Replacing An Old Bathroom Light

We don’t talk much about our hall bathroom. In fact, in 17 months of living here, it’s been the subject of just two posts (knocking down a towel bar and fixing the toilet). And since we later used almost the same color as the inspiration room in our guest bedroom, we’re no longer planning to use that color in here, so we’re kind of back to square one. But we finally made a little lighting progress, as today’s title suggests.

There was nothing especially offensive about the existing fixture – nor anything especially exciting about it. It felt sort of builder basic to us. And kind of “backstage make-up room” to us thanks to the long line of bulbs (long vanity + long mirror + long fixture = lots of long things). So we always told ourselves if we saw something that we liked better (maybe with more height and less width, without looking too pidly and delicate over such a large vanity and mirror) we’d upgrade and then donate the original – since we’re sure someone else might love it more than we do.

We randomly checked out a few home improvement stores over the past year and a half, but nothing really got our figurative motors running. That moment finally came about a month ago while Sherry was on Joss & Main and saw this:

We obviously liked the dark bronze finish and also liked its sort of industrial / outdoor feel. It was mildly reminiscent of both our guest bathroom light (an outdoor fixture we installed inside for that industrial feeling) and our front porch light (which came with the house).

And at $60 (down 40 bucks from the original $100 price) it was less expensive than a lot of the alternatives we hadn’t liked as much at the home improvement store. So we pulled the trigger.

The breaking news is that we finally got around to putting this baby in (first it sat on the counter for a few weeks, taunting us). Thanks to the position of our mirror, I had the pleasure of photographing myself a lot in the process. And thanks to the bathtub being in my way, I also got to play the role of the tripod a few times. Apparently my head isn’t very level…

You guys have probably seen me remove a light before, but if not – after turning off the power to the whole house (our fuse box isn’t labeled carefully enough for us to trust it blindly) I carefully removed all of the glass shades and bulbs (I’m a smidge accident prone around those things) and unscrewed the fixture from the wall.

That revealed this big metal plate that was secured to the wall… along with lots of nasty dust (hence my expression).

When I unscrewed the plate I was left with this imprint of what once was: some unpainted areas, a bit of rust, more dust, and some old paint drips.

After Sherry broke out a lead paint test stick (we got a pack of them from Home Depot about a year ago and they’re still coming in handy) we were relieved to get a negative result so I broke out my cheery little palm sander to smooth out those ridges left by the previous paint job so that our re-paint job will have a better chance of looking seamless. But re-painting’s a future task since we still have to settle on a color for this room (but you know we’ll keep you posted!).

With the old fixture successfully down, we brought in the new guy. Here’s what he looked like out of the box.

I screwed in the mounting bar (a simple task that took longer than usual because the included screws didn’t fit my junction box so we had to run to the hardware store to get different ones).

Then I attached the wires and screwed the new fixture in place. Pretend that giant unpainted spot isn’t there.

Once the metal shades were affixed and the bulbs were back in place, we had our new and improved light ready to go. My head-tripoding skills also appear to have improved.

We’re charmed by the extra bit of character this light brings to the otherwise still-ignored bathroom. Thankfully, the two 100 watt bulbs are more than enough to illuminate our small bathroom, and we’re excited about how the dark color of the fixture balances some of the dark accent tile around the room. We also like that it looks sort of old (like our house and many of the other industrial lights we’ve brought in). We have big plans for framing out the mirror, painting the walls, painting the vanity, getting new vanity hardware, doing something to the window, hanging some art, etc. So although it’s not looking too amazing right now, we’re inching towards something that might look cool someday. We hope. Haha.

We like how our new fixture better fills the space above the mirror (thanks to more height, which balances the ceiling-height shower curtain on the other side of the room). And we’re actually really happy with the quality of this light. It looks a lot more expensive than 60 beans, just because it’s not flimsy and the dark color is really matte and authentic looking if that makes sense. The little distressed areas don’t feel too country for our tastes, but they make it feel less mass produced and more “oh this old thing, we actually inherited it from Uncle Merlin and it has some great story to tell” – even thought that’s totally not the case.

And we already dropped the old light off at our Habitat For Humanity ReStore, so the switcheroo is officially complete. Hopefully we’ll have another update post with a paint color sometime soon-ish. And that giant mirror will look a heckova lot more legit once it’s framed out. But at the rate these hall bathroom posts have been appearing so far (along with posts about the guest bathroom, the playroom, and the sunroom – which are our other virtually untouched spaces thus far), I probably shouldn’t make any promises. We’ll get there someday!

