The Tri-Light Zone

From moment one of seeing this house, something about the view of a series of three lights all in a row(ish) in the upstairs hallway made us inexplicably excited. We just knew that arrangement had serious potential. You know, once we looked past the old carpeting and the blue trim.

The existing lights were a little undersized for us (pictures don’t do it justice, but this is a 33 foot long hallway!), so although we considered spray painting them another color (oil-rubbed bronze? red? navy?), I worried it’d make them look a bit more gothic cathedral than we wanted. Plus, all three of them were crooked, one of them had a broken stem, and the middle one was actually bigger than the other two.

I’ve had these fixtures mentally bookmarked for years. Ever since we saw them in a House Crashing that we did in Portland, OR in 2012 I’ve wanted to work them into our home somehow. I like that they’re a mix of classic and modern, and that their dark finish offers some nice contrast but isn’t too heavy looking thanks to all the glass. The good news is that Sherry was with me (we don’t always agree on lights, so sometimes finding something we both like takes a while). The only issue was that the $250 price tag was a bit much for us since we’d need to buy three of them.

We hoped to find something similar at a local lighting outlet that we frequent (and even checked craigslist and the ReStore occasionally) but coming by three identical fixtures was tough. Then Sherry got an email alert about a World Market sale (25% off orders over $150) which lead her to these puppies – and we realized that after the sale they’d be $75 each, which means we could buy all three for less than the price of our single inspiration fixture.

Normally I wouldn’t take you through the installation process again, since I feel like I’ve done lots of posts like these – but I actually picked up a couple of tricks (albeit small ones) from observing the electrician work his magic at the showhouse. Trick #1 being leave the protective packaging on during installation. I guess I’ve always been so eager to unveil our new purchases that the first thing I usually did was strip away all of the plastic, cardboard and styrofoam. But I had a “well duh!” moment watching the electrician leave it all on (well, whatever didn’t interfere with installing it) to help prevent any damage while he worked. Of course he took it off before firing up the power and adding a bulb, but just hanging them with the added protection felt a lot better than rushing to strip it before manhandling things into place.

Obviously I would’ve loved to let these babies hang down on their chains a bit, but our 8ft ceilings weren’t gonna let it happen. So we had to shorten the chain by prying the links open with two pairs of pliers, the tips of which I wrapped in masking tape to keep them from scratching the finish off.

The previous lighting had been a bit low for my 6-foot self (well, the middle one outside of Clara’s room was – since that lantern was inexplicably larger than the other two), so we decided to hang the new lights by just one chain link – which would put them all a couple inches higher than that old middle light (it hung about 75″ from the ground). So even though these are larger scale fixtures, the bottom of each lantern ended up being 77″ from the floor after installation.

But back to the single link method. I kept one link handy, but left a longer string on the fixture for the time being. More on that in a minute.

In addition to shortening the chain, I had to shorten the cord. So using my wire cutters I cut open the wire cover, pulled it off, and then stripped the ends of the white, black, and green wires.

With Sherry supporting the fixture, I connected the wires to the matching ones in the ceiling. Sorry for the grainy pic, but we had the power off so lighting was limited up there.

The second trick I picked up was to hang the fixture low and then raise it to your final desired height. With most light fixtures it’s much easier to raise them (by removing chain or feeding more wire into the ceiling) than to make them lower, especially if you’ve already cut your wire. So not only is this an easier way to get your perfect height, in our case it made installation much easier because Sherry didn’t have to hold the light as high and I wasn’t wiring in such a cramped space between the fixture and the ceiling.

Once everything was secured, I swapped out the long chain for the my single link and pushed the excess wire up into the canopy. You can see my screwdriver tightening the screw that pinches the wire in place.

It still took a fair amount of time to get all three installed. Maybe 3 hours? I always have a tough time guessing since I’m slowed down by photo taking and, in this case, fielding showhouse calls. But in the end we love the result.

Just like the light in our foyer downstairs, we really like the high contrast look that these add. Even the way they tie into the dark door hinges, doorknobs, and the stained stair rail and runner that lead downstairs seems to make things feel more deliberate. They’re a bit oversized for the space, which may bother some folks – but it’s kinda what I dig most about them.

Adding some substantial wainscoting, interesting art, and other hallway updates should definitely bring more balance. So here’s our remaining to-do list:

Just for fun, here’s a hallway before shot for comparison.

In the function column, I feared that it might be a little darker (going from three 3-bulb fixtures to three single bulbs), but these take a higher wattage (60 instead of 40) and somehow the glass seems to reflect so much that it actually feels brighter. Could also be that half of the old bulbs were burned out too, so there’s that.

Here’s how things look with the clear bulbs that came with the fixtures when they’re on. They throw some angular shadows on the ceiling, but if we want less of that look we can switch them out for frosted bulbs (eventually we’d love to get LEDs in every fixture).

Anyone else have hall happenings to share? It’s weird that those “not real rooms” in the house can end up being the ones you spend a ton of time passing through, so they make a surprising difference when you show them a little attention.



