One of my personal favorite design trends, and one that I’m pleased to be seeing more of, is the use of reclaimed materials and spaces. From furniture made of salvaged wood or metal parts to whole lofts made in converted warehouse spaces, I love a look that’s aesthetically old, textured, and rugged. I love old wood, iron, brick, and stone, and the sense of industrial modernism. But even if you don’t have the luxury of living in a beautifully redone waterfront warehouse, this is definitely a look you can get – and pulley lights are one of my favorite ways to do it.
What Is A Pulley Light?
Pulley lights are pendant lights based on antique industrial and farming fixtures. They’re consist of one or more pulleys, usually one counterweight, and a very long, winding cord. Now, while all these gears and oiled metal parts have all the industrial vibe you could want, they’re also quite functional. The pulleys let you move the light up and down and even side to side, while the weight keeps it in place wherever you position it. That means even a simple pulley light can provide both full-room lighting and close up illumination, like a reading lamp.
Superior Task Lighting
The mobility of pulley lights makes them an ideal choice for a variety of different areas. They work well as pendants over a table where you both eat and work, in a living room near a reading chair or game table, or – my personal favorite – as a kitchen island light or island pendant. I particularly like simple farmhouse style pulley lights that have a handle built into the milk-can style shades. The handle is a nice rustic touch that makes the lights easy to pull up and down, either lighting your whole kitchen or zooming in on a prep area. Add two or three (or a connected 3-light fixture) and you’ll not only light the whole island, but get some incredibly flexible lighting.
Pulley lights usually come in ones, twos, and threes for the simple reason that weights and counterweights are easier to manage in small quantities. But even so, there are a multitude of designs out there, ranging from simple sleek pullies to more unique and quirky designs. Whether it’s lots of lights rigged together from machine parts, an expandable, squishable line of spring-rings, or ACME-style accordion arms, some of the more unusual industrial pulley lights are ideal for adding a touch of whimsy to your space. If you like the industrial look (or, let’s be honest, if you tend a little towards the steampunk) pulley lights are a great option, as it’s easy to find inventive designs to fit your personal taste.
Have Fun With Your Lighting
This variety and playfulness of design is maybe what I like most about pulley lights. With a variety of bits and bobs, twirls and loops, and surprising balances and counterbalances, pulley lights not only come in a great range of styles, but are consistently unique from any other type of light, even among the most unique modern pendants. Pulley lights offer a playful statement piece with some of the gritty, reclaimed, industrial style that works so well in a modern loft.
Decorate Your Workspace
While large pendant lights are usually placed over large, built-in pieces of furniture in fixed, central locations in your home, pulley lights work exceptionally well in work spaces, like drafting tables, work benches, or the like, especially if you do live in a high-ceilinged loft. This Agate pendant is one of the pulley lights that moves both up and down and side to side, meaning that just a light touch of the handle can help direct the light across your workspace without taking up any space on your desk or hanging too low above your head. Sick of the light? Just push it up and out of the way. Need a better look at something? Pull it right back down and toward you. Plus, the lean, simple lines are equal parts art and architecture, meaning they’ll blend aesthetically as well as functionally with an artistic workspace.
Not Just Pendants
If I’m being honest, though, I have to say that my favorite pulley lights might not be the traditional pendant-style ones at all, but something more like this pulley style floor lamp. Designed to swivel, raise, and lower, this is both aesthetically delightful (equal parts gritty industrial and pure playful fun) and more flexible than most any other floor lamp you’ll find. Like a hybrid of old fashioned swing-arm lamps and modern arc lamps, the light can shine a decent distance away from the base, offering you greater, more flexible illumination farther away from your outlets.
There are lots of oddball, whimsical lighting fixtures out there that embrace an industrial, steampunky aesthetic. But pulley lights give you the best of both worlds: a fun, old-but-new sense of style and more flexibility and functionality than you can get from almost any other kind of light.