Blue Light Special

The evening after posting our plans for a mini-update to our master bathroom last Monday, Sherry had us in the car and off to hunt down the blue light fixture in her mood board.

It’s a Shades of Light fixture that we hoped to find at a local lighting outlet called The Decorating Outlet (which is also where we bought the glass pendants over our peninsula, Clara’s capiz chandelier, and the shade that we added around the chandelier in our office).

Sherry was nervous that our luck would run out and they wouldn’t have any in stock – but they actually had not one, but two to choose from. They were half off the original price of $159, so for $80 we were soon headed home with a blue light to take the place of our formerly unglorious boob light (Ballard also sells a similar version for $189, so we were excited about our little outlet find). Still, at 80 beans it’s definitely not the cheapest pendant light we’ve ever bought, but for such an uncommon and cool effect (the seeded blue glass is really amazing in person) we were happy to shell out the dough to make it ours.

Part of the reason that we wanted to replace this flush mount guy with a pendant was so it’d hopefully look less crowded to the shower bar. Have we mentioned this room is tiny? Well it is, which means a fixture that’s centered in the space is pretty close to the shower curtain. Especially since this fixture was extra wide. We knew something with a smaller footprint against the ceiling would help, and that something with translucent glass and a much smaller diameter would lighten things up as well.

Plus, as much as I was determined to discover a new solar system in the light’s swirly glass, we figured bringing in the blue pendant would be a nice shot of color in the formerly “builder basic” room.

Installing new light fixtures is old hat for us by now (we just did three in the kitchen) so we figured we’d have this project knocked out within a few hours. But since clearly we failed to knock on wood or something, we uncovered this mess:

Don’t see it? How ’bout we turn off the power and remove the old fixture so the giant hole in the ceiling can’t be missed?

This obviously wouldn’t jive with the new fixture’s smaller base. Unless of course we were going for that exposed rafters look. So just like that our “install new light fixture” task go bumped below “patch ceiling” on our to-do list. Ah the joys of DIY, right?

On the bright side, we had some leftover drywall in the basement from patching the new opening in the kitchen which meant we didn’t have to run out to the store to get started. So I used a box cutter to slice a piece down to size.

And then broke out a drywall saw to cut out a hole for the fixture box that I measured. It wasn’t the prettiest cut, but it’d do the trick, and the top of the pendant light would cover the hole for the fixture box, hopefully resulting in a nice seamless look.

To secure the patch to the ceiling, first I screwed some scrap wood into the ceiling that would provide a nice firm surface to screw into. One piece of wood went against the beam, while the other got screwed into the existing drywall.

Here’s the new piece of drywall attached and looking all flush and fantastic-like. Except for all the cracks and sunk screw heads (be sure to sink your screw heads when it comes to drywalling!) that we needed to sand, spackle, sand, spackle, sand, prime, and paint.

So I sanded the edges a bit to make sure everything was smooth and there weren’t any weird lumps or bumps in the way of Sherry’s spackle job.

I don’t know how certain tasks got divided in our house to become “mine” or “Sherry’s” (like how I always roll and she cuts in when we paint, and I usually sand but she spackles). I think some of it comes down to skill (Sherry’s has a steadier hand for cutting in and spackling so we have learned she gets better results). And some it just comes down to things we enjoy more than the other (I love using my Kreg Jig while Sherry’s getting on pretty ok terms with her sewing machine). But I wouldn’t put it past her to build something (perhaps a dollhouse for Clara) and who knows, I might just sew something someday.

Anyway, here’s Sherry’s first round of spackle drying:

She did two rounds total (a round being spackling + letting it dry + sanding it with a sanding block) both of which were applied in consecutive evenings after we got the bean to bed. The idea of doing two rounds is that you can build things up with spackle to bridge gaps, sand things flush again, and do one more round to make sure you don’t miss anything (which could result in cavities where spackle was missing or raised portions that weren’t sanded down enough). And using a sanding block is nice because it’s flat like the wall, so it doesn’t flop around like a loose piece of sandpaper can.

