Antique switch plates are a great way to accent period decorating. Using modern or generic plastic covers on outlets and switches can actually draw attention to those few touches that do not go with the rest of the furnishings. Each period has certain qualities that will add to the home dÃ©cor.
The Arts and Crafts period ran from 1910 to 1925. Oil rubbed bronze switch plates is a favorite material to use for covers to match this style. Oil rubbed bronze is not shiny and quite dark. This mixes well with the medieval feel that the Arts and Crafts style liked to use. Most metal switch plate covers of this style use square and round cutouts or windows to accent the cover. The surface of the plate is often hammered which gives it depth and character. This is a fantastic style that works with large furniture but should be avoided if you have a delicate doily home.
The Victorian style isn't really a single style at all. This period ran from 1830 to 1910. It can be plain, fussy, or ornate depending upon which style within the Victorian period. Most Victorian switch plates go toward the Queen Anne style which is fussy and ornate. You will find a lot of intricate scrolling along the edges of the tall shiny plates.
The Art Deco style shows up from 1920 to 1930. This style has bold geometrics and often uses primitive artworks. You will not find a plain switch plate here. Art Deco switch plates frequently use irregular and layered pentagons with a starburst pattern included at the top. Art Deco decorative switch plates can be either shiny or distressed. Brass and bronze are popular metals for this style. The regular rectangular switch plates will be decorated with primitive decorations.
Art Nouveau style runs from 1890 to 1905. This is a softer style that uses soft pastels, organic forms, arches, and takes inspiration from nature. When buying Art Nouveau switch plates you are sure to find plenty of curves and plants. Straight lines are seldom seen in this style of decorating.
The Mid-Century style shows up from 1933 to 1965. The mid-century switch plates are simple, clean and integrated with nature. This style leaves behind the ornate, fussy, and ostentatious designs of times past.
Antique switch plates can be distressed. This distressing gives the switch plates a true antique feel. It may not feel like it but electricity is a recent invention. There weren't many households that actually had things like switch plates back when most antiques were being made. In order to have something that matches period furniture some concessions must be made. One of those concessions is antique looking electrical items.
Most light switch plate covers are manufactured to fit the three types of switches that are commonly found in houses today. Toggle switches are the regular up and down switches that most of us are familiar with. Two button switches require special push button switch plates, and finally rocker switches need a larger hole for the switch and the rocker switch plates provide that.