Allow me to explain myself

I think it’s about time to come clean about something. Over the past year and a half, give or take, I’ve developed a little problem.

I can’t stop buying lighting. Including the hallway, there are nine opportunities for hardwired fixtures in this apartment, and thus far I’ve replaced all of them. Which does not explain why, when I gathered all the others out of their hiding places today, I also have NINE lights that aren’t doing jackshit.

The problem is, lights are pretty easy to change and pretty easy to buy. Next time you’re in a thrift store or flea market, look up! I bet there are light fixtures strung up from the ceiling, collecting dust. Light fixtures just don’t sell very well, so prices tend to be low and I guess I might have bought one or two. Or, you know, nine, whatever.

Some of them I have plans for. Some of them I do not. Some of them need to be rewired. I’m a mess.

I know there isn’t anything super special about these, but that’s kind of what I like about them? Cute matching pair of 40s (?) milk glass lights with sketchy old wiring bits, some paint around the base, one of the shades cracked (but still in one piece) down the middle?

Normally I guess I’d pass, but I dragged Max to this yard sale last time we were in Buffalo, and we got lost, and by the time we got there and drove by, it looked bad anyway. He opted to stay in the car, so I ran up and looked over all the old toys and shit and then BOOM. LIGHTS. A pair of cute lights. For $5. FIVE. DOLLARS. FOR BOTH.

They need new wiring, but that probably adds, what, $10 to the cost? So two nice vintage lights for $15? Not bad. And I actually know what I’m going to do with them, so it’s really not bad. It’s actually great. Except that they’ve been in a box for, oh, 3 months now.

You’ve already seen this if you read my Scandinavia posts, but I’ll just remind you anyway. We bought this faux PH-Lamp thing at a thrift store in Stockholm for $7. Of course, disassembling the whole thing and carrying around all the pieces for the rest of the trip was kind of a drag, but faux PH-Lamp? With brassy bits? For $7? Needed it.

I have no idea what to do with this thing. I want it to be mine, but where does it go? It really doesn’t fit the kitchen plan, and it’s not a good light for the bedroom or bathroom, and would be weird in the hallway. I liked the idea of putting it in the living room, but Max vetoed.


I still want it.

What if I move? What if I need it someday? What if I get rid of it and I cry forever and my body completely dehydrates and I shrivel into an empty, lifeless sack of leathery skin? ANGUISH.

I went and bought this thing on, oh, maybe like 6 months ago? It’s all a blur. It’s by Ross Menuez, produced by Areaware, but NEWFLASH it’s now on crazy crazy sale at Urban Outfitters. Maybe you’ll buy one too and we can wallow together about how we’re terrible at making decisions and following through on hanging the lights we buy? I actually think I know what I’m doing with this one, too, it just hasn’t happened yet because, I mean, you know already. I suck.

I’m actually tempted to buy a second one. Somebody sedate me. FUCK.

I like this light because of the awesome icosahedron shape, obviously, but it’s also nice because it gives a super, super warm light through the felt material to counteract the cool light of death that CFL bulbs give off. I hate CFL’s but I can totally deal with one in this. Doing my part for the environment! Kind of.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? This is just a boring hanging globe pendant, because why not? My goal is to get this hung today, by the way, which is looking less and less promising the more time I spend procrastinating online.

Also, I have reasons:

1. IKEA doesn’t make the FADO light anymore, and I don’t like that thing that replaced it.

2. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s actually a GREAT scale. Larger than the FADO, size-wise it’s what I really want out of a plain boring white globe.

3. These things are actually expensive, I think, and I’m no mathematician but I’m pretty sure the $15 I paid at Salvation Army isn’t about to be beat by any new retail price. So it was cheap? Great, I officially should not be allowed to be treated as an adult.

4. I know EXACTLY what I want to do with it. And I think I’ve owned it less than a month, so that’s not even so bad, especially when compared with the rest of my track record.

And then there’s this guy. My dear friend Maya (of perfect shelves and flawless style fame) gave this to me as part of a super secret late-night clandestine furniture bartering scheme a little while ago. I mean, it looks like a crazy chrome witch’s hat and I want all of that in my life. But where does it go? Same problem as the PH.

Need more rooms.

OK, THESE. These bad bitches I’m excited about. I bought them because they’re obviously amazing huge old enamel industrial lights. They are HUGE. I also bought these in Buffalo, last summer.

No, not the summer that just ended. The one before that. In JUNE. OF 2011.

Shame spiral.

At the time, they looked like this shitshow, and even at $50 a piece, which is usually kind of a splurge for me, were a total fucking steal. You can tell this picture is old because it’s from before the traumatic instagram filter updates (which we all got over, finally) and the picture only got 1 “like.” Big up, IAMRYANJAMES.

