Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let there be lights

In general I love the color choices that were made by the builder in our new house. Dark wood floors, wrought iron, darker glazed cabinetry, warm-colored walls. Overall it was a refreshing change from the plain white walls, white carpets, and medium-toned maple of many of the newer houses that we looked at. 

There is room for improvement, though.  The day we first saw the house, I cringed a few light fixtures. There were three lights with yellow glass in one hallway, a matching fan in the master bedroom, and I swear the dining room chandelier is supposed to hang in the breakfast room.  We have been slow to make changes because we are still paying on the other house (yes still), so replacing brand new light fixtures with different brand new light fixtures is kinda low on the priority list.

When we were spiffing up the old house last year, we replaced a few lights and re-finished a couple more to change out some of the shiny brass that we put in when the house was originally built.(*) So recently we were at the other house for some errand (probably related to the baseball sized hail, or else the various bird attacks, not sure which), and I had a revelation.

We had, in that garage, three small round ceiling lights, completely unused. They're what I call "boob lights", because of the shape. Fairly normal lights, nice white frosted glass.  Despite their shiny brass, I actually like the lights. Hey, I did pick them out. And not only did we have three, but one was still brand-new-in-box. We managed to miscount when the house was being built and the builder had nowhere to install it.

Three lights. Whose glass and shape I like. I have three lights in my new house whose shape is OK but whose glass is a gawd-awful mottled yellow that makes the light look dim (my eyes and yellow light do NOT get along). And we know how to refinish light fixtures.

One $7 can of Rustoleum paint-plus-primer spray in Venetian Bronze, and we went from:


Beautiful, if I do say so myself.  Which I shouldn't as my husband actually did all the hard work both painting them and installing them.  (My apologies if they are a bit hard to really see on the dark countertop--sorry. Photographing them installed on the ceiling is even harder--too much light with them turned on, too little with them off).

(*) When we were building our last house, I wanted antique brass light fixtures. I was very very sure that I wanted antique brass fixtures throughout the house. The builder's "lighting allowance" was all of $300 for 3300 square feet of house--4 ceiling fans, 5 bathroom vanity lights, kitchen island, kitchen sink, hallways, dining room chandelier, breakfast room fan, entry way, etc. That silly lighting allowance would not have afforded a single ceiling fan at the overpriced store they sent us to, let alone enough lights for the whole house. And asking for antique brass involved special order. As in, minimum $100 each for a basic "boob light".

Don't get me started on how they gouged us on light bulbs (seriously? $6 each? For a 50cent incandescent? Did I mention that the builder told us that we had no choice in the matter? I know better now...).

After the sticker shock wore off, I decided I could live with cutting our bill down to about a quarter of the original estimate by choosing shiny brass over the antique look (and by buying and installing our own ceiling fans after we moved in).  I never was happy with that color, and by the time we moved out, there were few original light fixtures left in the place. (I never got to changing out shiny brass door knobs, though I'd priced out new ones several times...)

Funny how that worked out so well for the new house.


Kathy G said...

Very cool!

Inquiring minds want to know--Did you have to do anything to remove the finished from the polished brass fixtures before you sprayed them? (Which is a totally selfish question; I have polished brass fixtures all over my house that need to be replaced.)

Kristi Lea said...

We didn't do anything to the existing brass finish except make sure it wasn't dusty. You can buy separate paint and primer, which is how we turned a couple of other fixtures into "brushed nickel" in the old house. We also painted a bunch of white plastic switchplates and outlet covers to give them the brushed nickel look--replaced a few with real metal ones too for the switches that are really visible and get a lot of use.

The can we grabbed this time was a paint and primer in one. The photo really doesn't do that venetian bronze color justice--it has a lovely luminescence to it. I have no idea how the finish would hold up to something like a door knob or something that gets touched a lot. But for me, even if these lights only last a handful of years instead of decades, it was a great choice.

Bethany said...

Looks great!