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Commercial Lighting Restoration Study: Ancaster Town Hall

09 December, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

ancaster town hall chandelier


Ancaster Old Town Hall is a landmark historic building located on Wilson Ave East in the heart of Ancaster. Managed by the City of Hamilton, the 1870s edifice is a popular, versatile venue that hosts weddings, celebrations and community events. The objective was to restore the existing chandeliers, compliment them with custom designed lighting made by us, retrofit the lighting for LEDs and make it bright!




First we had to conduct a site visit to examine the existing lights and make recommendations for new lighting in surrounding areas. The 2 chandeliers dated from 1910 and have presided over the community for over 100 years.


before lighting restoration in ancaster town hall


Hanging 15' up in the air, detailed photos were taken and analyzed for restoration. We used our experience to determine the construction of the lights, the condition of the finish and prospective ways to increase light output through the discreet use of LED lighting. Lumen requirements for LED's were measured by calculating the total square footage which gave us parameters on which bulbs to choose.


Behind the Victorian arch on the main stage, there were 4 book matched locations for lighting. 2 of the locations were ideal for smaller chandeliers to provide general lighting for intimate events. The other 2 acted as spotlights meant to be used for plays concerts and presentations. Butting up against original plaster crown molding, the spot lights would be a fun challenge to design while the other 2 chandeliers had to be complimentary to to the main chandeliers. Everything was to be in made of solid brass for quality and finish.



Proposal and Quote


Once we complied and analyzed all of the information from the site visit, we condensed all of the information into core requirements. They were:

  1. Historic sensitivity

  2. Light output

  3. Longevity

  4. Environmental and energy requirements/savings

  5. Quality, pride and budget


LED filament bulb available in TorontoMultiple options were presented to the City detailing lumen requirements, restoration options and lighting fixture choices accompanied by photos and renderings. Because it's an expansive public space and the chandeliers are hard to access, LED lighting was recommended on all of the lights. They provided:

  • 70% greater brightness

  • 10x longer life from light bulbs (30,000 hours over 3000 hours)

  • 90% energy savings

  • Labour savings (do not have to change bulbs as often)

  • Warm colour temperature quality from LED filament bulbs

The City of Hamilton choose one option that incorporated high intensity COB LED's discretely placed in the chandelier along with decorative LED bulbs on the perimeter. Complimentary bespoke lighting was chosen for over the stage including LED spot lights handmade out of brass and finished to match all of the other lights.




Pick up and temporary replacements


Chandelier rentals torontoGiven that the hall was in constant use during wedding season, we supplied period reproduction lighting from our Custom Collection. They were altered to suit the hall and illuminated with the same LED filament bulbs specified in the proposal. The original chandeliers were cataloged and brought to the shop to visit the restoration doctor.


Restoration and Manufacture


Restoring lights is full of surprises. These were no different. Garland, garland.......lots of garland. It was Christmas in July with ancient remnants of decorations past.


Disassembling was straightforward and there were no areas of concern with dents, damages, breaks or splits. Where required, we do all necessary repairs including soldering, brazing and small sand casting to replace parts. High quality in their day, these chandeliers were commercial grade and wonderful to work on.


metal finishing and restoration torontoOur master finisher handled the 36” spinning's on the high speed polishing wheels where 35 years of experience was put to the test. The result was an incredible antique brass finish replicating a period finish from the era the lights were made.

brass finishing and polishing toronto

custom brass spotlights


Insetting the LED's was a little more challenging as we had to discreetly hide the lights, hardware, and driver in the core of the chandelier. Attention to detail, balance and functionality were key. The end result was utilizing the existing structure to mount the LEDs and accompanying heat sinks.

Custom spotlights were created from the drawings in the proposal. They were to match the finishes of the chandeliers, use high powered PAR 30 LED bulbs, be adjustable and fit in a confined space.

COB leds on antique light restoration


For over the stage, our Custom 5 Light Wakefield was an ideal match for the 2 chandeliers and spot lights. Handcrafted out of brass, everything was of the same finish and quality.


Delivery and Installation


Taking something down is easier than putting it up.


We like to make things easy to put up.


