Last updated on December 12th, 2021
Looking at banishing the boob lights from your home? You’re in the right place!
In the world of home decor, there are some words that immediately fill you with dread and an imminent sense of foreboding.
Anything that says ‘live, laugh, love’ on it…
And probably the worst one of them all…
… Boob lights, aka ’ceiling tiddies.’ aka ceiling hooters …. you get the idea!🤣
Let’s take a look at why boob lights became so popular, and some great lighting alternatives that you can illuminate your home with instead.
Watch the video!
What is a boob light?
The boob light (or flush mount dome light fixture, to give it its formal name) is a common type of light fitting.
As you can see from my illustration below, boob lights come in all shapes and sizes (just like REAL boobs!!). But fundamentally they are all just variations on the same theme: a glass or plastic dome, secured by a metal screw, or finial, in the centre of the dome.
Boob lights have been around for years. While they were first seen in the late 19th century, they really came to prominence in the mid-20th century when they were regarded as a super-cheap and efficient way of lighting up mass-produced homes.
Fast forward to the present day … and they are still regarded as a super-cheap and efficient way of lighting up mass-produced homes…
If the above examples weren’t clear enough and you’re still asking yourself… “why is it called a boob light?”, then allow me to explain: the curve of the glass and the central placement of the finial look suspiciously like… a breast.
Yep, once you see it, you definitely can’t unsee it!
Also, it’s just easier to refer to them as boob lights rather than using the real name, “dome flush mount ceiling fixtures”.
Why are boob lights so popular?
Boob lights are particularly popular with landlords and builders. They’re cheap to replace, easy to swap the bulbs out of, and as they are so ugly and non-descript, tenants aren’t tempted to steal them when they move out! (Seriously.)
Even if you don’t have boob lights in your home right now, you’ve probably lived somewhere where they’ve had pride of place in the foyer, landing or living room (or laundry, garage, closet, bedroom… ok, basically any room with an overhead light fixture! 😱
But really truly, the main reason for their popularity is because they’re cheap as dirt.
Barring screwing a bare light bulb directly into your ceiling, boob lights are pretty much the cheapest overhead light fixture you can get. You can buy packs of them in bulk at your local hardware store usually for well under $50.
So, for any developer building on the cheap, these lights are simply a no-brainer.
Many houses that were built in the mid-20th century came with boob lamps installed. As lower ceilings in homes became the trend, boob lights were seen as an ideal choice. As they were flush to the ceiling it meant that rooms appeared more spacious, and people weren’t likely to hit their heads on a dangling light fitting!
The best alternatives for boob lights
Despite the titillating (sorry🤣) name, boob lights are actually terrible news for interiors.
Not only do they look cheap, and not really light up the room properly, but they’re a magnet for dust, dirt and insects.
I remember replacing a boob light many years ago. Halfway through unscrewing it, a bunch of dead insects fell straight on my head! I can laugh about it now, but at the time … it wasn’t as funny.
The good news is that boob lights are easy to replace. Here are some of the ways you can say ‘boob-bye’ to the boob light and transform your room.
(FYI: At the bottom of this article, you’ll find some of my favourite boob light replacements).
1. Flush mounts
Flush mount light fixtures are completely flush with the ceiling. Basically it just means there are no gaps or holes between the light fixture and the ceiling itself.
They are a single, overhead light attached directly to the ceiling.
If you have low ceilings in your home, there are lots of chic flush mounts that will stay flush to your ceiling; giving you style without compromising on space.
There are flush mount lights to suit every aesthetic and budget, from traditional to modern, through to metal, wood and plastic.
If you’re renting, dismantle your boob light, and keep it in a safe and well-hidden🤣place. Like in the back of a closet. You can just screw it back on when you move out!
TIP: Don’t forget! If you replace your boob light, you might need to touch up the paint on your ceiling as they can leave rings, especially if they’ve been up for several years.
2. Semi-flush mounts
A semi-flush mount hangs a few inches from the ceiling. So, you will lose a little bit of ceiling space, but your room will look a lot more glam!
Semi-flush mounts can be a great compromise for areas where a pendant was intended but is discovered to be impractical due to ceiling height.
The added bonus of semi-flush mounts is that they give your room more light than flush mounts, because not only do they provide direct downward light, but they provide an uplit effect on the ceiling as well.
3. Pendant lights
If you like the focused light that a boob light provides, a pendant light can make for a lovely alternative.
Bear in mind that these types of lights will hang from your ceiling, so you’ll want to make sure you have a relatively high ceiling before you begin. Or at the very least, make sure you calculate how high or low you want your pendant to hang before you make your purchase.
You don’t want to be banging your head on your new light every time you walk in the room!
REMEMBER: Whether you are hanging a semi-flush mount or a pendant, you should make sure you have 7′ clearance between the bottom of your light fixture and your floor. With ceilings above 9′ you’ll be fine, but you’ll definitely want to be mindful with eight and nine foot ceiling heights. In other words, you should safely be able to hang an 18″ semi-flush light or pendant from an 8′ ceiling.
4. Recessed lights
If you have low ceilings, a spotlight or downlight is excellent for highlighting key areas of your room. As these types of recessed lights don’t add any bulk to your ceiling, they’re fantastic for making your room feel lighter and airier.
Recessed lights can be fiddly, as you very well may need to put a hole in the ceiling to pop them in. If that’s the case, you will want to hire a licensed electrician rather than try and install them yourself.
5. Light shades
Replacing your boob light with a light shade is a great option, and it can easily be DIY’d. There are lots of light shades available in a wide range of shapes, colours and textures. A drum shade will pretty much always look better than a boob light.
Some people are able to attach their new shade using zip ties. But depending on your boob light set up, you might be able to screw the light shade on or attach it to the existing fittings. Alternatively, you can buy a conversion kit that takes just ten minutes to fit.
Every light might be a little different – assess what you have, and decide what the best option for your particular situation is.
15 super chic flush + semi-flush ceiling lights
If you have boob lights in your home, whether in your hallway, bedroom or bathroom, or elsewhere, it’s simple and affordable to swap them out with something much nicer.
Here are some of my favorite flush mount and semi-flush mount lights to give you a little bit of inspiration! All the semi-flush options I shared below are safe for 8′ and 9′ ceilings.
1 –> Brass and Glass Dome Semi-Flush Mount – WORLD MARKET
2 –> White and Metal Adjustable Semi-Flush Mount – WORLD MARKET
3 –> Natural Wicker and Jute Flush Mount – WORLD MARKET
4 –> Carruthers 15.75” Simple Drum Semi Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
5 –> Oswald 10” Globe Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
6 –> Bell White Flush Mount Light – CB2
7 –> Edie Alabaster Flush Mount Light – CB2
8 –> Lenon Champagne Flush Mount Light – CB2
9 –> Mavis Alabaster Flush Mount Light – CB2
10 –> Dierks 8” Simple Drum Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
11 –> Alger Simple Cone Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
12 –> Ringwood 7.5” Simple Dome Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
13 –> Amirah 13” Simple Globe Semi Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
14 –> Everlee 19” Shaded Drum Semi Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
15 –> Kepner 6” Simple Dome Semi Flush Mount – WAYFAIR
But before we wrap up here, let’s give the boob light a break – it’s been around for a long time and for good reason. Sure, it’s a basic light fixture, but there’s no denying that it gets the job done (at the most basic level of illuminating a room).
Just know that there ARE beautiful, affordable options to the boob light (and lots of them!) if you ever wanted to try something new!
I hope this short guide has given you the confidence to say ‘tata’ to that boob light!
If you do swap your light out, I’d love to see your before and after photos! Tag me on Instagram @poshpennies!