I Trolled Etsy for the Best Lamps under $100

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If this story had a doormat, it would say, “THE REST IS SEARCH HISTORY,” and you might ask where I bought it. Welcome. Take a seat. Would you like something to drink? And would you like to hear the whole story of how I tracked down the Murano glass in which your drink is served? If so, you have come to the right place.

The Rest Is Search History stems from my inherent nosiness: I want to hear about other peoples’ hyper-specific search terms, guarded like sapphires at the Smithsonian, their laborious and surprising journeys down various shopping rabbit holes, and the elaborate shopping strategies they’ve honed over time. Today’s guest is, at times, my closest confidante and archnemesis: I am interviewing myself.

Edith Young, associate editor chez Man Repeller

Your shopping rabbit hole: Cool lamps under $100 on Etsy, because they said it couldn’t be done!

Can you walk me through what going down this rabbit hole entails? On behalf of pedestrians everywhere, yes. I am a firm believer in the idea that restrictions and boundaries inspire creativity, and my search for table lamps on Etsy supports this theory. Etsy, offering both vintage and handmade/upcycled options, promotes a system of recycling that really gets my gears going. To narrow my search, I visited the “Price” toggle with my cursor, adjusting the limits from zero dollars to a maximum of $100. Search terms? “Lamps,” (so crazy that it just might work!) and also “murano lamps,” to dredge up some dupes or kindred spirits to those mushroom-shaped lamps everyone on Instagram likes so much.

From there, I tunneled through pages and pages of lamps: lots of junk, but also a good deal of treasure. This is the part where I annotate all the good stuff I found and walk you through it like it’s my own personal Etsy sub-$100 lamp showroom:

Nothing says, “Restoration Hardware, for less!” like this pair of minimal Dutch lamps. Beauties:

The product description describes this cornflower blue lamp as “shapely.” A photo of its luminance confirms that it turns sultry when lights are low:

Simple! Lovely! You will write the next Great American Novel under its glow in the dark of night:

Are you, like me, bonkers for banker lamps? They should sell green eyeshades (the visors that tax accountants wore) as a package deal.

Midcentury, a term that seems to mean a lot of different things to different people! I must admit, the green Italian one from the ’70s has my heart.

Here are a few that look like you got them from a flea market:

Some Memphis-esque solutions for what some affectionately call “nipple lights,” installed overhead in your rental when you move in:

My favorite bar in New York is the Trailer Park Lounge, which is the kingdom of kitsch, and I love it when I find something that I’d see there. Do you want to feel like you live inside a 20th-century sitcom? Then I recommend an owl lamp with glowing eyes. With regard to the wooden sailing ship—can you be an adult and have a pirate-themed bedroom?

If you click on the link to the cowboy lamp and it’s marked “sold,” it’s because I bought it between the time I wrote this story and we published it. One step closer to this powder room by Miles Redd.

If you’re going to hang a skateboard on your wall, it might as well function as a source of light?:

Dr. Seuss books were harmed in the making of this lamp:

Just add an oceanic noise machine:

Does anyone have a Mini Heng Balance lamp? Would love to hear your review.

Lamp arithmetic: Green porcelain enamel… + exposed Edison bulb… = results beyond your wildest dreams. And someone out there wants a Lego lamp, I can just feel it in my bones:

There are a lot of people who gravitate toward household items in the shape of an animal. For those people, I recommend this pair of panther lamps. These seem to be designed to also accommodate a small plant:

As all good searches do, this quest takes me on some inexplicable tangents: take, for example, this Popeyes poster, which looks like a college graphic design project, these truly nutty life-size lamps, and from the way other side of my taste’s spectrum, this gorgeous Flowerpot lamp.

I am also quite taken with this poodle lamp, though it exceeds my poodle lamp budget at the time of writing:

What ultimately satiates the quest? The cowboy lamp and the green, midcentury Italian number are the two finds that speak to me, and now they duke it out for a place on my desk.

Graphics by Lorenza Centi.

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