Growing up in the shanties of Quezon City, I lived my childhood in a home with only one light–one bare bulb over the kitchen table. That is where we ate as a family and where I labored through books upon books all the way through high school. And when it was time to get ready for bed, we transferred the bulb to the next room. Today, I fill my home with lamps of every size, shape, and color, and I cannot tolerate ceiling lights. Here is the source of this addiction if not minor affliction.
I love lamps and I can’t have enough of them. Whenever thrifting I immediately look for each and every midcentury lamp that I can find. And if I were to call our home something out of Game of Thrones, I’d call it the House of Lamps. I love the way they look, their shapes, the original materials they are made of, and how they have functioned over the years and still remained cool and current over decades.
The resurgence of midcentury modern design in nothing new in the Bay area. In fact San Francisco led the movement in building homes known as “little boxes” and a lot of them are still here. One can still buy an original Eichler between San Francisco and Palo Alto but it will cost you a fortune. Those who opted to change have removed and donated these gems out of their homes and into the Goodwills and Salvation Armies, where they have become treasures not only of the House of Lamps but also on Pinterest boards and pages of Apartment Therapy. The Mad Men series as we know based the characters from the era while its interiors became a tour de force in style and inspired designers who adored the renaissance.
Some become famous and rich from redesigning and recycling the 50s, 60s, and 70s, like Jonathan Adler new pottery or Trina Turk’s fashion collections without losing sight of the Palm Springs lifestyle. I can also add the Parker House in Palm Springs that Adler redesigned. I find the thrill of the hunt for these treasures very exciting. As I add to my growing collection, I sometimes worry about whether this might be an early sign of hoarding. But as I think about it, I see it all goes back to that bare bulb in my childhood home in Quezon City.
I admit that it is getting to be a little difficult to find great vintage lamps here in San Francisco as every home that I have seen on Pinterest has one or two midcentury modern lamps. What is even harder is to find them in mint condition with their original shades. I also have profited from selling them on Craigslist, and in fact I have a pair of white bedside lamps listed right now. We have a lot more that have been recycled and sold over the seasons and one of my favorites is the black metal which was a gift from our friend Pierre Yves.
I am just glad that my husband Peter is there to control that sudden urge to hoard all of them when and if I could. So from now on, let there be lamps.
… Here are a few more favorites from my collection: