Want something timeless yet trendy? Something vintage yet current? Well, mid-century modern decor is the answer you’ve been looking for. Mid-century modern decor, in general, refers to decor that comes from the period between 1945 and 1975, roughly; whether they’re actually that old or just modeled after the decor trends of the period, they fall under the “mid-century modern” category. Mid-century modern decor effortlessly combines the best of vintage designs and contemporary vibes.
Given their aesthetic appeal, it’s unsurprising that a large number of folks are buying into the idea of mid-century modern decor, mid-century modern lighting in particular. Whether for the outdoors, indoors, bathroom, dining room, or garage and from chandeliers to fixtures to ceiling fans with lights, mid-century modern lights are making their presence felt throughout households around the world.
All of this sounds great, but what are the best places to find mid-century modern lights? And preferably without completely decimating your bank balance? Well, we’re here to shed some light on just this topic, so read on for a complete breakdown of the kind of mid-century modern lights you can find, as well as the best places to find them in!
Types of Mid-Century Modern Lighting
Mid-century modern lighting is mainly recognized by the works of 3 luminaries who are the go-to choice for connoisseurs of this style—Louis Polson, Floss and George Nelson’s Bubble Lamps.
Louis Polson’s current avatar is a result of Danish architect Poul Henningsen joining Louis Poulsen, an electric supply business. The continuous innovation by the former led to the creation of the PH Lamp in 1926, a hallmark of mid-century modern decor. George Nelson Bubble Lamps made an entry in 1952, created by George Nelson. Flos Lighting is the new kid on the block, created as a result of Achille Castiglioni’s need to light his dining room! Introduced in 1962, the designer’s need gave birth to the iconic Arco floor lamp.
If there’s anything the above shows you, it’s that there are multiple mid-century modern lighting options at your disposal, so there’s absolutely no need to compromise when it comes to picking out the lighting that works best for your home, preferences and style. For those who want a classic mid-century aesthetic, pendant lights are the solution, whereas, for those who want grand, dramatic pieces, mid-century modern chandeliers are the way to go.
Here, we discuss a few styles of mid-century modern lighting:
Mid-Century Modern Outdoor Lighting
Folks love the clean lines of mid-century modern outdoor lighting and the fact that it doesn’t overpower the natural beauty of the outdoors. Pendants, wall sconces and chandeliers are among the most popular options for outdoor lighting.
Mid-Century Modern Pendant Lights
Pendant lights are a great option to bring in some light in open spaces or covered entryways. As the name suggests, these lights hang from the ceiling like pendants and provide subtle lighting.
Mid-Century Modern Chandeliers
As mentioned earlier, chandeliers are bold and dramatic. A lot of folks think that such lights are reserved only for dining rooms and other indoor spaces but chandeliers can provide a beautiful focal point in your outdoor space, making heads turn all the time!
Mid-Century Modern Wall Sconces
Sconces are great for spaces that require bright lighting. Sconces are functioning yet beautiful, providing directional lighting yet adding a new level of aesthetic appeal to your house.
While picking out a light for the outdoors, keep in mind that though beauty is important, you also need to pick out a fixture that can withstand the harsh conditions that the outdoors sometimes present. Check for lights that do well in damp/wet conditions too and look for a UL listing, especially if you intend to put the light somewhere that it can come in direct contact with the rain.
Mid-Century Modern Bathroom Lights
Bathrooms also set the stage for some killer mid-century modern bathroom lighting, with the star-like Sputnik (yes, named after the real thing!), and hanging lighted spheres, the chart toppers here. Some folks even transport their bubble-light sconces and pendant lights from their backyards to their bathrooms with excellent results.
You can use these lights above your sink, on either side of your mirror or cabinet, or flush mounts that light the space from overhead. Make your choice based on what needs to be illuminated in your bathroom and how you’d like to light it—recessed lighting to overhead to wall fixtures, the possibilities are quite vast.
Mid-Century Modern Ceiling Fans with Lights
If you don’t have enough space to accommodate a lighting fixture and a fan, look no further than ceiling fans with lights! These innovative objects can make quite a statement as it is when the fan isn’t in use and continue to make a statement even when you switch on the fan part! The perfect combination of beauty, practicality and functionality? We certainly think so!
Just ensure that when you pick out one of these, both the light and fan parts suit your needs and preferences—there’s no point investing in one if the light is too dim but the fan works well, and vice versa!
Other Types of Mid-Century Modern Lights
Other types include:
- Mid-Century Modern Lighting Vintage: These include vintage lights that can date back to the original mid-century era and can add quite a traditionally beautiful look to the room.
- Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Light: These lights are meant for dining rooms, and can be chandeliers, pendants, or a mid-century modern light fixture on the walls.
- Mid-Century Modern Garage Lights and Driveway Posts: As the name suggests, these lights are meant for your garage and driveway. In the case of garages, the commonly used lights are flush mounts, wall fixtures and very rarely, hanging lights. In the case of driveway lighting, lights are generally mounted on the driveway posts.
Now that we know the different kinds of mid-century modern lights that are available, let’s move on to what are the best spots you can hit to find them!
Where to Find the Right Lights
Luckily, though it sounds like mid-century decor is going to be rare or hard to find, it’s popularity has led to it being available in a lot of places, both online and offline, both in big-box retailers and small boutiques!
