this particular project because it demonstrates the contagiousness of the vintage look. You have these light bulbs, and, oh, there’s a vintage fan. Why not put them together! You can get very creative with edison light bulbs and end up with cool things like this!

5. Globular Globes of Glass-Encased Glowing Gleamers

Old Fashioned Lighting 1024x682 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via oldfashionedlighting.com

Another popular shape for edison light bulbs is the globe. This envelope shape is more spherical and looks great alone, but when grouped together as in the above photo, you can see the reflection of the glowing filaments in all the globes of glass, and this is a pretty neat effect. Such a warm look.

6. The Industrial Look

pipe fixtures 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via etsy.com

These ceiling fixtures made from pipe give an industrial feel to the spaces they illuminate. This is a popular application for edison light bulbs, as it plays off two strengths – the light bulb’s ability to look great alone and its industrial feel. Well played, light fixture designers. Well played, indeed.

7. Antique Cages

Vintage Cages 668x1024 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

found on etsy.com

Some people like to use antique light bulbs in new fixtures that look old, and some people like to use antique light bulbs in old fixtures that look new. In this case, very old cages have been restored to use in a new light fixture. This represents what edison bulbs are all about, holding onto the beautiful things of the past. In this age of integrated LEDs and the dawning of things like OLED film, these antique light bulbs in 100 year old cages balances things out a little.

8. Crystal Addition

Crystals 1024x1017 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via etsy.com

This homemade light fixture features quartz crystals hanging down amongst the edison bulbs. This is pretty neat. The crystals are the perfect things to arrest the warm glow emanating from the antique light bulbs. What a creative idea.

9. Wall Sconce

Tubular Sconce 9 Inspiring Photos of Antique Light Bulbs

via edisonlightglobes.com

Even the wall sconce benefits from the addition of the antique light bulb. You could use any shape of edison bulb here and get a neat effect. As you can see from all of these inspiring photos, the purpose of the light fixture is to show off the antique light bulb itself. It creates a look that can be vintage, industrial, minimalist, or all three at once. I can imagine a couple wall sconces like this running down the hallway of my apartment.

Where would you put antique light bulbs?


Tom SowdersAfter majoring in creative writing at NC State, I worked in the home remodeling industry. Then, I attended graduate school for a really long time and gained experience as a writer and writing instructor. I live in the Raleigh-Durham area with my wife and baby boy, and you can find me around the Triangle anywhere there's good music and/or NC-style BBQ.

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