Instead of being 1 unit, the chandeliers were separated so they could be installed in 2 pieces. Easier for electricians to handle and less room for error or damage.

restored heritage chandelier toronto

When installed and illuminated, they were pure magic. The center light LED's illuminated the room and having the 2 sets on separate switches meant the light levels could be adjusted to suit any mood.

ancaster town hall installation





Large scale restoration projects are a detailed process but so very rewarding. The City of Hamilton was ecstatic with the restoration, placement of LEDs and functionality of the lights. From start to finish we worked with the City to update them on the status, coordinate with the electricians and deliver on time and budget.


The end result was nothing short of awesome. We do a lot of retail client rewires and restorations but it's challenging commercial lighting projects like this that we love. Thank you Carolyn Samko and everyone at the City of Hamilton for giving us the opportunity to be apart of the history of Ancaster Old Town Hall!




















August Updates

26 August, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

It's been an exciting August for us here and although we've been quiet on the blog front we've been busy in the shop!


Here's a teaser as to what's going on with more posts to follow soon.


Restoration Destination


Currently we have 2 large scale restorations taking place right now. The first is a commercial project in Ancaster for the lighting at Old Town Hall. A local landmark and architectural gem, the City of Hamilton contacted us to restore the existing chandeliers, add more lighting in to the hall via LEDs and design complimentary lighting for the stage area. Due to the size and historic nature of the chandeliers, we have been dutifully working away at bringing them back to life while updating them for LED lighting as part of our green initiative.









The second project is kind of a love affair as it involves beautiful historic chandeliers in a beautiful historic Toronto home. We were contacted to remove many period and original chandeliers from the clients home for restoration. In most cases clients will bring the lighting fixtures to us but in this case, due to fragility of the crystal chandeliers, we went on site to remove them. This included taking them down from the ceiling, taking apart and labeling and packing them onsite. Stunning to begin with, we can't wait to see the chandeliers restored and the reaction the homeowners have to seeing back in in situ.


Along with these, we are also working on some great client goods ranging from Art Deco floor lamps to a set of original European wall sconces from a Toronto house.





LEDs and Vintage Lighting


Our LED filament lightbulbs are a hit and we've had to up our supply to keep with the demand. And why wouldn't they be a hit? Same light quality as an incandescent, greater brightness, 90% energy savings and 10 times the longevity.


As our ongoing commitment to energy savings, we've been steadily retrofitting our 2300 sq ft showroom with LED bulbs. The difference is striking when you walk in. Greater light, sharper highlights and less of an environmental impact. Loving it all around!


New arrivals


New Stock abounds and we've got some great lighting in from different eras. An amazing 1870s gasolier is one of the highlights and one we have't seen for a long time. Restored with its French Bronze finish and antique shades, its a showstopper in the front of the showroom. Victorian gas lighting and Mid Century modern lighting seem to be the most popular this summer which is great. 2 distinct eras and styles all under one roof. Our new arrivals page is always updated and there's going to be a lot coming up in September!




New Designs


We've been hard at work letting our collective imaginations run wild and have some new designs to show for it!



There's more to come on that front and we're excited to debut them in the fall. All made in house, by hand, they'll add to our expansive line of custom lighting.



Celebrating 40 years of being green......

05 May, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment



Restored antique and vintage lighting is recycling in its purest form. In the age of disposable DIY furniture, lighting and home decor, most things are not made to last. Heirloom quality lighting does not originate from China in 2015 but instead from Europe or North America in 1915.


We've always prided ourselves on our commitment to the environment by reusing, re adapting and restoring lighting from a bygone era. Saved from the trash heap, we've preserved some outstanding fixtures and given them a new home for another 100 years.


When they come into us they are in various states of disrepair and require TLC specific to each one. Nothing goes to waste in the process as all old wire is scrapped and recycled, vintage sockets saved for historic purposes and broken parts are repaired by our restoration team. In many cases, original finishes are maintained by cleaning them with soap and water and preserved with an eco friendly water based lacquer. When a light is in need of a major overhaul and covered in too many layers of pink house paint, we bring it back to the base metal using non toxic methods. From there a hand applied patina or brass based finish is matched to the fixture and preserved with either wax or water based lacquer.


The cool thing with all old lighting and new lighting that we make here is that they are made of 100% recyclable materials. Brass, copper, steel, cast iron and aluminum are valuable commodities on the scrap market with many of the parts having even more value for future restorations. In our workshop in an extensive collection of old parts reserved for stock and client restorations. That's one of the many reasons that makes us the go-to vintage and antique lighting company.


