Switching Out The Bathroom Light (Twice)

Let’s talk about a not so quick fix. Between patio building and kitchen makeover-ing, Sherry and I like to “treat” ourselves to a few quick and easy projects that keep the ol’ morale up and allow us to catch our breath (so we don’t burn out or throw things at each other). And one fast & easy job that we’ve had planned for a while was swapping out the fixture in our guest bathroom for something more us.

There was nothing particularly wrong with what was there, per se – but it was a bit more traditional than we’d pick ourselves (so we figured donating it to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore would give it a second life while we upgraded to something that felt more our style). At first we considered just replacing the shades for a quick mini makeover, but the big and chunky back plate (which was as wide as the fixture itself) wasn’t really doing it for us either.

Here’s a more straight on shot of it, which was impossible to take without getting my whole body in the mirror. On the other hand, if I had just removed my shirt I could have done my dead-ringer Jacob From Twilight impression (note: to those unfamiliar with my shirtless physique, this is a joke).

Anyway, back to our lighting situation. Here’s the new light that we picked up at Lowe’s a few weeks back. It’s one of those fixtures where you can choose from an assortment of covers to sort of “customize” the look. We’ve always been fans of seeded glass, so Sherry snagged these two covers (which are more seeded and textured than this photo really depicts). The total was around $25.

First I had to remove the old fixture. Which was clearly very tightly affixed to the wall. Not. After removing just one of the glass covers the entire thing tipped sideways from the weight of the remaining cover. Awesome.

Anyways, it came off smoothly and I was left with this beautiful site:

Did I mention I turned off the breaker to the entire house before I started? That’s how Captain Careful rolls.

Attaching the new fixture was nothing special – I just connected a few wires (I usually just mimic how the old fixture was connected, taking note as I remove it and duplicating the setup with the new one). Once the fixture was wired and screwed into the wall (about a five minute process), I eagerly readied the wall for its debut. I scrubbed off some of the marks from the old light…

… and screwed on our favorite part of the new light: the seeded glass bulb covers that Sherry picked out separately for a little flair (you could pick from frosted, clear, seeded, and even colored or fluted options).

But when we stepped back and looked at it, something was off. Do you see what we saw?

All we could focus on was how giant and incredibly conspicuous those plastic threads were above the bulb thanks to the choice of the seeded glass cover.

Some of you might think we’re crazy for fixating on that, but it was totally bothering us that the sleek brushed nickel fixture and charming seeded glass covers were interrupted by those big bands of plastic. To us, it made the whole thing look kinda cheap (even though it kinda was, we didn’t want it to look that way). So we were bummed because we otherwise liked how it looked (and briefly considered trying to paint them silver to match but decided that we didn’t want to settle).

Sure frosted covers could have solved the problem, but the whole draw of this fixture was that we could go with the seeded covers that we love (we had one hanging above our kitchen sink in the old house so I guess we were feeling sentimental). Not wanting to stop short of a fixture that we 100% loved, we darted back out to a few lighting places to find a replacement.

This time we had a new direction in mind (anyone else think of Glee when I said “new direction”?). Having been inspired by Lady Bower’s new bathroom fixtures and some of the exterior ones that we already have (seen here and here), we thought we’d go for something a bit more industrial slash retro. The guest bathroom already has that vibe going on with the vintage yellow tile and the old school floating sink anyway. So this is what we came home with, courtesy of the outdoor lighting section of Home Depot (for 29 beans):

With new light in hand, it was time for take two of our light fixture replacement adventure. Which, of course, started by undoing our first attempt and carefully repackaging it so we could return it. And getting a “take two” hand signal from the wife in the mirror.

At this point the scene outside of the bathroom was starting to look a bit like this:

Another 5-or-so minutes later, this puppy was up and the power was back on.

I know he looks a little funny since the rest of the room is so unfinished. But our new light actually gets us excited to let the industrial-ish vibe inspire some other choices in the bathroom (we still need some art, paint on the walls, and possibly a mirror tweak among a few other touches to make it all come together).

Plus, how’s this for a nice bonus? The glass cover is seeded glass. We didn’t even know that from looking at the display in the store or the picture on the box. Total bonus. Like it was meant to be or something.

Actually, speaking of the glass cover – the one thing we weren’t so sure about was the wire “cage” around it. We thought it was kinda cool, but maybe a bit too industrial for our comfort zone at the moment.

So we decided to take it off – just for the time being (since it easily snaps into place – or out of place if you want to remove it).

For now, we think we prefer it the cageless way, but who knows how we’ll feel down the line as we bring more art/paint/accessories into the room and it really starts to take shape. We’re definitely only about 2% done in here. More to come.

And thus ends the tale of our not-so-quick, quick fix. All in all I think it took us around three hours (driving included) so it wasn’t that bad. But we thought it was going to be one of those five minute things. Of course it probably would’ve been a little faster had I not been taking pictures of myself in the mirror every five seconds. Look, I put a filter on this one. You know, because everything looks more gangster with a filter on it.

