The dining room originally had a push-button lightswitch with a brass cover plate. However, no corresponding fixture was to be found! After our real estate agent commented on how much she loved the switch, we gave it to her (switch and switchplate) as a closing gift, and it sits on her desk currently. Of course, I had to scrape all the WHITE PAINT off the beautiful antique brass before giving it to her!
However, the dining room remained the darkest room in the house, and we needed illumination. I found a stunning hand-blown glass and brass pendant fixture from the 1920s on Craigslist in a listing for an estate sale. The seller had listed it at $130, but the sale had already been completed by the time I’d seen the ad, so the estate sale company sold it to me (out of a storage unit in Pasadena) for only $70! We checked out the attic, and indeed the wiring for a fixture existed; it seems that at some point (probably when the house was flipped, like most of these quick fixes), the ceiling was patched over a perfectly good fixture. The wires in the wall were the old cloth-wrapped kind, but then again, most of the house is still wired in this manner.
We debated whether to purchase an antique switch from eBay or Etsy or to buy a contemporary reproduction. We ultimately decided on a reproduction for safety’s sake, even though it would be wired into the old system. After all, this place is all wood and would go up in flames in a heartbeat!
The reproduction we got was from House of Antique Hardware. Unfortunately, after only a month, one of the mother-of-pearl inlays that had been cheaply glued in just fell out. I called the company, and they sent me new inlays, but honestly, I was quite disappointed with the quality and lack of craftsmanship (particularly considering the era the company is trying to emulate). The company didn’t even offer me a refund, or send me a discount code for future purchases!
To retain as much authenticity as possible, though, I bought antique switchplate covers on Etsy (only $3 each). I chose the darker patinas that showed the most age. This seemed like a great compromise for safety and authenticity.
The other two switches I’ve replaced so far are in the hallway and the bathroom. I bought the other two switches from Classic Accents. Though their selection is more limited, their items seem higher-quality (more solid “click” when pushing the switch) and their prices are lower! So far no problems.