Illuminating

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July 8, 2013 by drandmrso

Light fixtures are strange things. They can do so much to change the feel of a space by becoming an artistic focal point or simply receding into the background. They almost single-handedly set the ambiance for a room, especially at night. The size, style, number of bulbs…….

This was the point in my speech where Dr. O’s eyes glazed over.

Which, actually, was a good thing. It meant I had free reign over changing out the light fixture in the dining area of our kitchen (seen below).

The light fixture as we found it.

The light fixture as we found it.

While there was nothing wrong, per se, about this fixture, it just isn’t my taste. A little too scrolly, a little too fake alabster-y, and a lot too visible-light-bulb-y (I don’t see the point of having a light fixture if you can see all of the light bulbs—it’s like wearing a saran-wrap dress). So while I tackled the smaller kitchen updates like hanging my Grandma’s tea towels on the wall:

Love them!

Love them!

And hanging new curtains over the sliding door:

Light, airy, lovely.

Light, airy, lovely.

I hunted high and low for a light fixture that was better suited to my requirements:

1. No visible light bulbs

2. No chains (I don’t care for that look, either)

3. Had to be able to hang on an angled ceiling

Finding one fixture to meet these three needs proved quite challenging. And holy schmoly balls, light fixtures are so expensive! $200 for a decent piece? Who knew? I was just about to throw in the towel and recruit an electrically-minded friend to help me build one, when I happened across this beauty at Ikea:

Electric + Candles + No Chain = Love

It was love at first light. And it was only $50! Let me repeat: $50! That is unheard of. Seriously. I did a little happy dance at Ikea…but I think actually a lot of people do that…right?

I bought it about a month back, so come Saturday I was ready to get down with my bad self and finally get that thing installed. Dr. O and I cracked open our Home Improvement 1-2-3 book, which rated installing a light fixture a difficulty level of 3 out of 5 starts (gulp) and got to work. And when I say “got to work,” I mean we read the article several times thoroughly to make sure we knew what the heck we were doing, and then, realizing that our safety goggles had mysteriously gone AWOL, donned a pair of surgical glasses (him) and sunglasses (me) and then really got to work.

DISCLAIMER: Do not use only these steps to install your own light fixture. I am not an electrician. I’m just briefly describing what I did. To do this yourself, find a reliable source with much more detailed steps or hire a professional, okey dokey?

Step 1: cut the power. This is obviously very important. Fortunately the previous owners of the house (or maybe the builder?) left extremely detailed notes on the circuit breaker so that part was easy peasy.

Step 2: remove old fixture. This was trickier than we expected. Dr. O worked from the top of the ladder while I held the chandelier from below (hello arm workout!). The wires from the box in the ceiling actually snaked all the way down through to the base of the chandelier, and the top part that touches the ceiling was screwed on. All of this to say: while Dr. O unscrewed the whole fixture from the ceiling, I ended up getting pretty dizzy spinning the whole thing from below.

Step 3: Call your dad. This was necessitated by the fact that we failed to observe which wire from the ceiling (two brown, one copper) had been connected to which wire in the old fixture (one black, one white, one copper). The new fixture also has one black, one white, and one copper. The copper one was easy: it’s the grounding wire and we found its pair in the new fixture without much issue. But which of the brown wires from the ceiling was supposed to attach to the black wire or white wire in the new fixture? I pointed out that we should have labeled them before disconnecting the whole thing, but hindsight is 20/20 after all. So while Dr. O was catching up with his parents, I re-read the article in the book. And low and behold I found the answer in a tiny little blurb on the side of the page! Apparently the neutral wire (white wire) has a ribbed casing. See the difference?

Left is neutral.

Left is neutral.

I gestured excitedly to Dr. O that we didn’t need his dad’s expertise after all! Oh, joys of home improvement, what a thrill. After that it was smooth sailing: the Ikea fixture was up in a matter of fifteen minutes and all of the furniture put back into place after a quick sweep. What do you think?

Take that, three-star project.

Take that, three-star project.

Kitchen fully updated: new art on the wall, new curtains, new fixture. And, exhale...

Kitchen fully updated: new art on the wall, new curtains, new fixture. And, exhale…

It’s not quite as bright as the old fixture, but I’m still so, so thrilled with the end result. It gives off a nice warm glow. And how romantic will it be to light some candles in the chandelier?! The only thing left to do is figure out a better solution for the fixture wire. It’s wrapped around the base right now because it’s so long, and it looks a little silly. But with the light fixture exchange 98% complete, Project Update Kitchen is officially a wrap.

How about you? What home improvement accomplishments have given you eg0-boosts lately? Any interesting safety goggle fashion statements happening at your house?

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Dr. O is an otorhinolaryngology resident. Mrs. O was an English major and is easily grossed out by blood and guts. This is the blog where Mrs. O documents their adventures in (not bloody) detail. Enjoy!

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