BUT SERIOUSLY. These lights will MAKE my kitchen (I hope). And look how fancy they cleaned up? Thus is the power of Magic Erasers.

They obviously need new wiring but I think I’ve figured that out AND a way to actually hang these heavy beasts, so things are looking up. Fingers crossed I can get these up before I move or the world ends or whatever, because I need to be right about these lights and not let more than a year of shuffling them around in the apartment (currently, they sit in a pile on top of the fridge, which is what I would call CLA$$Y) be spent in vain. They must be worth my struggle, otherwise life is meaningless and everything is forever terrible.

So I was going to wait to reveal this when it’s actually wired up in my apartment, but who KNOWS when that might happen and I don’t want it to be un-purchasable by then. What we have here is the West Elm Long Arm Chandelier, in black, duh, which I impulse bought a couple weeks ago because the black finish is inexplicably on mad sale for $129, down from $299. I haven’t even opened the box yet, so I can’t speak to the quality, but I like the way this thing looks and Max is in love with it and so we made it ours.

I like lights. Don’t let me buy any more lights unless I beg really hard and promise to get rid of two in its place. Enough of this madness.

OK, I’m going to go try to not get electrocuted.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 10.5.12
    Chris said:

    I, too, like lights,but they scare me. I know nothing of this wiring and how to hang things, hence we only have lamps and flush-mounted ceiling lights. Oh the shame.

  2. 10.5.12
    kory said:

    hoarding indeed! But I get it, a good light-thingy is too hard to leave alone…

  3. 10.5.12
    amanda said:

    thanks for helping me feel less crazy. I spend large portions of my weeekends browsing eBay, etsy and cl for lamps and light fixtures. not to mention the regular stops at my local thrifting spots. clocks. it’s pretty bad. but now I am so much more confident about my crazy lighting clock radio thing. thanks much.

  4. 10.5.12
    anne said:

    I have no less than 27 small bowls that serve no purpose whatsoever other than decoration. Everyone has their “thing”.

  5. 10.5.12
    Samantha said:

    The Ross Menuez light is fantastic and I think it would make my life complete. Maybe I need to become a light fixture hoarder.

  6. 10.5.12
    Christina said:

    It’s ok to stockpile- you never know when you will move into a bigger place. If and when you do, you would be kicking yourself for not sucking it up and dragging that PH lamp look alike all over Stockholm.
    On another note- those industrial lights look great… love a good clean up project.

  7. 10.5.12
    Jill said:

    I am OBSESSED with lights…lighting is the first thing I look at when I go to a restaurant. :)

  8. 10.5.12
    Colin said:

    I MUST have that West Elm light! No matter I’m traveling right now and my ceilings back at home are only 8 feet high. We can make it work. Right? Maybe I’ll just hoard her in my closet until we buy that lake house in PA with 15′ ceilings.

  9. 10.5.12
    Leo said:

    Long time stalker, first time commenter here.

    You are truly evil for linking to that ICOSA sale. I’m now about to cave and order two of them. We can soon wallow together about how we’re terrible at making decisions and following through on hanging the lights we buy. I probably won’t hang them for AT LEAST 7 months. ”¦sigh”¦

    • 10.5.12
      Daniel said:

      I’m sorry!! But you should do it. I have dangerous thoughts about two as hanging bedside lights. The box it came in isn’t THAT big ;)

    • 10.5.12
      Leo said:

      EXACTLY. Hanging bedside lights make so much sense anyway”¦so much less clutter”¦room to actually put things on the table”¦and these are so awesome looking on top of it. I am trying to convince myself that it is worth the $100, as that’s what I’d probably spend doing the same thing with some IKEA fixtures.


  10. 10.5.12
    Allison said:

    Question about the Areaware light — does it just plug into a wall, or do you have to have a connection in the ceiling for it? I’m hunting for a pendant that I can just plug into a regular outlet.

    • 10.5.12
      Daniel said:

      Yes, I should have mentioned!! It comes with a plug, so perfect for you. Any light with a plug can be easily converted to hard-wire just by clipping off the plug and exposing the wires, which is what I did.

    • 10.5.12
      Allison said:

      Good to know, thanks! I’m about ready to declare my attempt to make a pendant light myself a total failure, and then I’ll be in the market for one to buy.

    • 10.5.12
      Leo said:

      Hmm”¦if it comes with a plug perhaps one of these is in order. Because, you know, you might as well. For $8.

