Vintage wallplates — an easy jolt of retro

vintage wall plates for midcentury homes

It seems like most every owner of a 40s 50s or 60s home ripped out their stylish, original electric switchplates at some point, and replaced them with innocuous ones. It is great fun to try to find these – and to replace them throughout the house. I think they a terrific touch. AND, see update from reader Lou…


Yowza: Look at this one contributed by reader Lou! I have never seen one like this before.

vintage-wallplate2And, she sends this one – it glows in the dark – and has those special star-shaped screws. Cool!

vintage wall plates for midcentury homes

vintage wall plates for midcentury homesThere are actually quite a few designs – Modern…and colonial…as usual. It’s nice to find enough to have all the plates in one room coordinate — but I am not too obsessed with being all matchy matchy throughout the entire house.

You can find wallplates at estate sales, in the basement on a shelf or near the tool bench. And – they often show up, in original packaging like the ones shown here, at my Re-Store. In either case, you can generally pick them up for 10 cents to a $1 each.

A Retro Renovation re-run, originally published Jan. 29, 2008

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Every time I have a question about mid-century decor I find the answer on this blog. We are currently renovating our 1958 split-level, and we upgraded the electrical outlets to today’s standards, but I set aside the plethora of original light and outlet plates for safe keeping – they look similar to the ivory plastic plates with stripes in your photos. I am curious though, were the ivory plates always a yellow tone or have these plastic plates yellowed over time? If they were originally whiter, is there any way to restore the plastic to its original color? Either way, I’m leaning toward keeping the ones I have since there is no substitute for character.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Elizabeth, as far as I know – they were always a yellowed-white. I vote: Use them! Keep them! And, YAY that you find so many answers here — that’s our goal!

  2. BlueJay says:

    I was doing an unrelated search for faucets (go figure) and found this post. We scored some of the Homart outlet covers a while back (1st pic., far left), but were unable to find a single pole light switch plate. Does anyone know where I can get one (or have one they’re looking to find a new home)?

  3. I found a box of plates recently at a resale shop, some in brown and some in ivory. I wanted to put them in our house–they would’ve gone perfectly-but my husband nixed them. We have the innocuous ones. No fun, but he says they’re easier to keep clean. So now the neat ones are in my shop, hoping to find another loving home.

  4. Darryl says:


    Looking for vintage 70’s switch and outlet plates. Specifically looking for a three slot switch plate. Added a third switch to a bank of switches, but can’t find a three switch plate to match the old ones! The are kind of hammered looking with brass/brownish black shading, giving them the look of aged metal with the various shades/tones.

  5. Judith says:

    We have the one on the far right all over our house in both the off white and brown. Never realized they were that old, but it does make sense as the house was built around 1920.

  6. Natalie says:

    We have the middle one in the first picture throughout the whole house! They’re original to the house (at least, I imagine, a lot of the fixtures are)!

  7. Sandy Z. says:

    My house has the plates like the one in the center. A few were missing when I moved in, but I lucked out and found several at the nearby thrift center that someone had donated during a renovation.

  8. Leeann Wright says:

    Hi! We have a lot of luck in small local mom and pop hardware stores…we always stop when we are on road trips.Our 1950 cape is jammed with odd plug and switch configuations,and like MidcentKeith, someday I, too, will trace those random wires.

  9. Bryan Wood says:

    I also have a 3-in-1 and a 2-in-1 in my 1953 ranch house. There are 2 or 3 switches mounted in the space of one, working horizontally instead of vertically. It was an innovation tat did not catch on. The also made them with 3 outlets, 2 outlets, 1 switch and an indicator light, and any combination of those.

    Once again, the place I got my replacement in the rich chocolate plastic was Liz’s Antique Hardware, while I was working there last year. You can give them a shot, I don’t recall if we had any more of them. They do have a decent selection of the more common ivory colored and chocolate plastic plates, but no single outlets. If you need an outlet with a switch next to it, you’re in luck. They had tons of those.

    LAhardware.com or 323-939-4403 xt 4

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