Mid Century Modern Bullet Lights

A tale of four lights.

(Image courtesy of Zach Dobson)

It was the bright of times, it was the dark of times.

Okay. Done with that witless attempt at funny. Onward.

Mid Century Modern lighting is iconic.

From Nelson Bubble Lamps to the holy-grail-equivalent, Arco Lamp, Mid Century Modern lighting transcends the era in which it was designed. It seduces the most contemporary spaces. Seductions are nice.

Upon procuring our Mid Century Modern abode from the now infamous "house flippers", we were left with a slew of contractor-special, big-box hardware-super-store, flush-mount lights. We affectionately describe these lights as (for lack of a more accurate visual) flesh-mount breast lamps. One doesn't have to squint to see our point.

A view of our peep show on the ceiling:

Removal of offending lights was in order. Carefully. So as not to be accused of groping:

We were faced with poorly executed work in need of ceiling patching.
Big surprise. Yay for fun. Double yay for incompetent house flippers.

Patch work complete. Now in need of appropriate non-anatomy-thought-inducing replacement lights donning the proper Mid Century Modern vibe.

We've long had a love of Mid Century Modern bullet lights. This love is unrequited no more.

Found: set of four vintage cone-shaped bullet lights on Ebay:

These poor lights had succumbed to several coats of paint over the years. Discovered original color was orange. Convenient. Serendipitous even. Orange happens to be our accent color. We decided to contribute one more layer.

Stripped, sanded, smoothed. And then we got to work on the lights.

Hit with orange spray.

Dig it.

One perceived drawback to bullet lights is their uni-directional spotlight nature. No matter. We embrace all things for what they are, including flesh-mount breast lamps.

Following a brief head scratching session, we recalled seeing Mid Century Modern clip-on light diffusers advertised in vintage home publications. Attempts to find these online netted us nothing. Undeterred, we innovated.

List of materials:

• Decorative sheet metal (available at most any hardware store in a variety of patterns).

• Small lamp shades with clip-on-to-light-bulb attachment. Found at Goodwill for 50¢ each.

Let's roll.

Cut the shade part of a lamp shade to shreds, leaving you with the heart of this project - the "clip" (the two little circles in the center basically "clip" around the top of a light bulb).

Trace clip onto decorative sheet metal.

Cut traced lines with shears. Sand down dangerously sharp edges.

Epoxy sheet metal to clip. We chose Seal-All. Dries fast and clear.

Clamp. Go play Texas Hold 'Em, or splatter a canvas while you wait.

Paint desired color. Or leave metal finish. Which ever you prefer. We won't judge.


Enjoy the fruit of one's labors with a balanced mix of friends and adult beverages.

(Image courtesy of Zach Dobson)

Result: nice mood lighting that doesn't blind, confuse, or inspire illicit thoughts.




Natalie said...

So creative! I love it!

A Year at the River said...

Clever MCM innovators you are!

Ms. B @ Millie Deel said...

What a great change! Love them!!

Tibby said...

Seriously, did you say flesh-mount breast lamps?

John and Diane said...

Terrific orange bullet lights and those metal diffusers are a great idea. Very clever!

miles said...

great idea for cheap! i've always loved mid-century bullet lights.

Unknown said...

Wow what a fantastic idea! Love it.

Diane said...

can you share the orange spray paint color you used on the lights? I painted some and it was too orange....they looked brighter than pumpkin orange. thank you