  11. 10.5.12
    Allie said:

    So, I can totally sympathize with you… however I have an in-excusable excuse… I am a lighting engineer! So, LOVE THOSE LUMINAIRES! And I think your Louis Poulsen PH knockoff should go over a table. ;) Have a great weekend!

  12. 10.5.12
    Mom said:

    Maybe you should find a larger place or maybe you could SELL some lighting. HOARDER.

  13. 10.5.12

    I am always obsessing about light fixtures, and want to change my crappy ny apt. standard boring ones. The Husb is always grumbling that it’s too much work (AKA he has no clue how to do it). Would LOVE to read a tutorial on how to do so without killing/electrocuting/paralyzing myself.

    • 10.5.12
      Daniel said:

      Oh, it’s really easy! Here’s a good youtube video that explains things better than I probably can. Also, I’m kind of afraid to do a tutorial like that just because I KNOW I’ll get all these comments like “FIRE OMG OMG OMG!!!” even if I do things properly. People are seriously crazy about electrical-anything.

      The important stuff to remember is:
      1. Turn off the breakers!
      2. Black wire to black wire, white wire to white wire.
      3. Pretty much any light fixture you’d buy should have installation instructions. Some lights mount differently than others, but as long as you have a standard light box in the ceiling (it would be very, very bizarre if you didn’t), it should be very easy. You can also buy canopies (the part that covers the box in the ceiling, the wires, and holds the light in place) separately, and those have instructions on them as well. They’re usually about 6 or 7 dollars.

      (The only places I differ with the video is that I usually go it alone because that’s how I roll and it isn’t that hard, and using a circuit tester seems like total overkill.)

    • 10.16.12

      If you dare to venture in to lampland and starte doing your own thing my dad showed me this really cool trick that keeps you from going insane when working with fabric covered wire: They say that pictures are worth a 1000 words so I hope that’s enough otherwise google translate is your friend :)

  14. 10.5.12
    Magpie said:

    This Sunday will be the big lamp-hanging-day in our tiny house. We’ve lived here since may but not much has happened in the light-deparment since moving in, and the Norwegian days are getting shorter and shorter so the need is getting kind of big. Four lamps still in their boxes taking up space we don’t really have is also a great incitement… I’m a bit freaked out by wiring and stuff, but we’ll manage, hopefully… so anyway, you have my full understanding, no need to explain! Ans all your lamps are GORGEOUS!! Good luck!

  15. 10.5.12
    Rosie said:

    I love the plain white globe… I’ll buy it for double of what you paid :op I was trying to win one on ebay a little over a year ago… they were ranging in the $100-$150 range. I settled for a Fado table lamp I found at Goodwill for $4…

  16. 10.5.12

    I grew up with those big sphere globes in my brother’s and my room! It was the 80s and my parents where trying to be modern! Of course, they gave it all to goodwill sometime around the year 2000 to change for track lights. And paper lanterns. SIGH.

  17. 10.5.12
    mary said: have made another long time reader come out of stalker mode to comment on this post. I feel like Steve Martin in The Jerk when I go to thrift or antique stores:

    Wow..I just had to stop and answer my door for the fedex man because I NEEDED another piece of art in my home. That’s it just that art piece..and another lamp..and a throw rug..and that’s it.

    I love your blog!! You are an amazing writer and bring a smile to my face every time you post. Thanks.

    • 10.5.12
      mary said:

      oops…sorry. The Jerk clip was SUPPOSED to be the one called “all I need is this”. I don’t know what I did wrong. sorry for this.

    • 10.5.12
      Daniel said:

      Mary, I will watch as many clips of The Jerk as YouTube can provide!! Such a great movie.

    • 10.6.12

      <3 THE JERK <3

  18. 10.5.12

    You’ll love the West Elm light. I snagged it too, couldn’t turn down the sale. I hung it in our dark bedroom because it kind of reminds me of Jenna Lyons’ Brooklyn brownstone:

    The quality is great, I love that the poles can be arranged any direction you want, including the shades pointing up or down. This is super helpful for our bedroom that has the light box in the center of our room versus where the bed actually is.

  19. 10.5.12
    kay* said:

    seriously, i’m on the cusp of a new lighting addiction but i’m trying to put the brakes on it because really…i’m stilly looking for an apartment so i REALLY have no where to put them. heck i don’t even know how many i need! but now that i think about it i may need that west elm one. and there are those two industrial green ones (like your white ones – LOVE) that i just inquired about on craigslist…. le sigh.

    that doesn’t stop me from collecting teak wooden bowls though…big ones small ones. deep ones shallow ones. if you need a teak bowl, i’m you’re gal.

  20. 10.5.12
    Par said:

    The industrial lights are very cool and yay for magic erasers!

