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 made with 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 allow the light to be moved 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 be used both for full-room lighting and close up illumination, like a reading lamp.
Shop Pendant Lighting by ZUO
Superior Task Lighting
Shop Pendant Lighting by Landmark 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 these simple farmhouse style pulley lights from Landmark Lighting, because they have a handle built into the milk-can style shades, making them easy to pull up and down, either lighting your whole kitchen or zooming in on a prep area. Add two or three and you can not only light a whole island, but get some incredibly flexible lighting.
Pulley lights usually come in ones and twos for the simple reason that weights and counterweights are easier to manage in singles and pairs. But even so, there are a multitude of designs out there, ranging from simple sleek pullies to more unique and quirky designs, like this expandable, squishable line of spring-rings or the scissor style extension pendant below. 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, whimsical 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. This Emerald lamp from Zuo looks like something straight out of an ACME box, with a scissor-style extender that would be paired with a giant boxing glove in a cartoon, but manages to be strangely elegant. 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.
What do you think of these pulley lights?