All posts tagged: lighting

Bathroom Light


So remember back in November when we did a super quick, super intense, super kick-ass makeover of Max’s childhood bedroom? And we bought that rad 1920s light fixture that totally made the room?

Yeah. Well. I might have omitted some important info that I have now chosen this moment to reveal.

That light was actually one of a PAIR. They were only being sold as a set, but at $150 for both, it wasn’t exactly a huge investment to just go for it even if we only really wanted one.  Surely we could figure out a place to put another gorgeous light fixture, right?

I’ve been down this road before. A few times. Hence this post, where I explain all the times I’ve charmingly rationalizationed and ended up with an absurd lighting hoard that I’m slowly trying to whittle down by just hanging lights all over the place. This strategy is working moderately well, so I’m sticking with it.


But I decided without even that much waffling (look at me! making decisions with ease!) that this light would be awesome in the bathroom, and it totally is. It works for a lot of the same reasons it worked in Max’s bedroom. The small size of the room matches well with the scale of the fixture, making a small-ish light look like a big, substantial, amazing light. Additionally, super dark walls make the white glass pop like BLAM. Chrome-y bits be shiny like WOAH. These are all technical design terms that are helpful to know FYI.


The best thing about the light in the bathroom is that our medicine cabinet is so tall that the light fixture reflects off the mirror and almost gives the illusion that we have TWO great lights. That is, if you’re easily confused by mirrors or otherwise just kind of dumb. Luckily, I am both of these things.


Just check out that glass situation on the bottom! I kind of get lost in how pretty it is sometimes. I know that this art deco style isn’t really in line with the style of the rest of my apartment, but that doesn’t bother me. I always think bathrooms are perfect places to let loose a little bit and make choices that are a little different from the rest of your home. It’s nice to walk into a tiny bathroom and be pleasantly surprised by an element of the space, and I think that’s totally what this fixture does. The DIY’d fixture that was there before was totally cute and fine, but it just wasn’t very interesting or exciting.

Before hanging this fixture, I took the whole thing apart and washed all of the pieces individually in the sink. For the metal bits, I used Barkeeper’s Friend, which made the chrome look absolutely incredible and shiny and new. For the glass, I just used regular dish soap and water, and it was really worth it. Nothing looked that dirty to begin with, but it’s always amazing how a little cleaning can take something to the next level of amazing. I experience the same general revelation whenever I decide to take a shower.

I’ll shut up about the light fixture. It’s beautiful, I’m very happy with it, and I have a very weak spot for art deco and I maybe need more deco pieces in my life.


Max bought some flowers for the bathroom because on Sunday they aired a Beyonce concert on TV and we had a bunch of people over to watch it. So weird because the concert was super short and then this football game broke out and I totally lost interest. At least we had flowers?


In case you follow the central dramas of my relationship as closely as I do, I figure it’s pertinent to note that I HAVE WON THE BATHMAT DEBATE. After about a year with no bathmat, we went several months with this wooden bathmat before it got moldy and smelly and weird and put in the garbage. Max has, historically, hated bathmats and found them to be gross and in poor taste, whereas I associate having no bathmat with, like, lazy douchebag bros who can’t enjoy the finer things in life, such as smelling OK or clothing made of natural fibers or not stepping out of a shower directly onto cold tile.

This war raged for so very long and was so hard-fought and just when I thought I had no life left in me and I would be forced to accept a bathmat-less existence, Max came around. Angels sang. It was all very dramatic and theatrical, as you can imagine.

Ultimately, my victory was hard-won, and I absolutely deserve all the joy that this plush, sufficient-looking bathmat from Target can offer. It really feels great underfoot and it’s nice to finally feel like a civilized human again after this relationship has turned me into such a goddamned monster.

Turns out it’s very washable and dries nicely in the dryer, too. I know this because Linus took the liberty of testing out its wee-wee pad potential right after I took the photos. I always thought Linus was on my side here (more plush surfaces = more places to nap), but I guess the proof is in the piss, as it were.


Little traitorous bastard. Now the internet knows your shame.

ps—you can find my last Design*Sponge post here, if you’re interested: Cleaning Vintage Enamelware
pps—oh, shit, it’s Homies time again. you can vote for me if you want, I won’t stop you or try to get in the way or anything.

New Hallway Light!

