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Lighting Curio Cabinets and Antique Furniture

Lighting curio cabinets and antique furniture is a delicate and complex process. Fortunately, Phantom Lighting has decades of experience in illuminating all kinds of curio cabinets and antique furniture. We also specialize in custom led lighting for bookshelves, breakfronts other styles of display cabinets!

Phantom’s founder and president, Tom Kretzschmar, has an extensive personal history in the lighting design industry as is considered one of the best in the business at lighting cabinets and furniture with proprietary lighting products manufactured by his company.

His unique cabinet lighting techniques are all fabricated by hand and engineered for individual lighting needs and made to order.

Illuminating Curio Cabinets

The most difficult aspect when adding lighting to curio cabinets is the presence of mirrored back panes and glass shelves. When lighting curio cabinets with mirrored back panes, the biggest problem is reflective glare. This is an almost unavoidable disadvantage when lighting a display cabinet where the shelves are in front of a mirror or highly reflective surface.

For these reasons, mirrored curio cabinets are very difficult to illuminate. Most cabinets are lit from the top down and have glass shelves so the light will travel the full height of the cabinet – this is to prevent light from reflecting off the mirror creating unsightly glare. The disadvantage to top down lighting is that each solid object creates a shadow below and the light rarely illuminates all the objects in the bottom of the cabinet.

If you are willing to cover the mirrored back with wallpaper, fabric or cloth, you can open the door to new opportunities for LED linear lighting. Depending on the shape of the cabinet and how the glass shelves are supported, vertical cabinet lighting is the best option. This will provide uniform illumination from top to bottom allowing you to finally enjoy your prized possessions. LED lamps, unlike incandescent lamps, do not produce heat, nor will they fade your display objects.

When lighting curio cabinets made from solid wood, the problem is shadows and uneven distribution of light. This is why some of these showcase cabinets have two or more cabinet light fixtures to light the objects from multiple angles. The disadvantage here, though, is that too many lights creates “fixture clutter” that diminishes presentation.

Illuminating Corner Cabinets & Antique Furniture

We’ve received inquiries along these lines from several of our customers –

“I recently acquired a large antique corner cabinet for my home that desperately needs some kind of internal lighting. I have placed the cabinet in a dark wood room which gets very little natural lighting. My home is fairly traditional, so I do not have overhead lighting to wash the cabinet like they did at the antique store. Can you help me?”

We recently acquired an antique display cabinet from my grandparents. In researching a suitable lighting solution, I found your company on the web and it looks like you specialize in exactly what I am looking for. What is the process for ordering your low voltage lighting products and how do I know which model to use?”


Phantom strip lights, particularly the Vertical Mount (VM) Series, are perfect for illuminating curio cabinets and antique furniture, or any kind of furniture for that matter. When illuminating corner cabinets, a great option is to install our vertical mount strip lights hidden inside the cabinet on both sides as well as a horizontal strip on top to provide an indirect light source. The low voltage transformer is hidden in the base cabinet along with the dimmer control.

We custom-fabricate vertical Phantom light trims to fit between the shelves of your specific piece of furniture and connect them together with small wire jumpers to create a continuous light source. All Phantom light trims have a glare shield which prohibits you from seeing the light source from any viewing angle. The internal strip lighting in a corner cabinet is striking at first glance and accentuates the details of whatever you choose to display within it.

Horizontal Mount (HM) Series for lighting curio cabinets and antique furniture is another method of display lighting.  Horizontal lighting provides uniform illumination and evenly lights objects on display while putting any shadows behind the objects that may be distracting.  Additionally, horizontally mounted lights are recommended for cabinets over 30″ wide as vertical lighting may produce a dark center or elongated shadows.

Phantom’s Classic lighting systems are top-of-the-line when it comes to low voltage festoon (LED or xenon) strip lighting. Other manufacturers of linear lighting products, such as rope light, fail to hide the light source, resulting in a distracting visual result. Other strip lighting products would require more intrusive wiring methods which would devalue the cabinet. If you’ve purchased an expensive antique, the very last thing you’d want to do is drill holes in it!

Lighting curio cabinets and antique furniture is fun and easy to install as all Phantom lighting products are shipped with detailed installation instructions.

If you have any questions about our lighting curio cabinets and antique furniture contact Phantom toll-free at 800-863-1184 or request a quote using our online form. Or if you prefer, sign up for our monthly newsletter and we will keep you up-to-date on new product launches, resources, and more.

Phantom Lighting Systems is a proud ASID Industry Partner and welcome the opportunity to work with interior designers who are lighting curio cabinets and antique furniture for their clients.

Phantom Lighting