And yes I am wearing my Dr. Pepper shirt. How you like me now?

Have you guys ever had projects that were supposed to be quick turn into a little something more? Don’t you hate climbing back into the car to grab something that you never anticipated needing? Does your grandma have a sugar bowl that reminds you of the original shades of the fixture that we replaced?

Mine and Sherry’s both totally do.


  1. Michele Daggar says

    You guys are making me tired just reading. What with all the painting and whatnot, I’d have taken at least a week off from DIY!!!! Maybe that’s why you guys are so fantastically successful and I sit on my butt living vicariously through your blog.

    Anywho, love the Glee reference. By the way John, my 14 year old son just got the Sprite shirt (and a purple Fanta shirt.) You are as cool as any freshman in high school!!!

    P.S. i like the light with the cage!

  2. bridget b. says

    favorite line of this post: “You know, because everything looks more gangster with a filter on it.”

    followed closely by:”And yes I am wearing my Dr. Pepper shirt. How you like me now?”


    as far as “easy” projects turning into total time sucks, that would be just about every project that i take on! i guess i’m not particularly handy or maybe i just have bad luck. but they make it look so simple on DIY network and i hate spending extra money on things that i can (theoretically) do myself.

  3. Leah says

    Love the change. My fiance and I found a fixture for our guest bath at Lowes this weekend. We got it way marked down because it was already on clearance because it was being discontinued. It was the display fixture so we got 10% off and then they couldn’t find the box! So we got an additional 10% off. So our 80 dollar five-light fixture only ended up costing around $17! Score. We just need to put it up… Your fixture looks awesome though. Never thought of using an outdoor fixture for inside. Love it.

  4. says

    It looks wonderful! I would have never been brave/clever enough to think of putting an outside light in a bathroom. But I think you might have opened up a whole new world of decorating.

  5. says

    I am LOL at this entire post!! You have given me a great idea with the industrial looking light! I love that (you may see it on pinterest soon).

    My quick project that turned not so quick was building our raised garden bed. I went to the hardware store and got the materials remembering I had screws at home and didn’t get extra. Got home, started building the bed and realized we needed more screws. Went back to the hardware store to get more screws. Got home, and realized I had the wrong screws (whomp whomp). Back to hardware store and got CORRECT screws. Back home, finished bed and put it in place. Then began to fill raised bed. Not enough compost (whomp whomp!). Back to hardware store for more compost. FINALLY about a week into my afternoon project we finished the raised bed. Totally worth it. The second one took only a fraction of the time. We were totally ready by then. lol

  6. Christin says

    I love the fixture you ended up with and kind of hope you try it with the cage again once you do more with the room. John, I noticed your Dr. Pepper shirt right away and think it’s awesome. I’m not a Pepper fan, but my husband is and he definitely has that same shirt. Rock on.

    • Christin says

      On a completely unrelated to this post note, don’t you guys have a Flip video camera? I think I remember you saying you do. If so, what do you think of it? My hubby and I are thinking of getting one.

  7. says

    My whole house seems to be filled with the should be quick fixes but they aren’t issue. Here’s an example… http://thependletonhouse.blogspot.com/2011/06/mail-slot.html … filling in the mail slot for a sleaker, more “us” look. And the fact that we are trying to keep as much air inside our house and fixing all the leaks that an 80+ year old house has! We had a towel shoved in for years until my wonderful dad spent HOURS filling in what should have taken way less than that! And it’s not even done… I haven’t been able to paint because we don’t have a screen/storm door yet and we want to take off the hinges, sand, and then paint. BTW, I like the light with the cage off too. :)

  8. Michelle says

    Hey guys,

    Love your blog and have been following your home improvements for about a year now. An American currently living in the UK, I had the unfortunate experience of being told by my English professor that I had flicked him off by giving the 2 finger, back-of-the-hand-facing-out, peace sign. I was mortified, of course. Since you had two in this post, I thought it might be good to know if you have a wide English readership!


  9. says

    I totally know what you mean about needing to keep your moral up. My husband and I bought our house just 2 years ago and it is project after project and the big ones bog you down!

  10. says

    The plastic thing would bug me too. Also, good call on removing the cage for now but I hope in the end it makes sense to put it back. I will be curious to see what changes get made to the rest of the room that push it into cage appropriate territory.

  11. Sarah says

    Great post! I haaaaaaaate having to go back to the store…and so does my hubby so, instead of “discussing” for half an hour over who has to drive back – we determine the “chosen one” by a good old fashioned game of rock, paper, scissors. (I’m on a hot streak ;) )

  12. says

    I was just going to say, that light is the same one we used for our bathroom renovation!! Got one at the ReStore and purchased a new one at the Depot! Great minds think alike!!

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