When I set about redoing the hallway a while ago, the biggest point of uncertainty was always the lighting. We started out with matching boob lights throughout, and that just wasn’t going to work in the long haul. The ceilings are nine feet high and the hallway is only a couple feet wide, so having flush-mount overhead fixtures just made the whole space feel really tall and narrow and goofy. I knew I wanted to drop the lighting a bit with pendant fixtures, but I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money or have a bunch of mismatched vintage fixtures. So, for a total of about $60 for all four, I crafted up these guys and called it a day.


These lights are great, but after a while I wanted something a little bigger in the entryway by the front door. It’s the first space you see when you walk into the apartment, and this type of light just felt a little too understated and dinky.


It’s REALLY hard to take attractive photos of a space with zero natural light, but trust: this thing looks great. I found this big globe fixture at Salvation Army for $15 (brand new, with all its parts!), and the huge scale is totally perfect. I have a thing for big lighting.


I love that it’s still simple and plays well with my DIY’d fixtures, but satisfies my  need to have something a little bigger and bolder here.


In other news, I’m finally putting some concerted effort into making the top of the fauxdenza nice. I guess. I don’t like when surfaces get cluttered up with stuff or look over-styled, but a little grouping of oh-so-amateur studio pottery never hurt anyone. Plus some billy balls.


Last year, I kvetched about Max’s obsession with all things seasonal and all things scented. Since I convinced him to forego his seasonal gourds nightmare this fall and he finally stopped buying plug-ins, I had high hopes for this holiday season. That was until shortly after Thanksgiving, when Max came home with a sack of fucking pinecones from the grocery store and threw them into bowl by the entry before I had a chance to light them on fire.

Is this what I get for dating goyim? I was NOT warned about this at my Bar Mitzvah.

PINE. CONES. I don’t know what the hell these things are scented with (cancer, probably), but they stink of some weird mix of spices that I guess translates to “Christmas!” in the pathway between Max’s shiksa nose and brain? I can report that they have been persistently smelly for almost two months now and show no signs of letting up. They’ve really rained on the new-light-fixture-parade.


My failed attempt at a counter-attack was putting these brass pinecone candlesticks out. Max thinks they’re tacky (he’s right), but I pledged to leave them as long as the real pinecones are polluting my air and assaulting my nostrils and…it appears we’re locked in a horrible pinecone-y stalemate of doom from which there is no escape or hope. One of us must cave.


I will never cave.

Stopgap Measures in the Kitchen


I’ve never really been a fan of stopgap measures when it comes to renovating and decorating. If I have some sort of grand vision for a space that will take a while to accomplish, it’s just not in my nature to spend any additional time, money, or effort to do anything makeshift of half-assed, or anything that I’ll eventually have to undo, thereby creating more work for myself down the road. If it isn’t directly in the service of the final goal, you can usually count me out.

This is why I’m more or less OK with living in squalor, as long as there’s a bright beacon of hope somewhere in the distance. As long as I get from Point A to Point B at some point, what does it matter how things look in the interim?

But what I’ve found in the kitchen is that it does matter. Each additional thing I’ve decided to do to it requires hours of work, not to mention added expenses, and after a year and a half, I just got totally tired of cooking and living in a space that just felt so rag-tag and unfinished, particularly after all the work I had put into making it better (like replacing and adding cabinets).

So, one weekend several weeks ago (camera troubles delayed this post a while, sorry!), I just decided to pull my shit together and do everything that I could do for the kitchen without dropping a bunch of money. I knew that some of the work would only make an appreciable difference in the short term and I’d be spending a little extra money and effort, but it just got to a point where that felt very worth it.


The biggest issue, aesthetically, was this back wall behind the stove. After removing and replacing the upper cabinets, the wall had this big unpainted section and tons of holes, and it didn’t help that at some point I decided to tack stuff to the wall just to…fill the space? I don’t know why I did that. Also, when I painted the rest of the kitchen, I left this wall unpainted because I ran out of paint and figured that some of it would eventually be covered in tile, anyway, so there wasn’t too much point in worrying about it. But one can only live with greasy seafoam green paint for so long before it starts to wear on you. This kitchen has been through some seriously sad times under my care.

The first order of business was removing the crap on the wall, patching the holes, and finally finishing the painting. I did have to buy a new gallon of paint (Benjamin Moore’s Dove White in matte, from the Aura Bath and Spa line) to make this happen, but FINALLY eliminating the last of the previous tenants’ paint was such a relief. Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough: even if I’d done nothing else, just whiting everything out made the space feel so much bigger, cleaner, and fresher, and it really only took a couple hours from start to finish. Paint really is the easiest and cheapest way to refresh a room.

