Double Parlor Home Library The Victorian House

I Almost Love the Library’s Vintage Floor Lamps

I’d been wanting a pair of swing-arm lamps to flank the black and white striped sofa in the library. The room needed more lighting on that end, and something with a little height.


I knew exactly which ones I wanted: Visual Comfort’s Dorchester Swing-Arm Floor Lamps. The whole Dorchester line is perfect down to every little detail! Aged brass, black tapered shades, cutely oversized ball finials, and the classic candlestick. Perfect. The lamps would have been about $1500 for the pair though, and while they are well-made and beautifully designed, that was a lot more than I was looking to spend. (Honestly, the kids knocked over the floor lamp that used to be in the library and I had visions of the same thing happening to far more expensive ones. The kids aren’t usually destructive, but they like to play behind the sofa like it’s a secret fort and accidents happen.)

I looked for less expensive alternatives. The problem is that I get picky about the details. I couldn’t find anything for under $100 that I wanted to buy. The lamps I did like enough to consider were in the $250-400 (each) range, and they would have needed different shades on top of that.

I searched for vintage lamps, too. I found a lot of great single lamps, but a pair was harder. A few months went by before I found what I was looking for on FB Marketplace… or close enough. All of that self-professed pickiness? I suppose I can overlook some pretty major differences if the price is right. $50 for the pair meant I could overlook a lot.

Library - August and Calvin Drawing

I can rattle off all the things I don’t love about them. The shades show some wear, I’m not crazy about the finials, and the candlesticks are more yellow than I’d like. The swirly bit is not my thing, nor is the octagonal base. That brass is some bright ‘80s brass. And functionally, I wanted a swing-arm.

But they do what I need them to do in the room. The overall effect is nice, adding height to the room and the extra lighting we needed. They already came with black tapered shades, and that black does add a necessary punctuation mark against a backdrop of pastel pink. The brass and candlestick elements are there even if not done exactly to my liking. And they’re unique! (Ha, that sounds like such a put-down. They’re so… unique.)

Vintage 1980s Brass Candlestick Floor Lamp with Black Tapered Shade

Would the other lamps look better? Yes. Does the difference bother me enough to swap them out? Nope.

Black Floor Lamps Flaking the Sofa in Our Library

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  • Jessica
    October 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for this post. People have to settle for things all the time, and it’s nice to see a blogger acknowledge it, too!

  • Catherine
    October 26, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    A bunch of things you could do and you can pick to do one, some, all or none: 1) You can buy new or vintage finials as well as 2) new or vintage shades. 3) You can remove the finish from the brass so it ages properly and 4) replace the yellowish candle part. Vintage lamp places can help but a lot of parts are also available online. All that said, when I buy used lighting, I always have a lighting place review the switch and check the socket.

  • Jamie
    October 27, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I actually really like them:)

  • Sarah
    October 28, 2018 at 6:11 am

    what a great find! i don’t dislike the swirls…kind of reminds me of a caduceus. do you think you could age the brass with acetone or something?

  • infinitequery
    October 29, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    It’s funny to me about your decorating budget now as compared to when I found you. You were expecting your 1st adorable,your home was lovely-a little on the modest side and I adopted you(mentally) to experience you and darling hubby and pseudo grandchildren. Your present home is beyond stunning but I must say the things you buy or consider buying cause me to gulp and take a deep breath. I am very happy for you and your readers never seem shocked by the prices so it must be that from 1959 when I was married to now times have definitely changed.

  • Lynn
    October 30, 2018 at 6:28 am

    Just rub some rub-n-buff in antique gold on that brass and those lamps will be killer! It will take about 15 minutes and will totally change them.

  • nadia
    November 1, 2018 at 9:42 am

    It is something about the angle of the shade, too wide, that I don’t think brings the best out of the lamps. Would a shade with a narrower angle (top and bottom openings more similar in diameter) work better?

    You could also remove the shades and associated hardware and put on a flickering flame pointy bulb and make them look like giant candlesticks for a neat postmodern pop-art look.

  • Claire
    November 3, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    That you even took a moment to consider lamps for over $1,000 is crazy! What you found is reasonable, though I would swap out for different shape shades (taller, column shaped.) Those shades look kind of small for the lamps, but I agree the color is perfect.

  • Wendy
    November 6, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    I love them! They ARE unique and I think that’s a huge bonus. I can understand your disappointment in the functionality, swing arms would be nice, but man, what a deal! I tend to get super absorbed in getting the absolute perfect item for a room, but in the end, whatever I end up buying works out fine in the grand scheme of things. You may end up loving these, too.

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