So after a night of spackling and sanding, followed by another night of spackling and sanding, we just had to set aside some time to prime and paint. Oh yeah and install the fixture that we originally thought was going to be a ten minute job. So the next night after priming our patch job (any raw drywall should be primed after it’s installed before painting commences) we applied two quick coats of paint (Rockport Gray, as you may recall in this post). We used a roller to get it up there and rolled far beyond the area we had patched, just to feather things out for a nice seamless patch job. By then it was way too late to get any decent pictures since we didn’t have a working light in there, but here’s what it looked like by morning. See how much further the fixture box looks from the shower bar now that there’s not an extra wide light up there encroaching on the shower?

It was finally ready for a new light fixture (the slightly rough area right around the fixture box will be covered by the top of the light for a nice clean look).

Since it was nearly four days since we started, we were more than ready to, in the words of Sherry, get on that already. Oh and here’s the fixture in all of it’s blue glass-y glory. It’s reading as sort of a very bright blue here in these pics, but in real life it looks more like the photo in our mood board above (it’s a soft sea-glass-ish blue that looks great with the white, gray, and sand colors that we have going on in there).

The cord is obviously waaaaay too long for our bathroom, so we had to cut it down before installing it. I used my scissors to put some slices in the outer white cord where I wanted the wires to end – I didn’t cut all of the way through since I wanted the inner wires to stick out a bit further. Then I folded it back and forth until the plastic-y white cord tore completely and I could pull the excess off. Update: We just heard that a better approach is to use a wire stripper (which is nice and cheap) since bending the wires back and forth until the casing tears can put unnecessary stress on the wires inside. Good to know!

This exposed the inner wires (which I cut to a length just a bit longer than the white cord).

Then I used my pliers to gently cut the rubber coating off the tip of each of the wires without cutting the wires themselves (that way I’d have something to connect to the wires in the fixture). When it comes to connecting wires and covering them with a wire nut inside the fixture box, there are probably some great instructional videos on youtube to check out (we can never manage to take photos since it’s a two-person job in our house).

As for why it’s a two-person job, Sherry usually holds it up (supporting the weight of it so it’s not tugging down while I connect the wires). One person can definitely hang a fixture on their own, but we find the two-person method to be really helpful (and much faster). Thankfully it was a nice quick job now that the ceiling was patched. Which is a good thing since this process had already dragged out a bit more than either of us expected.

Speaking of dragging out, let’s get to the goods. Here it is all hung up, and we’re digging it. It definitely looks a lot less on-top-of-the-shower-bar than our past fixture did, and it’s still hung high enough not to interfere with a tall guy like me (code in our area requires that it be hung over 6’8″ from the bottom of the fixture to the ground and ours is 6’10”). Oh and speaking of code, in our area there aren’t any issues with hanging a pendant at this height outside of a shower, but it’s not allowed to be hung over a tub/in a shower (you know those fancy giant-chandelier-over-tub-bathrooms on HGTV and in glossy mags? they’re usually not to code). So this is just a general reminder to check out what’s to code in your area if you tackle anything similar.

Of course the blue is looking more intense here than it does in real life, but in person it’s soft and awesome against the grey paint and the white curtain – so we feel like it’s a big check mark next to our goal of cheering-up our tiny neutral box of a bathroom. It definitely adds some not-builder-basic personality. And the chrome trim and ceiling cover on the light work with all of our bathroom hardware (the shower fixtures and doorknob are chrome) so it fits right in.

In a perfect world the fixture would be centered in the toilet half of the bathroom, in front of the window. But since this is a pretty quick-and-dirty makeover plan we’re trying not to get into anything too heavy duty at this point (after renovating the kitchen for months on end we’re happy to lighten up with a few easy bathroom updates for now). Perhaps we’ll move it over a bit later in Phase Two, when we’d love to redo the floor tile as well.