The other thing was lighting. I had a plan for the lighting AND the lights themselves, so I figured I might as well hang them already and stop moping about how bad the lighting was in the kitchen. Having a good lighting plan goes a really long way toward making a kitchen feel more functional and finished, and I was tired of the two existing overhead lights that were super unflattering and made the kitchen feel overly sterile and prison-like.


First, I replaced both of the overhead fixtures with these vintage lights that I bought in Buffalo over the summer at a weird yard sale. They were only $5 each, and I liked that they were kind of boring and understated, but a style that would play well with the dramatic pendants. Since the pendants are such a big presence in the room, I didn’t want anything that might compete.


And then there were these lights. You might remember them from this post a while back. I bought them when Max and I were up in Buffalo in June, 2011 (OMG, SHAME), with absolutely zero plan of where I’d use them. They were $50 a piece, but even underneath all the dirt and grime, I could tell they were super amazing and something I’d keep for a long time, so I went for it. I love the detail work and substantial nature of the vintage hardware, and you can’t really go wrong with vintage industrial enamel. Right?

Only one of the lights had its original cage, which was a little bit too industrial and creepy for my taste, so I opted to discard it. After a good cleaning, both lights basically looked brand new, so all that was left to do was rewire and hang! Easy! So I put them in an awkward pile on top of the fridge for the time being.

And there they sat for a good year and a half (give or take a couple months), which I spent waffling over exactly where and how to hang them. There was something very intimidating about deciding on mounting hardware, the mechanics of rewiring (and wiring into the existing ceiling boxes), and picking the chain to suspend them from, so I just avoided it altogether. Eventually, I talked the whole thing out with an Ace Hardware employee and MADE. IT. HAPPEN.


I was a little worried that the scale would be totally out of control in the space, but I LOVE them. They’re a little unexpected and make a huge visual impact, and I think they’re just really beautiful as objects.


The chain is a basic thick steel chain from Ace, which I was able to cut to size using my little Dremel tool after figuring out exactly how low I wanted the lights to hang. I probably could have figured this out before going to the hardware store and saved myself some work (and waste), but I’m dumb.


Because these lights are super heavy and I wasn’t able to screw them into studs, I bought these heavy-duty 1/4″ toggle anchors. The anchor is inserted through a hole I drilled in the ceiling, which a big washer covers, and then a nut keeps it in place. (Here’s a really good video on how toggle bolts work if that’s confusing!)


After hanging the lights, I just threaded the clear plastic wire up the chain and across the ceiling to the ceiling box. These flush-mount fixtures happen to have a hole in them for cord to run through already, so this part was pretty simple. I’m still not totally sure how to deal with the exposed wire running across the ceiling, but I think I’ll probably end up using some kind of cord channel and just painting it with ceiling paint.


Again, the whole thing took an hour or two, and all the hardware only cost me about $20.


After replacing all the lighting, I figured I might as well go whole-hog and hang this 4′ steel ledge I ordered from CB2 a while ago. Even though I’ll have to take it down when I get around to tiling the backsplash, it was really nice to finally get it out of its box and throw it on the wall to get an idea of how it would look and function when the kitchen is done. Originally, I’d planned to do a wood shelf here (and maybe a bit deeper), but according to code, nothing flammable can be within 30″ above the stove, so steel was really the only safe option. The ledge has been awesome for getting some stuff off the counter, and I think it looks pretty good, too!


I have a second ledge, too, but it needs to be cut down before it can be hung (and an even surface to hang on), so that’ll have to wait. It’s going to be so awesome though.

The pendants have 40W bulbs in them, which are beautiful and bright and light up this whole prep/stove area super well.

And oh look! I also finally got my ass over to IKEA to buy two lousy hinges so that I could finally hang the last door on the new cabinets.


Oh, and I finally hung up this little porcelain hook I bought a year ago. It’s so cute! It took no work! I don’t think this is where it will be in the long run, but it’s nice to have it up and  serving a purpose.


I’m by no means done with the kitchen, but getting it to this point was really exciting. I finally don’t feel like I have to apologize for it when people come over, and it just feels so much happier and more efficient and pulled together. It’s finally actually nice to cook in, and consequently we’ve been cooking more (and better!) food.

Now I just need to finish it. GULP.

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.

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