When it comes to selecting hardwired lighting for your modern or mid-century home, it can be a big decision that requires a lot of planning and thoughtfulness. With so many options in the modern lighting market currently available to homeowners, how do you make sure that you are making the right choices that will best fit your home’s overall look and feel?
For starters, you need to be sure that the lighting you select will create cohesion, and that you aren’t going to end up with choices that generate too much ‘visual noise,’ or distract from the space’s best architectural features. Finding the right balance of hanging lamps, chandeliers, sconces, and flush mounts require a delicate approach and extraordinary attention to detail.
Before you get started on your quest for modern lighting, one key factor worth consideration is determining what kind of look and feel you are going for. What do you want your space to say? How do you want your guests to feel when they arrive at your home? Are you hoping to convey a sophisticated and sleek modern look, or would you prefer a playful, and casual vibe? There are lighting options available on all ends of the spectrum and at varying price points that will help you achieve the right look that you are going for, no matter what that may be.
Regardless of whether you are selecting lighting for a brand new modern house or a mid-century modern home, you need to be intentional with your choices. To create a period appropriate look in a mid-century modern home, for example, you could scour the local antique and thrift stores until you find that perfect vintage piece; but that may lend itself to a whole host of electrical problems, if you don’t intend to have the piece refurbished and rewired.
The extra work may be worth it if you are committed to keeping your mid-century modern home’s original look and feel intact and want to be as authentic as possible. But if you are more concerned with achieving the right look, and are ok with selecting new lighting that maintains a retro aesthetic, there are plenty of great selections available for new lighting that will work well in replicating that great mid-century appeal for your living space. Opting for new lights will spare you potential complications, and reduce energy consumption issues that can arise with antique lighting.
For an authentic retro look in your modern or mid-century home, there are great options for reproductions, and timeless designer pieces still in production that can help create a warm mid-century feel. I think finding balance by mixing and matching new modern lighting, with iconic mid-century lighting can be a great way to ensure a current look with retro appeal.
Here are a few choices of modern ‘retro-inspired,’ and timeless, iconic hardwired lighting that can help to achieve a modern retro look for your modern or mid-century abode.
Chandeliers & Pendants
PH50 Pendant Lamp
Designed by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen Lighting
Available at Design Within Reach
Having graced the halls of universities, restaurants and libraries in Europe for decades, the PH50 Pendant Lamp (1926) is one of Poul Henningsen’s most recognizable lighting designs. Constructed by Louis Poulsen, the original manufacturer since 1958, it features a shade with layers of varying sizes and shapes to direct light both horizontally and vertically. Striking in form but compact enough to be used in multiples, this versatile design is suitable for residential and commercial spaces. Bulb (not included): 200W/A23/E26. UL Listed. Made in Denmark by Louis Poulsen.
Beat 3 Light Multipoint Pendant
By Tom Dixon, from Tom Dixon
Available at Ylighiting
The Beat 3 Light Multipoint Pendant system allows the creation of luminous clusters within a single, self-contained unit. Concealing unsightly wiring within the suspension cables, each system includes a round multipoint canopy in a white powder coated finish, with pendants offered in black powder coated finish. Pendants are composed of spun brass with a hand-beaten brass interior, canopy is constructed of steel. UL listed.
Nelson™ Saucer Pendant Lamp
Designed by George Nelson, produced by Herman Miller
Available at Design Within Reach
Architect George Nelson, who was Herman Miller’s design director from 1945 to 1972, once said, “Every truly original idea seems to find its most important expression in a chair.” And then he blew the doors off lighting design. While outfitting his office, Nelson discovered a silk-covered Swedish hanging lamp that he coveted but found too expensive. He then recalled seeing a photo in the paper of Liberty ships being mothballed “by having the decks covered with netting and then being sprayed with a self-webbing plastic,” which got him thinking. “And then, Whammo!” Inspiration struck, and by the next night, Nelson had designed his first Bubble Lamp® (1952) by spinning a skeleton of steel wires on a turntable and shooting it with translucent plastic until it was covered in a smooth, washable film. “When you put a light in it, it glowed.” This is the authentic Bubble Lamp, produced in partnership with the George Nelson Foundation.
Cantrall 24-Light Sputnik Chandelier
by Langley Street
Available at All Modern
The collection displays an explosion of light from a center core with optional vintage bulbs and thin arms on a starburst style frame finished in satin brass.
Luna Pendant Cord with 10″ Shade
Price: $219.00 Each
Available at Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co
Pared down to the elements of line and light, the Luna Collection retains a delicate, sculptural quality that illuminates a room even when unlit. A stylish take on task lighting, the glass shade’s milky finish imparts a moonlike glow. A vinyl cord and streamlined components add to the versatility and simplicity of this fixture.
Wall Scones, Flush Mounts, & Semi Flush Mounts
Luna Semi-Flush Mount
Available at Rejuvenation
Elegant and unexpected, the Luna is a beautifully proportioned double-bowl fixture that can define a large space. It also makes it a good choice for rooms with lower ceilings (all the better to enjoy its space-age details).
This family of fixtures is based on a series of originals made between 1953 and the early ’60s. To reproduce the design, our glass-making partners create the outer dome by screen-printing a “spirograph” pattern onto a flat piece of glass and then “slumping” it into a rounded form. The inner bowl determines the kind of light cast: etched glass (on the Luna) creates a soft, diffused glow, while metal (on the Meteor) reflects the light upward, washing the ceiling.
Galaxy Single Sconce
Available at Rejuvenation
The Galaxy Single Sconce is a fun and retro wall-washer. It’s a perfect accent light for any space, from mantels to hallways to bedrooms.
In the vast “cosmos” of mid-century modern lighting designs, the hourglass profile remains one of the most iconic. Fresh and futuristic when first introduced, our handcrafted aluminum fixtures are an elegant update for traditional and modern homes.
Isaac Sconce – Long Arm
Price: $169.00 Each
Available at Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Company
We fused the arcing lines of a Scandinavian classic with handcrafted, vintage-inspired materials to create this Schoolhouse Electric Original. A study in simplicity and elegance, this midcentury modern sconce illuminates a room even when idle.
Handcrafted from steel on a custom lathe, each material offers a juxtaposition of light, finish and texture. The hand spun steel is a celebration of color. Hand-finished with gloss white interior, the sconces brilliant hue is sure to leave a lasting impression. Complement intimate spaces or group with multiple sconces to frame a room.
Nimbus Large Flush Mount
Available at Rejuvenation
Have you been frustrated by the lack of practical, affordable, and stylish lights for homes with low ceilings? Folks, the Nimbus Large Flush Mount has landed. With “starlight” pinholes and Swedish-style cased satin glass in a spaceship-like profile, it has mid-century personality aplenty for retro enthusiasts.
And, lovers of postwar, ranch, and modern design will enjoy the clean lines of a bright flush-mount light that complements their home décor in kitchens, bedrooms, hallways, and offices.
With clean lines, low profiles, and personality aplenty, these fixtures complement the space-age style of mid-century modern homes and add a hit of retro quirk to contemporary construction.