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It's not exactly news that the midcentury look is having a moment; in fact, it feels like every time we turn around, there's another teak bar cart or highboy calling our names. But while some aspects of midcentury design are pretty self-evident — molded plywood shapes a la Eames, tulip tables, Wishbone chairs — there's one area that often gets neglected when creating a midcentury modern dining room: lighting. And it's a shame.
As intimidating as swapping out light fixtures can seem at first, it's actually one of the most practical-yet-impactful changes you can make to a space. And unlike other home improvement projects, you can take it with you when it's time to relocate to your next midcentury manse. If you're looking to make a dramatic change to your dining room lighting setup, look no further than some of our favorite retro-cool ideas below.
1. Sputnik-Style Chandeliers
What could be more MCM than a bold Sputnik chandelier? These atomic-style light fixtures instantly add drama and quirk to your dining room, no matter its size. Perhaps that's why we've been spotting this Jonathan Adler piece — and many styles like it — just about everywhere in recent seasons.
Get the look: Jonathan Adler Brass Sputnik Chandelier, $2,090
2. Mobile Chandeliers
A close relative of the Sputnik style, mobile chandeliers borrow their delicately suspended shape from modern art and bring a definite sense of movement to your next MCM dinner party.
Get the look: West Elm Two-Tone Mobile Chandelier, $299
3. Bubble Lamps
When it comes to midcentury modern design, there are hardly two names more prominent than George Nelson and Herman Miller. In 1952, while serving as Herman Miller's Design Director, Nelson crafted the very first bubble lamp by spinning a skeleton of steel wires on a turntable and wrapping it with translucent plastic until it was covered in a smooth, washable film. "When you put a light in it, it glowed." (Long story short, your dining room will never look better.)
Get the look: Nelson Ball Bubble Pendant, $395+
4. Metallic Mesh Pendants
Serious question: Is there anything cooler than the mind-bending effect of LED light diffused through these airy mesh structures? We didn't think so. These Tom Dixon fixtures are not only swoonworthy, but they can also be gently bent to create different dimensions to suit your space. How's that for a party trick?
Get the look: Tom Dixon Large Brass Spring Pendant, $2,400
5. Shaded Sconces
Sconces in a dining room? Believe it. This signature midcentury modern style is making a comeback, and we love the trendy restaurant-esque vibe it brings to at-home dining.
Get the look: Hudson Valley Lighting Tate Sconces, $306
6. Cluster Chandeliers
Whether you purchase each pendant individually (it's OK, we're Type A too) or opt for a prearranged cluster configuration like this one, there's no denying that multiple lights are better than one when it comes to creating a high-drama effect.
Get the look: CB2 Ross 8-Bulb Chandelier, $449
7. Marquee Chandeliers
If "marquee" makes you think of those cheesy de facto lights around your rental's bathroom mirror, it's time for a shift in perspective. Modern marquee-inspired lights take this longstanding shape off the wall and transform it into a statement light format.
Get the look: Schoolhouse Electric Regent Chandelier, $1,999
8. Multi-Pendant Arrangements
Pro tip: One of our favorite ways to achieve a glamorous, eye-catching look without splurging on spendy midcentury light fixtures is to line up several more affordable options to create an irresistible focal point above the dinner table. Hey, more money left over for hosting your next soiree, right?
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.