  21. 10.5.12
    kelly w said:

    ‘Big up, IAMRYANJAMES.’


    That is all.

  22. 10.5.12
    Madalyn said:

    I can personally testify that your romance with lighting can have life-long consequences: when I analyze my home’s appearance, at times it appears I live in a lighting gallery, an explosion of luminescent baubles of all shapes and sizes. Lately I’ve been trying my hardest to find unity, a theme, some repetition, for God’s sake, among thirty years of collecting.

    The scourge (and thrill) of the aesthetically aware, I’m afraid.

  23. 10.6.12
    Furpants said:

    all of these lights are pretty amazing. Where do you store them? And really, more importantly, how do I get you to decide which of them would be perfect for my dining room?

    • 10.6.12
      Daniel said:

      We have most of them in the kitchen…in the corner…it’s very sad. It’s kind of the last spot in our apartment that’s just a disaster and has just become a place to collect crap. I really, really need to get the kitchen finished, or at least to a better place, so I don’t have any more spots to just throw stuff when I don’t know what to do with it!

  24. 10.6.12
    nicolezh said:

    I like all of them and would keep them for sure- you did some good bargain hunts though. The felt lamp is sooo delicate! Lighting can be so expensive otherwise.
    When it comes to overhead lighting I live with big rice paper bowls as my partner is a kind of “Rice-paper-only for overhead use- Sadaam Huseen” and insists on them. In every room, if possible. First of his eternal unbreakable commandments in decorating.(Second is a stric white wall only policy. Everything else I can do like I want, I could include faux cheetah and girly pink sofas, he wouldn’t mind…).

    But I slowly change the lighting rules in our pad. I included this to the bathroom and can’t wait to include a Issey Miyake lamp for Artemide this winter.

    • 10.6.12
      Nancy said:

      Oooh, that drop lamp you linked to is sexy!

      Love all the lights, especially faux PH-Lamp thing and the industrial lights.

  25. 10.6.12

    Hi there!
    I’m new here, but I already love your blog!!!
    I’m just like you when it comes to lamps… I have a cabinet full of lamps, hmm… or parts of them. Mostly like the ones you have, and I love them, but don’t know where to hang them yet…

    Read that you went to Sweden this summer and not far from me. How fun and I live near Falun!

    Have a great weekend

  26. 10.6.12

    Do I need that West Elm lamp, too? For my dining room? Or should I wait to buy the Orbit chandelier? Or both? Or more?

    • 10.6.12

      Or will it just make me sad that I can never afford David Weeks?

    • 10.6.12
      Daniel said:

      Faux PH Lamp?

    • 10.6.12
      Daniel said:

      Also, you KNOW how I feel about the Orbit.

      But the West Elm one might be nice, too. BUT ORBIT OMG SO NICE.

    • 10.6.12
      Joy said:

      Orbit! Ah, it seriously burns me that I can’t afford one and I know they won’t turn up when thrifting for at least a decade. Go for it, Anna, and let me live vicariously through your lighting choices!

      Also, since you both have blogged about the String 10 lights, how would one replace the bulbs on that and the Orbit? They don’t look like easily accessible bulbs (part of the beauty, alas).

    • 10.6.12
      Daniel said:

      Joy, I don’t think those bulbs are TOO difficult to find at lighting stores (we’re lucky in NYC to have tons of these, with WALLS of weird-size tiny bulbs), but you can also order the replacement bulbs directly from Areaware or probably from an online place like

  27. 10.6.12
    Colleen said:

    No need to explain to me. Lighting makes or breaks a room. Sometimes I see a room in a mag or online and it’s not really my style and then I tilt my head and it hits me … it’s just the lighting of the space that I love. And hello … CFL bulbs … please. And who knew Magic Erasers could work such magic. I’m taking notes.

  28. 10.6.12
    Catherine said:

    So jealous of your high ceilings! Do you have any recommendations for pretty lights that sit much more close to the ceiling?

    • 10.6.12
      Daniel said:

      Schoolhouse Electric makes some really beautiful flush-mount fixtures that are great quality!

    • 10.7.12
      Catherine said:

      Those are lovely. Thanks!

  29. 10.7.12
    bfish said:

    Ha, I have the same lighting/lamp disease as Daniel. I’ve even bought sconces for places where there is no existing wiring in the (plaster) walls so actually being able to ever use them becomes a BFD. And my husband has the same weakness. I guess I’ve been lucky that some of the light fixtures I’ve lusted after on eBay went for more money than I could afford to bid. To make matters worse, even though I’d like to replace some of the light fixtures and lamps we have because I see things I like better, I am still enamored enough with the current ones that I don’t want to let them go!