Here’s a list to make things easier:
The obvious choice for many shoppers online, Amazon sells almost everything under the sun, and mid-century modern lighting is no exception. From mid-century modern ceiling lights to mid-century modern hanging lights to bathroom fixtures, you’ll find a veritable mid-century modern lighting utopia here!
We especially love the collection of bathroom lights that are available; the Kira Home Indie and Rivet Starburst lights are superb sconces, whereas the Rivet Vanity Lights will add a simple yet sophisticated feel to your bathroom. Our top choice is the KSANA Gold Light Fixtures—these babies ooze elegance and sophistication as few other bathroom lights can.
It’s not just about the bathroom lights, though—check out Vinluz’s Modern Sputnik Chandelier for a stylish, relatively cheap yet supremely beautiful light for your dining room.
Wayfair is an online retailer that’s earning an increasing number of fans each day, thanks to the wide and beautiful range of home decor objects that it offers. They have an assorted range of lovely mid-century modern lighting fixtures, from common vanity lights and Sputnik chandeliers to the relatively more rare flush mount. The Islas Mid-Century 1-Light Flush Mount caught our eye here, though we bet the Nora Sphere Chandelier and Red Barrel Studio’s Outdoor Wall Lantern will catch more than their fair share of eyes too!
Another mass retailer that the masses simply love, Target is “the” spot to hit for affordable yet beautiful objects, mid-century modern lights included. They have a superb collection under $50, with lovely lights costing as little as $8. We dig their ceiling fans with lights, especially the Aker Ceiling Fan and the Hunter Low Profile Lighted Fan.
One of our picks is the Cantilever Floor Lamp Brass, featuring a gorgeous brushed brass finish and an adjustable arm that lets you direct the light, perfectly blending functionality and beauty.
The king of home needs and excellent deals, we’re completely in love with IKEA’s offering of ceiling lamps and pendants. The Frihult Light is for the budget shoppers, whereas the big-budget shoppers can give the Atersken Ceiling Lamp a consideration.
Bed, Bath and Beyond
The next option on our list of big-box retailers is Bed, Bath and Beyond, another go-to for home decor. We love the Pacific Coast Mid-Century Modern Table Lamp—a beautiful blend of gold and black with clean lines and oodles of elegance. The Kenroy Home Alvar pendant light is another beaut—and quite reasonably priced!
Home Depot has a great collection of mid-century modern chandeliers—not only are these beautiful but very budget friendly, too. The Staunton Collection Pendant and Fife Sputnik Chandelier are our top two picks at this retailer, but rest assured that you’ll find enough and more options here to satisfy any palette.
Wayfair also owns AllModern, a leading furniture supplier. The collection of mid-century modern lighting grows even larger with AllModern in the picture.
Boutiques and Small Retailers
You’d be surprised at just how much wealth small stores and retailers can hold, especially boutiques and quiet little stores tucked away into even quieter bylanes. The probability of finding genuine vintage lights is quite high in stores like these, and the best part is that most objects you find in such stores are almost always unique or produced on a smaller scale than those offered by big names, which means that lesser people will have the same mid-century modern wall lights that you have; let’s be honest—who doesn’t love a little uniqueness?
Shades of Light, Poly & Bark, Birch Lane, World Market, Lamps Plus, and Lights.com are our top small retailer and boutique picks. Shades of Light has a lovely collaboration with Young House Love that’s resulted in even lovelier bubble vanity lights, with a brushed brass finish and dark bronze backplate that’ll up the style quotient in your house in no time!
Poly & Bark, on the other hand, offers some pretty mean Sputnik chandeliers. The best part? They’re super affordable—you can easily get a 24-inch lamp for less than $100. World Market, a one-stop shop for all boho-chic needs, offers a relatively limited number of options but their Antique Gold Hairpin Floor Lamp Base has stolen our heart and will steal yours too, we’re pretty sure!
Additionally, do give Lamps Plus’ beautiful 360 Lighting collection for some trendy, stylish, reasonably-priced mid-century modern lights, Birch Lane’s wall sconces with glass orbs and bronze finishes (among others) and a super-sleek plug-in pendant from Lights.com that you can pair with artisan light bulbs from their extensive collection.
As for boutiques, a simple Google search may throw up results, or talking to your neighbors, especially those who’ve lived in the locality for a while, will lead you to gold! Milwaukee, for example, has vintage stores such as BC Modern and Brew City Salvage listed online.
Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list! The internet has led to the springing up of many retailers that sell great mid-century modern lighting—Lumens, Chairish, West Elm, and YLighting are also great sites to check out. Do your research thoroughly and you’ll be surprised just how much you find and how many options are available to you!
The Final Word
As you’ve probably seen, the world is your oyster when it comes to mid-century modern lighting, from the types of lights available to where you can buy them. These lights can transform your space, and how! Mid-century lights are beautiful, practical and provide concentrated lighting to any area and come in a range of shapes, colors and sizes to suit a range of tastes and preferences.
Ensure that you do your research properly when you pick out the lights you want, right from your needs to what lights can satisfy them to where you can buy them. With so many options available, it can get overwhelming, but doing your research will make things a little bit easier—as will our list, of course! It all ultimately comes down to what you want, so don’t forget to listen to your intuition either and prepare for truly timeless elegance in your home with these lights.