12 Tempting Tole Chandeliers

by Grace Bonney

I will never forget the first time I saw a tole chandelier that felt cool and not dated or fussy. It was in the first issue of Domino magazine and it was painted a bright glossy white against a seriously awesome navy blue kitchen wall. I tried, and failed, to replicate the look (in full) in my Park Slope kitchen and ran away from navy blue paint forever. But I never quite let go of tole chandeliers. The look may feel a little (or a lot) flower for some, but they’ve always had a soft spot in my heart because I think they can look incredibly cool when given a fresh coat of solid paint and updated with rounded bulbs (like this). Tole can sometimes skew a little Hollywood regency, but if you pair these with decor that’s somewhat minimal and simple, they can really be the star of the show. So today I thought I’d round up 12 of my favorites from around the web. I find Etsy to be the best spot for nabbing well-priced vintage tole* chandeliers, but Ebay has some great options, too and 1stdibs, of course, has the fanciest but most dramatic examples. Genuine Italian and French tole can be pricey, but a lot of the mid-century versions are quite affordable and perfect for a little update. Don’t be afraid if the multi-colored versions feel a little dated or garish- a coat of solid paint really lets the curved metal forms shine and feel fresh again. Hopefully there’s something here for anyone who feels like cleaning up an older chandelier and giving it a new life. xo, grace

*Tole refers to painted, enameled or lacquered tinplate that’s most commonly used for decorative domestic goods. We see it a lot in chandelier form, but you can also find it on trays and other tableware.

Top image above, chandeliers show in full (the rest are after the jump): Gold Italian tole chandelier $389, Coral painted tole chandelier $566, Tulip Tole chandelier $284, Bamboo tole chandelier $455

Image above: 20thC Gathered Tole Leaf 12-Light Chandelier, 1st dibs

Image above: Italian Tole Chandelier $175

Image above: Tole flower chandelier $170

Image above: Tole flower chandelier $141

Image above: Toleware chandelier $128

Image above: Italian Tole chandelier $795

Image above: Italian Lilies Tole Chandelier

Image above (detail shot in main header image): Six-light French tole chandelier

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  • I have a friend who bought a house that had four of these already in there! She threw them away!!! When I found out, I hauled ass to the dumpster but they were gone. She was clueless about what she had done. She thought the were old lady and and old in general. Broke my heart.

  • What coincidence! I was looking at tole fixtures earlier this morning because I’m having a hard time finding what I want for my bathroom. Tole is on the list of options. I lived in a place that had a nice small one in a breakfast nook. I could have replaced it (with something less awesome) with impunity. I’m sure that the management would not have known or cared about it.

  • Hi Grace – your account of a failed attempt with the navy wall paint has intrigued me. All of the DIYs you post are so perfect (obviously, otherwise you wouldn’t post them!) Maybe the Design Sponge team would be willing to bare their souls and tell us about some DIY failures and what you learned along the way?

    • I have two one in each bed room. They were there when I bought the house. Was wondering what kind of paint you used.

  • I had no idea these types of chandeliers had a name! I’ve always loved them and I’ve never seen such variety as you show here. The Italian Lily chandelier makes me crazy it’s so pretty! It would be perfect in a little girls room. Imagine how it would inspire little girl daydreaming! Thank you!

  • I love my tole chandelier. Picked it up from Renningers antique extravaganza last year. I paid $75 and it didn’t even need to be rewired!

  • That kitchen is lovely! What made you run away from navy paint? I’m hoping to use it in my next home.

  • I am kicking myself for getting rid of my “dated” tole bedside table lamps, purchased shortly after my 1975 wedding. I re-painted them at least twice, and then just hauled them off to Goodwill a few years ago. What was I thinking?

    • Chris

      Those flexible Swiffer dusters are great, as well as the compressed air blowers (for small intricate sections) you can use for computer keyboards.


  • I managed to come across one of these at a yard sale. I thought I was paying too much for it ($20). I took it because it was so pretty and a fresh coat of paint would really make it wonderful in my shabby chic room. It still works too. However I’m wondering where I can get it appraised? I always enjoy knowing the worth of something in my home.

  • What makes something Italian Tole? Does it require a Made In Italy mark? Or does it refer to the metal painted flower decorative elements? I have a vintage floor lamp with a marble base and lovely painted metal flowers. It looks like “Italian Tole”, but there is no mark as to its origin on it.

  • I have one that is in need of a good paint job. I would like to do it myself-what kind of paint do I use? How do I apply it? Any and all suggestions would help. Thank you.

  • Hello,
    I was fortunate to find a pair of gorgeous, what I think are Tole unpainted sconces. I have seen identical ones that are painted on Etsy, ebay and 1stdibs, but I can’t find any markings to determine if they are actual Tole, please advise.

    Thank you

  • How do you clean a very dirty enameled tole chandlelier. Water ? White vinegar ? I don’t want to lose the colors. Painted on the piece

  • The tile chandeliers were also made in France, mostly in the 40s-50s. I have one that I inherited from a friend that for it from a client who was throwing it away back in the 80s. He was a very heavy smoker, and it is heavily stained with nicotine. I cleaned it after I received it, but the colors are very faded, and it really looks like someone glazed it, because of the staining. I’ve always wanted to paint the flowers and leaves with enamel paint that’s used for models. I don’t know if I should, or if it would reduce whatever value it has. I love it and don’t want to get rid of it.