From Chicago to Berlin, chandeliers play an important part in our Houses. In this extract from our new book, Morning Noon and Night, we explore their history and how they can be used to bring light and glamour to your home.

The History of the Chandelier

Over the years, we’ve sourced hundreds of antique chandeliers. From mid-century Italian to American ballroom, they have become key features in our bedrooms, bars and bathrooms. Here, we chart their ornate origins.


The first chandeliers date back to the 1300s and were simple in design, often made from a wooden cross with small spikes to hold candles. These were mostly used in medieval churches and abbeys.


More complex brass designs were developed as chandeliers and entered the palaces and homes of the wealthy. In 1434 Flemish painter Jan van Eyck produced one of the earliest paintings of a chandelier in The Arnolfini Portrait.


English glassmaker George Ravenscroft introduced lead glass to the world of lighting in 1676. Far easier to cut than rock crystal, this soon became the preferred material for chandeliers and, as designs improved, the crystal chandelier became fashionable.


The word chandelier dates back to 1736, originating from the French word for candle (chandelle). Neoclassical designs and chandeliers blown from Venetian Murano glass were
both popular in the 1700s.


After the invention of gas lighting, many candle-lit chandeliers were converted. The design of modern chandeliers slowly changed after the electric light bulb was introduced in 1879.


The chandelier crash is a key scene in Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation uses a one-tonne replica of the Paris Opera House chandelier, made with more than 6,000 beads.


The largest chandelier in the world, designed by Scottish lighting designer Beau McClellan, took two years to make, and is 5.8m tall, 12.5m wide and 38.5m long.

Sourcing Chandeliers

The wrong lighting can ruin a room and spoil an evening.
 On the other hand, flattering low-key lighting is transformative on the space and the experience. Chandeliers help bring a sense of decoration and polish to even the simplest of rooms. ‘We prefer to see the bare bones of the building,’ says interior designer Vicky Charles. ‘Adding a chandelier is a lovely contrast
– a piece of precious jewellery hanging in the room.’

You'll see original 1970s Kalmar glass chandeliers in the Drawing Room in Soho House Chicago, a custom-made Swarovski chandelier in Soho House New York and a vintage chandelier in Fancy Farm at Soho Farmhouse. Our Soho Home chandeliers are inspired by the vintage and custom-made examples found in Soho House Chicago and Soho House New York and feature hundreds of faceted, hand-cut glass beads that are arranged to catch and refract the light, creating dramatic light patterns around a room.

House tip:

Clean your crystal using a lint-free cloth sprayed with a solution of 1 cup vinegar and 3 cups warm water

Soho House Chicago

See our vintage and custom-made chandeliers in the bedrooms and club spaces at Soho House Chicago.