One of the most common questions we hear is if we buy back custom lighting we sold years ago.


The short answer is no.


Not because we don't want to give it a good home or because it's not valuable any more. It's just that we are still making the same lighting models and are not equipped to buy more of it back.


But we will recycle it for you.


If you have a custom wall sconce, chandelier or lamp that was made by us, and have no further use for it we would be more than happy to break it down, take it to the scrap yard and save it from the land fill.


That's just one of commitments we have to the environment and our clientele.



Guide to Period Home Lighting

30 April, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

Flexible Guide to Historic & Period Lighting

art deco lightingThere are so many styles, influences and histories involved in old houses that the process of choosing a light can be overwhelming. To top it off, when you mix your personal tastes the process of choosing a light can come grinding to a halt because people are afraid of mixing what they like with what they live in.

My best piece of advice to every client is to choose something that they like. It’s their house and they have to enjoy every thing in it as much as possible. I used to be a real historical purist when it came to homes and would mainly guide clients to period fixtures for their period homes. Some would be really interested and jump at the chance to own something of the era while others leaned towards more modern fixtures 60 years newer than their 1870’s Victorian house. Although it may seem odd to put an Art Deco light into a Victorian home, its actually not.

 In fact, it’s very historically accurate.

As I mentioned before, old homes have had a variety of histories. From the people who lived there to both the major and minor changes that have been made to the structure over the years. Tastes and interiors changed and so to did technology. Electric lighting brought about new styles and designs and homes that were converted from gas to electricity often had the newest lights to reflect those styles. We’ve often seen original houses from the turn of the century fitted with all Art Deco lighting because those were the first electric lights ever installed in the house. The same goes with cast arm fixtures or just about any other electric fixture available.

When doing homes that were originally electric, the style is not quite as diverse as there were certain fixtures made for certain styles of homes. In Toronto, we have a plethora of Tudor revival homes, which was the style of choice for many of the 1920s “suburbs” now within the heart of the city. The Tudor and gothic style can seem very heavy and castle like which is appealing to some and oppressive to others. For clients that want more of an updated look with a period feel, we recommend using lighter finishes on the lighting. In some cases we’ll restore their period lighting that came with the home while in others we’ll select antiques and reproductions from our showroom. Finishes like satin nickel, burnished and highlighted brass and antique brass have a rich but lighter appearance that compliment more contemporary designs while also having a period feel.

 Also with older historic homes, what you see is not necessarily what you get. Many have been gutted or drastically transformed over the years with only remnants of their formers selves. Purists will bemoan this fact and often try and bring the home back to what it once was. For this you have my full respect and support as you are doing a huge service to the house. But for those that like the way it is, there are a lot of possibilities inherent on the walls and ceilings. Because you have a blank canvas, treat each light like a piece of art curated in a gallery. You can chose from different, styles and finishes and the only limitations are your budget and imagination.

To learn more about various historic styles, make sure to visit our lighting style guide.

Also, if you have any specific questions regarding your house or a certain style, do not hesitate to email me.


Guide to Buying Antique Lighting

buying antique lightingAntiques carry presence, history and craftsman ship that is rarely seen today. They are treasures to be loved, cherished and hunted for and one can’t help be amazed at the uniqueness of their design. There is a reason that people are drawn to antiques and that reason goes beyond the fact that they are old or potentially valuable. Instead the reason can be traced to what they are, how they have survived after all of these years and the personal meaning they may carry towards owners or prospective buyers.

Then there’s the hunt.

Any well seasoned antique hunter or new person to the market knows how much fun it is to hunt and find the right thing they were after. It’s not just buying something….its finding something. Something unique and wonderful that no body gets to own but them.

But for every treasure out there, there are at least ten wrecks out there that should be avoided.

From antique furniture to lighting, there’s a 50/50 chance that is has been altered, repaired or fiddled with in some way. Professional jobs are hard to spot and for good reason. Good repairs or alterations do not necessarily alter the value of the piece so much as just protect what is there for a hundred more years of enjoyment. Of course this depends on what it is and certain items carry higher values in their original state whether they are damaged or not.

