Retro Ceiling Light Shades From the 1950s

Written by sara john
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Retro Ceiling Light Shades From the 1950s
1950s lighting style embraced bold colours and patterns. (beautiful addition... image by Andrey Ivanov from

Adapting a retro look is one way to bring a neat twist to your kitchen. The 1950s era with its bright colours and bold geometric patterns are an especially favoured choice. Incorporating this style into the home can be fairly simple. One design technique is to bring in lighting reminiscent of the time period, which can be a fairly inexpensive way to achieve the look you're seeking. To pull off the 1950s look, a few lighting styles should be considered.

Drum Lampshades

A drum lampshade is cylinder shaped and often resembles an oil drum. Structurally, it is the same size on the top as it is on the bottom. This shape is one that has a 1950s feel, and this feel can be enhanced by selecting from a decade-friendly colour. Homeowners can find this style in a variety of colours, though bold colours are ideal. Most manufactures can produce shades in antique white, coral, turquoise and lime -- all colours popular in the period but with a touch of modern flair. Additionally, the shades can include a variety of decorative spatters, swirls and diamond texture to bring more visual interest. Variations on this style include two- and three-tier styles.

Pendant Lights

Used commonly in kitchens, pendant lights can be a simple way to get a retro '50s look. The basic set-up is the same for all manufacturers and comes in two types. The first is the hard-wired variety, which requires being wired into a junction box, while the second light can simply be hung and plugged into an outlet. The shades on pendant lighting can be selected to match individual decor and can be found in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Drum styles are available, but for the really creative, a variety of wooden, umbrella and fan styles can be found online and at some lamp speciality shops. Unlike older models, the modern pendant lights can function on energy-efficient bulbs, making them a smarter choice than their vintage counterparts.


A hallmark of retro 1950s style is funky colour, often in vibrant hues or soft pastels. Bold colour palettes were found in many homes, including tones of bright yellow, blue, orange and red -- colours that will make modern pieces feel classic. A second favourite option is to go with colours of the pastel family -- particularly mint green, turquoise and pink. One colour scheme that was common then and now is combining white, black and red. When any of these colours are present in a lighting fixture, they can create a modern twist on the '50s look.


To create an authentic 1950s-inspired lighting piece, finding a period-style fabric is important. During that era, colour and pattern were big style points. Fabrics for lampshades were often one,colour and stitched with contrasting colour or decorated with a pattern. Stars, polka dots and diamonds were favourites as were more subtle swirls and speckles. For a truly interesting look, try to find the "Boomerang" pattern that was commonly used on wallpaper and other textiles. A modern recreation is a resin-covered parchment, which gives the traditional look without fading and other problems.

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