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Hurricane Irene, with her projected (and unwelcomed) weekend track up the East Coast, got me thinking about hurricanes in the design world. No, not your hubby’s mess of a man cave or the kids’ it-looks-like-a-hurricane-passed-through-here playroom. I’m talking about hurricane lamps. What’s their history? How did they get their name? And why don’t I have one? After some digging, I discovered that 19th-century hurricane lamps were originally oil-burning lamps with a curvy glass chimney to keep the flame from burning out during hurricanes and storms packing high winds. Hence the name. (Those must have been some drafty houses.) I also discovered that hurricane lamps — both antiques and contemporary electric versions — are extremely easy to find and buy. And for a surprisingly affordable price. You’ll notice that most early hurricane lamps are fairly plain with little decorative value. That’s because their utilitarian purpose was valued more than their appearance. Years later, designs emerged with various shapes, sizes, colors and even intricate patterns.

I’m completely smitten. What about you?

Hurricane-Lamps-Irene-Etsy-HGTV-DesignHappensHurricane oil lamps, left to right: Etsy / 3vintagehearts :: Etsy / NoveltyandThings ::  Etsy / cynthiasattic

Do hurricane lamps ignite any memories for you? Is a glass hurricane lamp the first thing you grab when the power goes out? Or is it purely for decoration in your home?

Tell us your thoughts and stories in the comments below.

8 Responses

  1. Anna@HGTV says:

    Now I want to play 'spot the hurricane lamp' in period movies and tv shows!

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  6. Nana4XY says:

    Karli, if you're on the East Coast that wasn't an earthquake. It was the Founding Fathers turning over in their graves. And the aftershocks weren't aftershocks — they were the result of a $14 trillion check bouncing in DC!

Kayla KittsKayla is a special projects editor at HGTV.com and a co-editor-in-chief for Design Happens. Kayla is an overbearing cat mom with a love for vintage-modern furniture, artisan cocktails, organizing all...


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