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How Do I Choose the Best Nouveau Chandelier?

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  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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In order to choose an art nouveau chandelier light fixture, you need to consider your practical and aesthetic needs. There are many different styles which can be characterized as art nouveau, some formal and some casual, but the number of bulbs and the wattage will affect the functionality of the fixture. Your budget is also a determining factor in deciding whether you want an authentic antique art nouveau chandelier or simply a reproduction.

First, decide on the size of the chandelier you need for your space. For dining rooms, the chandelier should be no larger than half the length of the dining room table and about 12 inches (30 cm) more narrow. For foyers, the chandelier should be 17 to 20 inches (43 to 50 cm) in diameter for a room of 100 square feet (9.3 sq m), up to 27 inches (68 cm) in diameter for 144 square feet (13.4 sq m), and 36 inches (91 cm) or larger for 200 square feet (18 sq m) or more. The chandelier should hang at least seven feet (2.2 m) off the ground.

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Antique art nouveau chandeliers can be very expensive. Elaborate crystal chandeliers are especially collectible but may cost thousands of dollars. Reproductions, on the other hand, can be made from clear plastic that simulates the look of crystal at a much lower cost. Unless you are a collector or renovating an historic home to its original specifications, reproduction art nouveau chandeliers can be a more budget friendly choice as well as easier to maintain and install since their wiring and bulb sockets are standard.

If you want an authentic art nouveau chandelier, be sure to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of the design before shopping. The art nouveau movement began around 1890 and lasted until about 1914. At that point, it was replaced by the art deco movement. One of the guiding principles of art nouveau was to incorporate high levels of craftsmanship and artistic skill into everyday, functional objects, especially interior decor. Common visual attributes of the style were swirling vines and leaves, flowing hair, and organic, rather than geometric, shapes.

Whether you choose an authentic art nouveau chandelier or a reproduction, consider the number of bulbs the fixture requires and maximum wattage when you start shopping. Total wattage for chandeliers should typically be between 200 and 400 watts. This allows ample light for the space. A dimmer switch, which can be installed in place of a traditional light switch, allows you to adjust the brightness of the light without changing the wattage of the bulbs.

If you are shopping for a new art nouveau chandelier, begin by searching online. Physical dimensions and wattage are typically listed in the item description, making comparisons easy. If possible, find a local store that carries the chandelier of your choice and see it in person before you buy. If you must order it, make sure the company accepts returns, allows at least 30 days for returning an item, and guarantees and insures the item against damage in shipping. You may also be able to find a company that offers free shipping both ways.

You can find antique art nouveau chandeliers in shops and online stores alike. Be open to different styles since most antique items are unique. Look at a number of images of the chandelier before buying online. Requesting more images from the seller if necessary. Ask for specific dimensions, number and type of bulbs used, and identification of any damage or missing pieces. Regular antique dealers may accept returns or exchanges, but many private sellers will not.

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