What have you guys been hanging in the bathroom? Art? Lighting? Mirrors? Any favorite bathroom paint colors to share? Do you get nervous ordering a light you haven’t seen in person? We must admit we were a little sweaty when we clicked “buy” but we’re glad we took a chance.


  1. says

    Congrats! I’m still afraid to install lighting myself. Everytime I get a new fixture, I call in an electrician, and waste tons of money! I still have some fixtures to do, and was wondering if I should try it on my own…but I am very accident prone!

    • says

      What about getting a friend or relative with a little experience to come over and help? Or maybe watching a few youtube videos about it before you start, just to get some more info? You can totally do it! Good luck!


  2. Rachel C says

    I love the new light. I’m trying to convince my husband to let me replace the boring builder fixtures in our two bathrooms.

    Please frame out the mirror soon! I had a HUGE builder mirror (notice a pattern?) in my master bath that I want to frame. A YHL tutorial would give me the guts to try!

  3. says

    Glad you guys jumped back into the hall bath – I had forgotten about that space!

    I think the light is great – it is definitely smaller than the looooooong light that was there but isn’t puny or undersized. It’s just right.

  4. Zoë says

    Love that light! And the floor tile in that bathroom is one of my favorite patterns.

    Right now, we have a cast-iron tub sitting in our carport (it shipped way earlier than expected), and a toilet, vanity, two types of tile (subway for the bath and hex mosaic with black dots for the floor), 2 gallons of paint, a light fixture, and other bath accessories sitting in our den. Luckily the contractors should be showing up TOMORROW to start. So yes, you could say we have plans for our bathroom. I wish we could do it ourselves, but two full-time jobs, and 3 kids don’t mesh well with a complete bathroom reno. Now I just need to find a mirror to hang over the vanity. Who knew finding a plain, black framed mirror would be so hard?

  5. says

    I bought an old brass chandelier at the ReStore a while back and spray painted it turquoise. Haven’t hung it in the bathroom yet though. Hmmm, it’s been months since I painted it. Perhaps this should be one for the “Dude, get on that, already!” file.

  6. Jenni R says

    I cannot wait to see how you guys frame up the big ol’ mirror! We have them in each bathroom in our house and I cannot wait to frame them but don’t know where to even start!
    Love your blog – look forward to it everyday!

  7. says

    Oooh I absolutely love that light! We’re in the market for a new light for our bathroom (well, basically we’re in the same boat as you with needing a frame, paint, etc haha). This will definitely give me some inspiration to go off of! I love the industrial vibe!

  8. Ryan says

    We rent a house here in Hampton and our only bathroom is extremely unfortunate. (Think the 50’s but pastel-ed. It’s salmony wall tiles, minty-aqua accent tiles, and a grayed-teal, seemingly random, small floor-tile design.) Too bad we can’t do anything. Living vicariously through you two!

  9. Kris Lapota says

    The mirror is a problem in my bathroom too…reminds me a a piece of cardboard with “reflective” qualities just stuck to the wall. Would you eat fries without ketchup? French toast without syrup? Can you imagine a tree with no star? But…I digress…A mirror needs a frame…and since I’m at that part of my bathroom remodel,(hence the big build-up) could you toss me a link of how you framed out your mirrors from your “Days of Yore” file?

    • says

      We sort of listed things on our mind for the room in this post (painting the walls, the vanity, switching out vanity hardware, hanging art, framing out the mirror, doing something to the window, etc) so I guess we have a vague list that will probably evolve as we go!


  10. says

    Oh I LOVEEEEE the new fixture. It looks so great in that bathroom. I thought you were going to order two of them for in there, but one looks just as good. The dark finish does pull out the tile in the floor which is amazing. Great find on that one! I can’t wait to see the transition of the bathroom.

  11. Liz E. says

    I love it!

    I have to admit it’s funny that, although you say it “isn’t looking too amazing right now” it looks 100 times better than my main bath ever thought of looking! (giant unpainted spot and all) =)

    Thanks for all the inspiration!

  12. Jennifer says

    Isn’t it amazing what a difference just changing the light fixture can make? When we moved into our first house last year, light fixtures and doorknobs (lol) were the first to go and made such an impact. I am excited to see what paint color you decide on. :)

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