Bad repairs though……they can be more hassle then they are worth. In my lifetime’s worth of experience in dealing with antiques, I have seen just about everything. From painted chewing gum to patch up holes to “rewired” lights done with speaker wire. I am amazed and confounded at the cheapo lengths DIY’rs will go to. What’s made even worse is when dealers know that there have been massive alterations or poor repairs and try to sell them as originals or fully “restored” pieces.

Like any resourceful company, we do look around to see what our competitors carry. There’s a lot of good out there but there’s also a lot of bad. One such company (that shall remain nameless) has a very extensive selection online, but a selection that is always on sale. When I look at what they have and what they profess them to be, I can’t believe they can charge what they do for essentially lying to people. At one point I saw a very nice set of early art deco slipper shade wall sconces on their site Unfortunately they were missing all of their glass (the most valuable part) and the glass was replaced by metal parts for the ceiling cap of an earlier lamp. A lamp made 20 years earlier I might add. And they were charging a higher retail price that we would ask in our showroom fully restored!

When I emailed the company about the sconces, they assured me they were all original and would never alter an antique the way I was suggesting.

It was outrageous to see and even more so to be lied to.

And I’m sure they do it every day.

Antique dealers and companies that restore antiques sometimes have a bad reputation as sharks or shysters and its because of companies like the ones above. Which is why I’m trying to right the wrongs.

When you are looking at antique lighting, there are things to be mindful of other than style, size or budget. Here are a few:

Electrical Safety

Antique lighting was either, gas, electric or both. Unless it’s a signed L.C.T Tiffany or Handel lamp, the original wiring and sockets ad no value to the lamp and actually act as a liability. All vintage and restored lighting should be rewired with new sockets and either CSA or UL approved for installation. By law through the Electrical Standards Act, all lighting has to be certified for installation. All to often, antique dealers and “restoration” companies will replace the lead wires but not the sockets as seen the photo on the left. This is not safe and not reflective of a quality restoration. Only porcelain sockets should be used for down bulb lights as seen on one of our restored fixtures on the right.

Repairs and Adaptations

As I mentioned before, there are some terrible repairs have been conducted on antique lighting with the goal of getting the job done as opposed to getting it done right. The fixture on the right is a fantastic C 1880 aesthetic movement gas light. It came into us with a couple of the arms drilled out when it was originally electrified in the 1900s. Not only did the person drill right through the arms to get the wire through but they also ripped off the gas key so no one would turn it and pinch the wire. This was an incredibly poor job that resulted in us doing a full restoration of the arm and a recast of the gas key. It looks as original as the day it was made but took us a long time to correct other peoples problems. When looking at antique lighting, its important to notice poor repairs and use those as red flags that the light isn’t what it seems. Fixing those bad repairs can often cost more than what you paid for the light which is why its important that its done right. Saves you time, money and provides piece of mind which will allow you to truly enjoy the light.

Finish and Overall Condition

Original finishes are the most sought after for certain collectors and there is a reason why. Its partially reflected in the overall value but more importantly, its something that has lasted all of these years which is a rarity with antique lighting. But original finishes are fragile things and often don’t last the test of time. All too often people with re-polish antique lighting to get the bright shiny brass effect but fail to lacquer or treat it in any way. As a result, the fixture tarnishes and needs constant maintenance as seen with the fixture on the left which has tarnished to a dull brass. To make matters worse on the fixture, the person who “restored” it failed to remove any of the dents in the center body and actually left wire sticking out of the arms. The fixture was actually “live” on the ceiling which was a major fire hazard.

With finish, its important to choose something you like and a finish that will last. All of our finishes are period style finishes fashioned after original ones form the 1880s onwards. They are all treated with lacquer or wax and are suitable for interior and exterior use where specified.

industrial pendant from a factory in detroitAlthough a lot of this may seem overwhelming, its actually not. I explain it to clients everyday and that’s what make us and our lighting different from our competitors. Although we may not divulge how we restore everything we always make sure to both show and tell people that it’s done right. That’s why we’ve been in business for over 30 years restoring lighting, have CSA approval on our lighting and why we offer a warranty on all of our antique lighting.

 We stand behind everything that we do because like the antiques we love to find and restore, we want them to carry on for another 100 years of enjoyment.