  30. 10.7.12
    Lena said:

    I am jealous since I think its pretty difficult to find nice, cheap fixtures in Switzerland. The ones I like are usually quite expensive, so I have mainly Ikea.

    • 10.16.12

      If you ever travel check out thrift store or flea markets. I never have problems finding cool lamps here in Denmark but just to show you that you find some even closer to home I’ll share with you my long lost love I found in a thrift store in Berlin:
      oh God I can not believe I had to leave that thing of beauty behind but I simply couldn’t carry any more stuff! (but I really needed that gigantic rubber duck and that medicin cabinet!) At a €70 price tag it made it a little easier to leave behind (mainly because I was out of money) but I still dream of those magnificent glass bubble shades – I’m a little sad now.
      Actually I have had the best of luck on trash day lately. I don’t know how things work in Switzerland but here apartment buildings have storage for your larger pieces of trash like tables, couches and printers (you know stuff that doesn’t fit in a trash can) that’s collected when it’s full but that gives you time to rummage through it and find some real gems. All though remember they usually comes in the rough. I turned this:
      into this:
      I hope it helps :)

  31. 10.7.12
    Joni said:

    We are rennovating a small brick bungalow in NZ and our electrician tried to talk us into downlights, downlights are like vanilla icecream to a person with my obession, he of course did not change my mind!!!

  32. 10.8.12
    Rachel said:

    I have the same problem with vases. Oh gosh its bad… But at least lighting is more practical of an obsession than vases right?

    • 10.8.12
      Daniel said:

      Oh, I also have the vase problem. They’re smaller than the lights though?

    • 10.10.12
      Rachel said:

      Yea good point! I think I need to post some of the vases up on craigslist so I can have room for more. haha

  33. 10.8.12
    sherri said:

    I have the same problem, luckily my father in law is an electrician.

    You forgot to put a photo of your dogs. Seriously. Don’t let it happen again. ;)

  34. 10.8.12
    Patricia said:

    I’m lucky that our landlady kitted our place out with pretty sweet lighting already (our living room has a big old Nelson saucer Bubble lampshade? or a good knock off I guess? unless my landlady is crazy?) so I’ve curbed my habit of late night lighting purchasing and now I just perv over Jo Hammerborg pendants on ebay.

    Chairs, books and plants is another thing entirely of course.

  35. 10.8.12
    thelady said:

    I bought the West Elm chandelier a few weeks ago when I noticed the black was on sale/clearance. I haven’t put it up but in my defense I have an offer on a short sale house. So this is a chandelier for the dining room in the house I do not have under contract yet. Lighting is so expensive that when you see something that is attractive and affordable you just want to jump on it. I’m resisting buying a different chandelier for the potential master bedroom that is on sale, the only thing holding me back is that it is not on clearance.

  36. 10.9.12
    A.M. said:

    Hey, just found your blog and I love it! Keep up the good job. Love your floors and your dogs!

  37. 10.9.12
    Laura said:

    SO…I got the West Elm long arm Chandy too, and I think it looks amazing hung really low over a dining room table, but I hung mine high in the living room hmmmmm and I don’t love it. Something is off the inside of the lamps are white…really white. maybe it needs edison bulbs, maybe If I spray the white under bits gold, or black it just needs something.
    Can’t wait to see how yours looks.

    • 10.9.12
      Daniel said:

      Hmm, I hope ours looks ok! We were planning to face the shades up toward the ceiling. It can’t hang SUPER low but it’s over a coffee table so hopefully kind of low? Low enough that it doesn’t look weird? I’m nervous…but if it doesn’t work at least we have plenty of back-ups!

  38. 10.13.12
    Alice D. said:

    I think you should store these lights in my new apartment…teehee.

  39. 10.16.12

    It’s so nice to know that I’m not alone with my fetich. I started laughing as I was reading you post because of a post I did yesterday. In short I was feeling right chuffed with myself for hanging a trash find within 2 days of hauling it home but reading your post I remembered the picture and realized while the new lamp is hanging pretty the baground of the picture sports no less than 3 lamps that are homeless or needs finishing + the 3 you can’t see sitting on the floor behind the table that I moved to take the picture (in my 480 sq ft apartment). I salute thee Sire for thy ways are wise :D

  40. 10.24.12

    dude, i STILL love those huge enamel shades and hate you/am jealous/having a tanty at the fact that you have them. indeed they cleaned up spectacularly!!

    • 10.25.12
      Daniel said:

      Wait til you see them hung up!! (shhhhh) (you’ll platz) (that’s yiddish)