Oh and we did briefly worry about two things: 1) one 60 watt bulb wouldn’t be enough light for the room and 2) it would make the whole room look crazy like a big blue smurf. But happily, it casts more than enough light to keep our tiny box of a room illuminated and there’s no weird blue tint (we even asked in the showroom if that was an issue because we were so worried). Apparently since the bulb is clear, the light that it casts down and around the room is clear too. And the ceiling gets this cool soft seeded glass reflection that looks like a subtle starburst (we’ll have to try to shoot a picture of that). So it’s very flattering indeed. And not at all smurfy. Whew.

So despite the unexpected trouble it gave us (well, the trouble the ceiling gave us) we’re really happy with the update. And it’s making us pumped to keep the changes (and touches of color) coming into this room. We think some blue, green, white, and gray art will definitely tie it in really well. And Sherry can’t wait to hit the off-white trim with some bright white paint (it’s hard to see in the photos, but the door trim next to the bright white light switch looks dingy and mismatched).

So now our bathroom to-do list looks a little something like this:

  • paint the walls so they have some contrast
  • replace the boob light
  • paint the cream trim white <– it looks white in the pics, but the bright white light switch next to the cream door trim makes it painfully obvious in person
  • hang some bathroom-friendly art
  • craigslist the toilet and replace it with a classic white one
  • do something to add privacy to the window
  • remove the door so we can shave the bottom to allow for a rug/bathmat (and so it actually opens past the floor heating register instead of catching on it)
  • replace the border tile around the room (maybe in phase 2?)
  • replace the floor tile down the road (just to break things up since there’s so much of it)

What did you guys do this weekend? Did anyone add any new color to your bathroom or another place in your home? Or discover some type of hidden ceiling hole that was being obscured by a light fixture?

Psst- To follow our quick little bathroom reno from the start, check out this planning post, and this painting post. There, now you’re all caught up.

Pssst- Apparently we have great completely accidental timing, and today is “Light It Up Blue” day for Autism Awareness, so here’s more on that. Spread the word!


  1. says

    I love it! That pendant light is so pretty, I especially love the seeded blue.

    We recently took all the ugly brown doors off in our 60 year old ranch only to find that the frames had warped in strange ways, so the new 6 paneled white ones didn’t go right on like we thought they would… ick. Thankfully two went on and the other three are minor doors that can wait, but it was definitely a womp womp moment, like I imagine finding a hole under that light would be!

  2. Renee says

    I’ll admit (since it’s online and not really affecting me socially in the “real” world) I’m a decor flop. I have to find the styles I like, but then copy them almost to a “T.” I even recently BOUGHT a boob light – I thought I was updating. THEN read online that most people make FUN of them!
    Back to Lowe’s I go for another return!
    I’ve stressed over oil rubbed bronze or brushed nickel door hardware… I hate making remodeling decisions!!!

    • says

      Oh Renee! You’re not a flop, you’re just like us! We once bought a boob light too! We thought it was an update to replace the giant heavy fan in one of our first house’s bedrooms. And only waaaay later did we get to upgrade it when we realized how much we didn’t like it. I think over time you’ll learn what you love though! It took us 4.5 years in our first house to love how it looked, and will probably take us just as long in this one!


  3. Sarah says

    We don’t have a fan in the bathroom either. However, we do have mold issues. I think from negligence of the previous owners but, possibly due to the fact that we can’t leave the door open when we shower because our smoke detector will go off (it’s right outside the door). So we open the window every time. The worst is getting a wintry gust after hopping out of the shower..BRRRR!!

    • says

      It should be sufficient to just open the windows after you are done with your shower and dried. In Europe no bathroom with a window has a fan, so that’s how we used to do it and we never had a moisture problem. You can take your shower in the warmth, get out and dried up, and then still let the moisture escape afterwards.

