41 midcentury lighting ideas – post lanterns, lamp posts, wall lanterns and landscaping lights

HERE IS A REALLY GREAT SURVEY OF VINTAGE OUTDOOR LIGHTING, from my 1961 Progress Lighting catalog. I started with this photo because: Just look at the little umbrella landscape light. It is phenomenal! The careful addition of outdoor lighting can be one of the easiest and relatively cheapest ways to improve the curb appeal of your midcentury ranch house, Cape, colonial or contemporary. At minimum, think: High quality, well maintained wall lanterns adjacent to or above the entry door and garage, and a lamp post either at the front of the driveway or closer to the house next to a walkway heading toward the door. Landscape around the lamp post – this is also a great piece of ‘hardscape’ to launch a decorative fence. Light are “sentinels”. Use them to ultimately draw attention toward your front door…they are tools to make your house say a big, warm “Welcome.”


All of these lamp post styles are “around” — except, as far as know, for the decorative steel one, #3. I did feature a metal post for a mailbox that might be able to be adapted for this use. I also must say, I am not quite sure where to get a post that includes the hanger thingy shown above on all the posts. We had to drill ours in, it was a real hassle. Finally, on this topic – I know where to get a nice, heavy duty custom name-and-number plate to hang on your lamp post. We have one! It is so cool! Will do a post soon. A post post tee hee.


1961 post lanterns. SO COOL. LOVE that guy in the upper right with the house numbers included. Swoonable.


A couple more. The three colonial styles can *pretty much* be found today. See my Lighting Fast & Easy Page. I like the white and gold, so scrumptiously cheesy. Seriously, I really like it!


Oh, and here’s some more. Nice! These lanterns – hmmm, nothing like them available today, I fear. ?


Wall lanterns to match. Hanover (see Fast and Easy Page) make lanterns with the scrolly thingys, like the example at the top. This style goes over the garage, center. You need to make sure you fascia is tall enough. Be careful about scale. In fact, scale is a very Important issue regarding all these lights: You don’t want your lights to be too big, or too dinky. You want them to be just right. One of my biggest pet peeves is the houses today with their gargantuan wall lanterns. Ugh. You want people to see your House. Not your Wall Lantern. These are like jewelry. Agonize over this decision, please.


More outdoor retro lighting. P5970 at the left, middle: You can get this from Rejuvenation – see the Fast & Easy page. Love 5973! Tim Wetzel: Can we have this one, please?


The three colonial style ceiling fixtures on this page – ubiquitous in the 50s and 60s. Everywhere! Easy to find replacements today. But they can be cheap looking. Spend a little extra to get solid heavy construction. It will subconsciously comfort you even though the inexpensive big box store lights look the same. Also: I always see LOTs of outdoor lights at the Re-Store. Tim: We want P5978, too, please – a lovely ‘colonial-modern’ bridge.

  1. Maureen says:

    Here’s a post about my parents’ house that has a lamp-post that my dad would have made in the mid-1960s:

    My mother still has this lamp-post which sits near the sidewalk leading to their house. She had it painted white instead of its original black. (I prefer it in black). It may inspire others to make their own too! He also put an electrical outlet in the bottom of it which was handy in winter for block-heater purposes and the outlet was controllable from the house. (Can you tell he was an electrician?)

  2. Tut says:

    5970 is the one that caught my eye. But my favorite outdoor fixture is still the green 3-tier ground lights, especially when they’re near some big evergreen bushes or along a curved driveway. Timeless.

  3. sumac sue says:

    Our colonial-style lamp-post is somewhat like #5490. But, the top of the lamp, or lid, has four glass inserts, rather than being solid black metal. We couldn’t get the lamp to come on by flipping the most likely switch, and we figured something was wrong with the wiring. Then, we discovered it was wired to a different switch, which also controls one outlet in the living room. Weird. The previous owner, a retired art teacher, had painted the pole bright red, as well as the mailbox by the front door. Also weird. We repainted them black. I use twine to allow morning glories and clematis to grow from the ground up to the lamp. (I also use twine to allow morning glories to grow up to the soffits on the west side of the house, creating some shade over the windows. It’s fun, then, to look out the windows and watch the bees on the flowers.)

  4. sumac sue says:

    One last thing — my parents once had a lamp-post featuring a projection made to look like a tree limb, with a squirrel perched on it. Like Maureen’s mother, they kept it painted white. We kids would joke about the albino squirrel on the lamp-post.

      1. Pam Kueber says:

        Hi Janet, I recommend starting a bunch of saved searches on ebay using different terms. Then just wait it out, it will come to you. Right now, I see two 6″ tall vases fitting your description – these could likely be easily converted to lamps, but I’m not sure they are what you describing — http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-50s-Bud-Vase-Tree-Trunk-w-Squirrel-22-K-Gold-Trim-MCM-SHAWNEE/263120323880?_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D45727%26meid%3D2749a1d1d7e647d680afcb821bcf46ca%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D2%26sd%3D132298980638&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851

        Good luck.

  5. Heidi Swank says:

    We bought a light that looks a lot like the P 5970 from Rejuvenation called Otis. We love it. It really lights up a lot of our yard and yet makes the front of the house seem homey and inviting.

    1. Lisette says:

      loveitlighting.com has those lights and more importantly for me the replacement globes. They are not cheap but it is what you are looking for.

  6. Jacquie Y says:

    My husband and I just got home from picking up the P 5973! We just put it up outside the front door, looks sooo sharp! Saw it on CL and had to grab it. The man said it was from his parents store in 1950’s, and he just brought everything that was left in the store here to Phoenix from Chicago.It was in a Progress box, he said it was the original box that it came in. I am happy! I can post pics if you would like to see!

  7. So I was perusing this post and realized that we have one of the Progress Lightning fixtures listed here on the outside of our house. We have a pair of P 5966’s flanking our front door.

    Interesting fact about that light – it isn’t metal. The main body is thick glass that is just painted black. I’m going to be repainting them soon, so I will snap some pictures.

  8. dorothy bryant says:

    This out side pole post lamp is old. Do all of the bases usually fit in the same fixture. The roofers threw shingles down from the roof
    shattered it and i don.t see a model number. It was here in the early
    60’s I see one i’d like to order in this add,

    1. pam kueber says:

      dorothy, this story is about vintage lighting – we were just taking a look at old advertising material as a reference. these items are not really for sale.

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