House Crashing: Joyful & Happy Go Lucky

Can you believe it has been a month since our last house crashing adventure? And while February’s house tour was from across the pond, this one was local, so we got to stop by and soak up all of the details in person.

Meet Becky and Brian (and their dog Fergie). They live just outside of Richmond with their two daughters and this charming red door. It’s Heritage Red by Benjamin Moore – and she got that charming “Hello” decal here.

When you walk inside, there’s a room to your right that they call the music room. Let’s just say that the yellow piano, which Becky painted herself, had my heart immediately. It was Brian’s grandma’s piano that was passed down to their family (here’s a link to Becky’s post about painting it). Becky also found the swivel stool at an antique store and made the slipcover herself. It was such a fun house to walk through because so many things had a secondhand story or a handmade touch.

Her dresser-turned-bathroom-vanity was another example of Becky and Brian putting their stamp on their home. She got it at a local secondhand shop, painted it and distressed it, and then her dad and Brian cut out the middle and added a recycled sink basin (picked up from the Habitat For Humanity ReStore). Becky also loves to collect old mirrors to hang in groupings on the wall, so she always has an eye out for them at thrift & antique shops.

There’s a first floor guest room which had such a cheerful vibe, even with those moody walls (they’re Gravel Gray by Benjamin Moore). The playful rooster art was a $30 find at the Yankee Candle Store in Williamsburg.

The pretty bedding is a Bed Bath & Beyond find, and the dresser is another secondhand score that Becky painted herself. She also distressed it with a palm sander and filled in the distressed areas with Walnut oil or glaze – and added those cute numbers for each drawer (found at a craft store).

Becky worked in some more personal touches in the kitchen, like a panel of chalkboard paint on the pantry door, and by painting the stools that she got from Ikea red with a homemade chalk paint recipe that she found online.

The master bedroom was a really soft and sweet space. The floral coverlet on their bed is a $20 Rosebowl Flea market purchase from Pasadena, CA. I loved that Brian didn’t mind pink in the bedroom, and the mixture of the wooden bed (from Pier 1) and the pine bench at the foot of the bed (from HomeGoods) was interesting to me (instead of pairing it with painted or distressed wood). Becky doesn’t remember the color on the walls, but Palladian Blue or Quiet Moments by Benjamin Moore might be close.

This homemade jewelry rack is another example of Becky’s ability to see something and reimagine it. She got it at the Junk Bonanza Flea Market in Shakopee, Minnesota as an old crib railing, initially thinking that she’d hang magazines or blankets from it, but it turned out to be perfect for her jewelry.

Her daughter’s room has more feminine touches and the sweetest secondhand hutch that Becky also found in Minnesota. It even came that color so she didn’t do a thing to it.

But possibly the coolest spot in the whole house is Becky’s basement studio. She runs an Etsy shop called Farmgirl Paints, where she sells stamped leather cuffs made from secondhand belts (no wonder she has so many thrift store finds, right? She’s always patrolling for belts) – and everything happens down in her basement studio.

The green wall along the back of the studio is chalkboard paint that Becky had mixed up at Lowe’s in “Spring Green” and she got the shop sign made by American Vintage Inc (she sent her an inspiration picture with reclaimed wood, metal sides, and frosted bulbs and this is the end result).

There were so many creative details in this basement to document. Like this cool twine Farmgirl Paints sign that Becky made – and even posted a little flipagram tutorial on Instagram.

There were a lot of work stations for various shop jobs (making the leather bands, stamping the metal disks that go on them, adding snaps, billing, packing, etc). It was such a fun work environment thanks to all of the color and the playful wall decor. How cool is that old “humble” sign Becky found?

She also mixed in some big box finds, but the funny thing is that I assumed everything was thrifted or homemade due to all of her other pieces. So it shocked the heck out of me when she said this numbered wall cubby was from Target a while back.

There’s also a room that’s tucked away in the very back of the basement that Becky calls her art studio. To make the desk, she and her husband dug through an awesome old salvage yard here in Richmond called Govenor’s Antiques. The owner helped them pick out the perfect doors (there are two of them, joined in the middle, braced along the back wall, and further supported by two legs that they made out of spindles on each end). It’s 13′ long and full of crafting supplies. I was like a kid in a candy store.

That green lamp has a great story too. Becky was antiquing in Charlottesville, Virginia and I fell in love with that HUGE barn light, which was hanging right over the checkout counter in a small shop. So she sweet talked the owner into selling it to her.

Possibly my favorite organizational coup of all was this old school display case made of wire that Becky picked up at The Screen Door antique shop in Asheville, North Carolina. She bought it without having any clue what she’d do with it, but soon realized that all of her little tubes of craft paint fit perfectly. And how cute is the chalkboard camper that Becky drew on the chalkboard wall behind it?

We want to send a HUGE thanks to Becky and Brian for so graciously inviting us into their joy-filled home and allowing us to snap photos to share with the interwebs. You can read more about her life/shop/house over on her blog, but first I’d love to hear what your favorite parts were, or what has you inspired (her whole house made me want to thrift like crazy). Between the decal on that shiny red front door, the yellow piano, and her tricked out basement studio, it’s hard to even pick a favorite.