  4. taetae says

    I love that you are doing this project in phases! I get intimidated to tackle home projects that just seem too big. But biting off bits at a time gets ‘er done all the same. Thank for the great example of patience!

  5. says

    Love the new light! I have a suggestion for your artwork… I’ve seen on Pinterest (of course!) where you can DIY artwork using white crayon and watercolor paint. Draw a design with white crayon first, then paint over it with watercolor paints, and the wax deflects the paint, revealing your drawing! Maybe in a pretty blue to match your light?! It would be a neat framed DIY project for your space!!
    I had a craft night on Saturday with some girlfriends and wanted to try it out, but had too many other projects and never got around to trying it out. Otherwise I would share my masterpiece! :)

    • says

      That would be so much fun! We have some blue art that I painted already (see it up in the mood board?) but if that doesn’t work I’d love to try my hand at something else!


  6. audra says

    Didn’t do anything home related except sleep! But I did manage to run the 10k and *stalk* you at Stony Point. Seriously, you are the nicest person (and super teeny tiny). I was secretly doing a happy dance when I ran into you. Oh, and the bean is adorable.

    • audra says

      I feel the same way after 2 kids. I know I was looking a HOT mess. I’m still trying to get my husband to get on board with redoing some stuff in the house. I swear he must think that bland is in style.

    • says

      In any of the photos posted of you that aren’t just your face you look tiny like a thumbtack! You’re a spunky peanut in my head.

    • says

      My family was also at the 10K! I was watching my husband and my sister in law and had four little kids (four and under) cheering “GO RUNNERS GO! YOU CAN DO IT!” about a block from the finish line.

      Great weekend!

      And I love the blue light.

  7. Amy says

    Love the spackle job you did, Sherry. It’s great that you can do that in two coats!

    Question – since the drywall was already gone, and you had to patch anyway, you could have moved the electrical box further away from the shower curtain while you were at it. It looks like the wire is coming from the other side, so it would have been really easy (no problems with having a wire not long enough). Did you consider moving it?

    • says

      We just didn’t want to get into cutting into the drywalled ceiling in the bathroom (it just adds up to a huge dusty mess – and we could cut the patch piece in the basement). That part of the attic is really hard to get to (it’s floorless) so we thought better to wait and just tackle it down the line.


    • Samantha says

      @Amy I had the same question!

      I get why you guys wouldn’t want to move it all the way over to the best placement (involves tearing out as well as patching, extra work, more mess, more time, etc.) but why not at least slide that electrical box to the outside edge of that giant hole before the patch job? Gain a little extra space from the curtain without creating additonal patching…

    • says

      It’s hard it explain from the pic, but it wouldn’t just have been moving the box over. We’ll explain it all when we do move it sometime down the line (there’s attic stuff to deal with when we do). In person the light also makes sense there because it’s the exact center of the room, so scooching it over a few inches would just make the placement really weird (not centered, and not in front of the window either). Hope that makes sense!


  8. Karen says

    I love the gray walls and the new blue light, only like you, I’m looking forward to seeing it placed differently. We actually re-centered a light in one of our slanted ceiling bedrooms years ago. It was a pain and didn’t turn out well (my husband is terrible at patching drywall seams). I understand why you’d save that one for later.
    We’ve had our share of surprises in our old house too, so I can totally empathize with what you must have felt when you took down the boob light. Take heart and good luck! I enjoy watching your progress.

  9. Regenia says

    You’ve probably already thought of this, but I don’t see any mention of it: you could swag the pendant to put it centered with the window. I’ve seen this done with lots of dining room fixtures, and they even make special hooks for it that are prettier than just a standard hook.

  10. Blair says

    We’re about to paint the ceiling in our office – something we have never done. Do you have any tips for how to keep it from making a mess, breaking our necks? ;)

    • says

      Painting ceilings sucks. Not gonna lie. Try to move everything out of the room or cover it up so you don’t worry about drips on things. And use an extender rod to try to save your back (it screws right onto a roller). Good luck!